USC football’s Pac-12 greatest hits — Stanford

Stanford is an interesting Pac-12 football program for USC and its fans to consider. The Cardinal have had some short bursts of time in which they were very, very good, but it has been hard for this program to become an annual threat over whole decades. The most sustained period of excellence at Stanford football in recent memory was the Jim Harbaugh-David Shaw period from 2009 through 2018. Stanford was really good for roughly a decade. Before that, it’s hard to find a prolonged period of quality for the Cardinal in a 75-year span. The last 10-year period in which Stanford was generally excellent — or close to it — was 1926 through 1935.

Because Stanford has rarely been elite, USC hasn’t had that many epic games or showdowns versus the Trees. Some of the more notable USC-Stanford Pac-12 (Pac-10, Pac-8) games were not meetings on the mountaintop. They were games in which USC had a ton to play for and Stanford tried to pull an upset.

We wrote about the 2004 Stanford game:

“This one was too close for comfort. USC squeaked by Stanford, 31-28, on September 25. The Trojans got away with a relatively shaky performance, the kind of game they couldn’t solve in other seasons when they stumbled on the road in the Pac-10 (such as 2006 and 2008 at Oregon State).”

The 1972 game was somewhat similar, although Stanford was coming off consecutive Rose Bowl wins that year. Nevertheless, it was USC’s least impressive performance of the season. The 1972 Trojans, regarded as the greatest football team in school history, beat Stanford by only nine on The Farm. No other USC opponent that season came closer than 17 points.

These two wins over Stanford, in 1972 and 2004, preserved unbeaten seasons and led to national championships.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire