Nine national championships. More NFL players than any other school. The winningest program in the Pac-12 Conference. USC is, without question, the national powerhouse west of the Rockies.
With this bullseye on our back, our rivals always bring our their A-game against us, and often, storming the field after they win. Beating USC isn't easy, and many teams (cough, UCLA, cough) cling to single victories with almost admirable hope.
Here are USC's top 25 heartbreaking losses:
# 25 - 2001 - Utah 10, USC 6 - Pete Carroll's first bowl game was a dud due to an anemic offense.
# 24 - 2009 - Oregon 47, USC 20 - It was a shock seeing the Trojans, after years of dominance, being dominated.
# 23 - 2001, Notre Dame 27, USC 16 - Pete Carroll's first game against an 0-3 Irish squad goes terrible. But he made up for the next eight years.
# 22 - 2010 - Notre Dame 20, USC 16 - And this game ended that dominance. QB Matt Barkley was out, it was in South Bend, but all USC fans were hoping that our Irish dominance would go on forever.
# 21 - 2011 - Stanford 56, USC 48 (3OT) - A classic game, well-fought as a rare underdog, but the end result was another home loss to the Cardinal.
# 20 - 1998 - UCLA 34, USC 17 - Not so much for the game itself, but the fact that this was USC's eighth consecutive loss to UCLA -- pretty much the low point for the program. Things quickly turned around, though, with the hiring of Pete Carroll.
# 19 - 2006 - Oregon State 33, USC 31 - This loss didn't cost us a trip to the BCS championship. See #2 below.
# 18 - 2002 - Kansas State 27, USC 20 - At the time, it was just another loss, but by the end of the season, with our offense on fire, it seemed unfathomable.
# 17 - 1988 - Michigan 22, USC 14, Rose Bowl - Our national title hopes were stomped by a Big 10 team. Sounds strange, doesn't it?
# 16 - 1986 - Washington State 34, USC 14 - A heartbreaking loss after a strong 4-0 start.
# 15 - 2007 - Oregon 21, USC 17 - This tight loss cost us a chance at the BCS.
# 14 - 1985 - Notre Dame 37, USC 3 - Our worst loss to ND since 1977.
# 13 - 2008 - Oregon State 27, #1 USC 21 - For a few years there, we began this pattern of an annual choke against a weaker Pac-10 team on the road. This was on the most painful.
# 12 - 1989 - Notre Dame 28, USC 24 - A chance for revenge for the 1988 devastating loss (see below) is foiled by a ND comeback. Instead, USC falls into a period of mediocrity
# 11 - 1997 - Stanford 27, USC 0 - This was the year Stanford won the Pac-10, Cardinal coach Ty Willingham got hired at Notre Dame, and ... well, I think you know the rest.
# 10 - 2009 - Washington 16, USC 13 - Steve Sarkisian gets his first big win, against his former team, in a stunning upset to what would turn into a disappointing season, despite a huge early win at Ohio State.
# 9 - 2009 - Arizona 21, USC 17 - To cap off our worst season of the decade was this loss to Arizona at the Coliseum in Pete Carroll's last Pac-10 game.
# 8 - 1995 - Notre Dame 35, USC 10 - Our best team in our terrible '90s isn't good enough, as we got streamrolled in our 11th painful, consecutive loss to the Irish.
# 7 - 1990 - Stanford 31, USC 0 - A low point in the years of mediocrity, right amid long losing streaks to Notre Dame and UCLA.
# 6 - 2003 - Cal 33, USC 31 (3OT) - We got beat by some no-name QB named Aaron Rodgers. This was the only loss USC had during my entire 2 1/2 years as a student there.
# 5 - 2009 - Stanford 55, USC 21 - Two years after ending our home winning stream (see #3 below), Stanford returns and demolishes our once proud defense and hands Pete Carroll his worst loss ever. I had tickets to this game, and sold them to a friend -- thankful I never went.
# 4 - 1988 - #1 Notre Dame 27, #2 USC 10 - One of the few #1 vs. #2 games in the USC-ND rivalry. To rub salt on the wounds, ND went on to win the national championship.
# 3 - 2007 - Stanford 24, USC 23 - And, like that, our 35-game home winning streak gone; whoosh, despite being 41-point favorites. Now, Stanford has beaten us four out of five years.
# 2 - 2006 - UCLA 13, #2 USC 9 - It just didn't make sense. High powered offense, unstoppable big-game coach, BCS championship berth on the line, and a weak UCLA team beats us? Only UCLA win of the decade, but a painful one.
# 1 - #2 Texas 41, #1 USC 38 - Rose Bowl, BCS Championship Game - USC's lone BCS game blemish, when every USC fan screamed at the TV "tackle him!" repeatedly as Vince Young ran though our porous defense and ended our hopes for college's football's first three-peat.
Nithin is an avid football fan and alum of USC, class of 2005, and has attended several dozen USC games, never once seeing them lose in person, at home or on the road.