The Orange Bowl, the site of the National Championship Game for the CFSL. It’s not unfamiliar ground for USC. They’re not strangers to this field. They’re certainly not strangers to this moment, this atmosphere. They’ve been here before, but this time, they’re hoping for a different outcome. So, how did they get here? Allow me to walk you down memory lane, with the games and moments that defined the season for USC.
SEASON SIX NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
To know how USC got to the Title game this season, we have to talk about how things ended for them last season. They went head-to-head with the Auburn Tigers, in what you could equate to a bare-knuckled brawl. Punch, counter-punch. Two offenses and defenses showcasing what a National Championship Game looks like. And then the final minute of the game arrives. USC down seven. And barely into the drive goes Kingston Fox before he throws an interception to Auburn safety Digger Graves. Heartbreak. They would meet again in week one and USC would be dismantled by an Auburn offense that looked like a juggernaut.
WEEK SIX VS. oregon
When the schedule drops, all the attention turns to the conference schedules. Namely when they face who. For USC, they saw themselves facing a throng of playoff hopefuls late into their schedule, and it started with Oregon. The two west coast teams squared off, but USC took an early 14 point lead going into halftime, and Oregon was never able to close the gap against this USC defense with the Terrence Goldsberry interception helping to stave off a comeback. This game was really the beginning of USC’s playoff push with Kingston Fox and Cain Robinson leading the charge. USC won 37-20.
WEEK Seven vs. notre dame
I know what you’re thinking. For those who remember this game, things went in the wrong direction for USC after facing Oregon. I mean, USC lost 61-13. So why am I including this game? Because, as events would pan out, it would be USC’s first encounter with Notre Dame this season, but not their last. Kingston Fox struggled in the rain, throwing three interceptions, Cain Robinson mustered 15 yards on just seven carries. And the linebacking corps of Maine Patterson, Benjamin Kaye, and Xavier Halle had no answer for Notre Dame’s Kaiden Saint III. But the Trojans would learn, and it would set a fire within them that put them on course for a clash with the Irish in the National Title Game.
WEEK eight VS. TEXAS
The last three weeks of the season? Really? I hear you, but the about face, the new will that their loss to Notre Dame instilled in this team was impressive to see. The Trojans went off, putting up 52 on the Longhorns. And ultimately, this was the game that clinched USC’s playoff spot. They had to topple Texas to get here, but they did so with style. Kingston Fox and Cain Robinson combined for three rushing touchdowns, Xavier Halle was stellar on defense. Speaking of defense, three different members of the USC secondary had two pass breakups each. Corner Johnathon Greene and safeties Peyton Myles and Digby Krause. All of it helped USC to win 52-33 and send them into the playoffs.
SEMIFINALS VS. AUBURN
This was the biggest pinnacle of the season at the time for USC, before tomorrow obviously. They had never bested Auburn, and now, they needed to do just that in order to make the playoffs. And best Auburn they did. Four touchdown passes from Kingston Fox, and a defense that flustered Auburn quarterback Griffin Jelkic. Sure, they only got one interception out of him, but they should have had four out of Jelkic. The final score may have been 35-27, but for USC, they might as well have put up 100 with the way they felt. The relief, the accomplishment of finally getting back at Auburn, and the knowledge that Notre Dame awaits them for all the marbles.
With the big game only being hours away, USC is seeking their first National Title in CFSL history. A moment that they have worked and fought for, but a historic rival is standing in their way. The Trojans and the Fighting Irish stand on the biggest stage, but only one can rise to the throne.