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Can USC beat a team twice in one season? Trojans face challenge in Pac-12 title game

By in Press Enterprise on November 29, 2017

By Joey Kaufman

LOS ANGELES — A victory over Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game on Friday would give USC its first conference title in nine years.

It would also be accompanied by a rare feat.

USC last defeated a team twice in a season in 1945, when it toppled Cal in a span of six weeks. That was 15 years before legendary coach John McKay landed on campus.

There is little doubt it has been an infrequent occurrence for the Trojans because in-season rematches are uncommon in college football. In fact, USC has met a team twice in a season on only two occasions since 1945 – a rematch with Michigan State in the Rose Bowl game in the 1987 season and one with Stanford in the Pac-12 title game in 2015.

But some players this week mentioned the old adage that it is a challenge to beat a team for a second time in a season.

“It’s tough,” linebacker Cameron Smith said.

“Honestly, I hate it,” tight end Tyler Petite said.

It was September when the Trojans handled Stanford in their Pac-12 opener, a convincing 42-24 victory at the Coliseum.

Petite noted one reason it’s so difficult to beat a team twice in a season is that the Cardinal will be eager to make up for the loss.

“It’s just kind of that animal backed into a corner and is going to fight for their survival,” he said.

But it has been achieved in recent years, and in the Pac-12 championship game, each time by the Cardinal. Three of the four conference title game rematches were won by the regular-season winner, including Stanford against UCLA in 2012, against Arizona State in 2013 and against the Trojans in 2015. Stanford is the lone team since the conference title game was introduced in 2011 to complete an in-season sweep.

“It’s not a secret,” Stanford […]    

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