I’ve never heard anyone mention this game to me before but in 1961, USC played No. 1-ranked Iowa at the Coliseum. The Trojans trailed 21-0 before quarterback Bill Nelsen scored on a keeper. USC cut the lead to 21-14 on a keeper by QB Pete Beathard. Nelsen threw a TD pass to left end Phil Hoover to tie the game, 21-21, before Iowa scored two touchdowns to lead 35-21.
Nelsen then threw a 71-yard TD pass to wide receiver Hal Bedsole. Nelsen and Bedsole connected on a 5-yard TD pass with 48 seconds left in the game to make it 35-34. John McKay then elected for a 2-point conversion. Nelson passed again to Bedsole, who is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. The pass was incomplete and Iowa hung on for the 35-34 victory.
Two notes: The game was on national TV, which explains to me why the Trojans wore their numbers on their helmets (see fullback Ben Wilson below). When USC played in the 1963 Rose Bowl, it was asked to wear numbers on the helmets for identification purposes. Also, the crowd was just 30,263. For a game against a No. 1 team?
USC is 7-12 against No. 1-ranked teams, which is the fourth-most victories by any college. USC was 7-7 but has lost the past five against No. 1 teams and hasn’t beaten a top-ranked team since beating Washington, 16-7, in 1984.
Here’s a game where USC was No. 1 and faced No. 7 Alabama. Keith Jackson points out early USC defensive tackle Walt Underwood “grew up in Tuscaloosa.”
I would not count on Chad Wheeler starting at left tackle against Alabama. He felt pain in his foot during today’s mock game and Clay Helton said he would decide Tuesday whether Wheeler or Chuma Edoga starts.
Given how little Wheeler’s practiced and the fact he feels pain, it seems unlikely Wheeler is ready to start or perhaps even play.
USC held its mock game this afternoon minus fans or media and did not disclose the location (El Camino College). I’m not sure why with all the security at Howard Jones Field and the Coliseum it was necessary to play the game at El Camino, unless someone wanted to talk to David Sills.
Oaks Christian junior QB Matt Corral, who is committed to USC, passed for 420 yards and three touchdowns last night in a 65-55 victory over Chaminade. He also threw two interceptions, one of which was returned to the 1-yard line, so it was nearly a pick six.
Former USC running backs coach Todd McNair, who is suing the NCAA, visited the campus yesterday. Among the places he visited was the McKay Center. McNair has not coached since USC let him go in 2010 but he is coaching the Pasadena Trojans Pop Warner youth football team. Sources say his lawyers have turned down a settlement offer of more than $10 million from the NCAA. He has kept a low profile during the lawsuit other making an appearance in the 30 for 30 film on USC football.
There are 19 current USC players who played for Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin while he was USC coach in 2013: OT Zach Banner, DT Kenny Bigelow Jr., QB Max Browne, CB Kevin Carrasco, TB Justin Davis, C-OT Nico Falah, S Chris Hawkins, ILB Michael Hutchings, S Matt Lopes, S Leon McQuay III, WR Steven Mitchell Jr., ILB Quinton Powell, DT Khaliel Rodgers, WR Darreus Rogers, DE Jabari Ruffin, OG Jordan Simmons, SNP Zach Smith, TB James Toland IV and OT Chad Wheeler