Trojans Highlights

General Information

  • Conference: Pac 12
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Stadium: Los Angeles Memorial Stadium


  • National Titles: 17
  • Conference Championships: 39
  • Division Titles: 3
  • Bowl Record: 34-21

Past Conferences

  • Independent (1888–1921)
  • PCC (1922–1958)
  • Pac-12 (since 1959)

USC Trojans Football History

USC had its first football team in 1888. Their coaches Frank Suffel and Henry H. Goddard both played and coached for the first Trojans team. They played their first game in 1889 against St. Vincent’s College. They changed their names to the Trojans in 1912. Before that, they were called the “Fighting Methodists.” The Trojans got rid of the football program and gave its attention to the rugby program.

The Trojans’ first time being recognized on the national level came in 1922. They finished with a 10-1 record under head coach Gus Henderson. Additionally, they won their first Rose Bowl at the end of the ‘22 season. Henderson would coach the Trojans until 1924. The ‘23 and ‘24 seasons were also successful. The Trojans finished with a combined 15-4 overall record during those seasons. They won the Los Angeles Christmas Festival in Henderson’s final season at the helm.

Howard Jones took over after Henderson. Jones remains one of the most decorated coaches in Trojan history. The Trojans won six National Championships (four claimed, two unclaimed) during his 15-year stint. The Trojans finished with 13 winning seasons under Jones, and just three losing seasons while Jones was at the helm. Jones finished his career at USC with 121 total wins and multiple conference championships.

Jeff Cravath coached the Trojans for most of the 40s. He led the Trojans to four Rose Bowls including three in a row from 1943-1945. They won two back-to-back in 1943 and 1944. The Trojans also enjoyed an undefeated season under Cravath. Cravath’s last season was in 1950. He finished his career at USC with 54 career wins and a 2-2 record in the Rose Bowl.

John McKay became coach in 1960 after short stints with Jesse Hill and Don Clark. McKay coached the Trojans for 16 seasons. McKay led the Trojans to 14 straight winning seasons from 1962-1975. He also led the Trojans to eight Rose Bowls and four National Championship titles. He finished his career at USC with five double-digit winning seasons.

John Robinson was at the helm from 1976-1982. The Trojans finished with an 11-1 record and won the Rose Bowl during the first year of his stint. The 1979 season was their best under Robinson. They finished with an 11-0 overall record and a 6-0-1 conference record. Additionally, they won the Rose Bowl and were crowned National Champions yet again. The Trojans never won less than eight games while Robinson was at the helm. The Trojans accumulated 67 wins under Robinson and had a 4-1 bowl record.

Ted Tollner coached the Trojans for four seasons from 1983-1986. They made three straight bowl games from 1984-1986. In 1984 they finished with a 9-3 record and won the Rose Bowl. In 1985, they lost the Aloha Bowl and in 1986 they lost the Citrus Bowl.

Tollner was out after the 1986 season and was replaced with Larry Smith. Smith led the Trojans to five winning seasons and five bowl-game appearances during his six-year stint.

John Robinson returned to USC for another coaching stint from 1993-1997. Johnson’s second stint wasn’t as successful as his first. However, he managed to lead the Trojans to four winning seasons and three bowl-game appearances. The 1995 season was his best. They finished with a 9-2-1 overall record and punched their tickets to the Rose Bowl. They went on to beat the Northwestern Wildcats 42-31. Robinson was out after the 1996 season. Pete Carroll took over the job in 2001 after a short stint with Paul Hackett.

The Trojans won at least 10 games in seven of his nine seasons at the helm. In 2002, the Trojans started with a 3-2 record then ripped off eight straight wins and a win in the Orange Bowl to close out the season under quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer went on to be named the Heisman Trophy winner at the end of the season.

The 2003 and 2004 seasons were perhaps the Trojans’ best seasons under Carroll. Led by quarterback Matt Leinart, the Trojans lost to Cal early on and then ripped off 10 straight wins to finish with a 12-1 record. Unfortunately for the Trojans, they weren’t voted to play in the BCS Championship game.

However, the results were different in 2004. The team was star-packed with players like Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, and Shaun Cody. The Trojans finished 8-0 in conference play and 13-0 overall. Leinart went on to win the Heisman with Bush finishing closely behind in second place. They punched their tickets to the BCS Championship where they beat an undefeated Oklahoma team.

The 2005 Trojans were a very decorated team. The Trojans had a Heisman winner for the second year in a row after Reggie Bush won the award. They steamrolled everyone on their schedules and finished 12-0 and punched their tickets to the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately for the Trojans, they lost a nail-biter 41-38 to the Texas Longhorns. The 2005 team was potentially the best in Trojan history. Along with having the Heisman Trophy winner, the Trojans had nine All-Americans.

The Trojans went on to make three straight Rose Bowls from 2006-2008. They had a 34-5 overall record and a 22-4 conference record during those three years. Additionally, they won all three Rose Bowls from ‘06-‘08. Carroll and the Trojans finished 9-4 in 2009. Carroll went on to coach the Seattle Seahawks.

Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian served short stints at USC after Carroll. Kiffin led the Trojans to a 10-2 record in 2011. Kiffin was fired in the middle of the 2013 season. Sarkisian coached the Trojans for two seasons. His best season was in 2014 when he led the Trojans to a 9-4 record and a win in the Holiday Bowl. Sarkisian was out in the middle of the 2015 season due to personal reasons.

Clay Helton coached the Trojans from 2016-2021. Helton’s first two years were especially successful as they had a 21-6 overall record and a 15-3 conference record. In 2016, their season ended with a Rose Bowl win. The steam slowed after the 2017 season and for the next three years, they had a combined 19-14 combined record.

Former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was named head coach ahead of the 2022 season. The Trojans finished with an 11-3 overall record and an 8-1 conference record. Quarterback Caleb Williams won the Heisman.

All Time Stats

Passing Yards

-Matt Barkley: 12,327
-Carson Palmer: 11,818
-Matt Leinart: 10,693
-Cody Kessler: 10,339
-Rob Johnson: 8,479

Rushing Yards

-Charles White: 6,245
-Marcus Allen: 4,810
-Anthony Davis: 3,724
-Ricky Bell: 3,689
-Ronald Jones: 3,619

Receiving Yards

-Marqise Lee: 3,655
-Johnnie Morton: 3,201
-Dwayne Jarrett: 3,138
-Kareem Kelly: 3,104
-JuJu Smith-Schuster: 3,092

What is the highest win total in program history?

The Trojans have had a host of double-digit win seasons. However, in 2004 they won 13 games for the first time in program history. They were led by head coach Pete Carroll and Heisman Trophy Winning running back Reggie Bush.

Who was the worst season in program history?

The 1957 Trojans finished with a 1-9 overall record. It was the Trojans’ worst record since the 1900 season.

How many Bowl games have the Trojans appeared in?

The Trojans have played in 55 total bowl games. Their most recent bowl game was against Tulane in the Cotton Bowl. They currently have a 34-21 overall record.
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