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The USC-Alabama game that changed college sports — and more — in the South

The Trojan squad kicks off its season Saturday against Alabama; the team’s 1970 counterpart was the first integrated team to play in that state

Sam Cunningham
Sam Cunningham carries the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 12, 1970. (Photo/Courtesy of USC Athletics)

When USC kicks off against the Crimson Tide on Saturday in Texas, history will remember another time the two teams faced off, when much more was at stake than just a football game.

It was 1970, and Bear Bryant’s all-white Alabama squad hosted the Trojans in the opening game of the season, a showdown of two of the best and yet two of the most different teams of the previous decade. USC featured a black starting quarterback, fullback and tailback along with a host of other African-American players, and would be the first fully integrated team to play in the state of Alabama. The outcome — a Trojan blowout win — would change everything about SEC football in the years to come.

Sam Cunningham, in his first game for USC, stole the show with 12 carries, 135 yards and two touchdowns. On Saturday he’ll be with the team at Cowboys Stadium as an honorary captain.

Find out more about this legendary game and Cunningham’s legendary performance.


2016 USC football schedule

For more information or to order season tickets, visit the USC Athletics website.

Sept. 3: Alabama at Arlington, Texas (5 p.m. PDT, ABC)

Sept. 10: Utah State (11 a.m. PDT, Pac-12 Network)

Sept. 17: at Stanford (5 p.m. PDT, ABC)

Sept. 23 (Friday): at Utah (6 p.m. PDT, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes)

Oct. 1: Arizona State

Oct. 8: Colorado

Oct. 15: at Arizona

Oct. 27 (Thursday): California (7:30 p.m. PDT, ESPN)

Nov. 5: Oregon

Nov. 12: at Washington

Nov. 19: at UCLA

Nov. 26: Notre Dame

The USC-Alabama game that changed college sports — and more — in the South

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