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USC to face Alabama in 2016 Cowboys Classic

The season opener in Texas will be the teams’ first meeting since 1985

fullback Sam Cunningham
Fullback Sam Cunningham runs against Alabama in a 1970 victory against the Crimson Tide. (Photo/USC Athletics)

The USC football team will open its 2016 season on Sept. 3 against Alabama in the eighth annual Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Information on ticket sales, kickoff time and televising network for the neutral site Labor Day game will be announced at a later date.

The Trojans’ originally scheduled game on that date, at home against New Mexico, has been moved to 2020.

“We are excited to participate in a game that is such an attractive matchup for the nation’s fans,” said USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian. “The 2016 Cowboys Classic not only brings together two of college football’s most tradition-laden and successful programs, but teams that in 1970 played a significant role in shaping the history of the game.

“At USC, we have always tried to schedule as many outstanding nonconference opponents as possible because we believe that should be part of the experience our players get when they come here,” he added. “The Trojans versus the Crimson Tide in Arlington will certainly be such a game.”

Taking on the Crimson Tide

USC and Alabama last met in 1985, a 24-3 Crimson Tide victory in the Aloha Bowl.

Alabama holds a 5-2 series lead over USC. Both of USC’s wins came in Birmingham: 42-21 in 1970 in a game that was credited with helping to integrate Southern football because of the outstanding performances that day by the Trojans’ African-American players, particularly fullback Sam Cunningham, tailback Clarence Davis and quarterback Jimmy Jones, and 24-14 in 1978, a year in which the schools split the national championship.

Besides the Aloha Bowl win, the Crimson Tide’s victories came in 1938 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, in the 1946 Rose Bowl following the 1945 season, in 1971 and 1977 in the Coliseum.

USC and Alabama boast two of college football’s most storied traditions. In their history, the teams have produced 26 national champions (11 by USC, 15 by Alabama), 66 bowl victories (32 for USC, 34 for Alabama) and seven Heisman Trophy winners (six from USC). USC’s most recent game against an Southeastern Conference opponent was a 50-14 road win at Arkansas in 2006. The Trojans hold a 21-11-1 edge over current SEC foes and have won the last four meetings.

Lone Star games

USC’s last visit to the Dallas area was for the 1995 Cotton Bowl, a 55-14 win over Texas Tech.

The team has a 9-4 record in games it has played in the state of Texas, falling to Georgia Tech in its last visit to the state in the 2012 Sun Bowl, 21-7.

The 2016 Cowboys Classic will be USC’s first appearance in AT&T Stadium.

USC has a tradition of playing challenging nonconference opponents in the regular season. Since 1926, USC has annually (except during World War II) played Notre Dame in a series that last year was extended through 2023.

The Trojans have a home-and-home series set against Texas in 2017 (in Los Angeles) and 2018 (Austin), as well a three-game series with Brigham Young University in 2019 (away), 2021 (home) and 2023 (home). In the past 15 years, Troy has had Ohio State, Auburn, Nebraska, Penn State, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Syracuse, Hawaii, Minnesota and Virginia on its regular season nonconference slate.

This year’s Trojan nonconference foes, in addition to Notre Dame, are Fresno State and Boston College. As a member of the Pac-12, USC plays nine conference games each year.

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USC to face Alabama in 2016 Cowboys Classic

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