Looking back at the best Pac-12 games between USC and Arizona

USC running back Javorius Allen pulls away from the Arizona defense and runs a touchdown in 2014
USC running back Javorius Allen (37) runs for his second touchdown during a game against Arizona on Oct. 11, 2014, in Tucson.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)
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With USC and UCLA playing their final season in the Pac-12, The Times is revisiting the top games in the history of each series. This week: USC versus Arizona.

Oct. 10, 1981: Arizona 13, No. 1 USC 10

USC football player Marcus Allen (33) is shown carrying the ball against Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., in 1981.
USC running back Marcus Allen (33), shown facing Oregon State during the 1981 season, was among the Trojans’ top performers during a memorable showdown with Arizona the same year.
(Associated Press)

Arizona ended USC’s 22-game home winning streak, upset the top-ranked Trojans and secured its first win in the series after 11 consecutive losses behind 293 yards on 21-of-37 passing by quarterback Tom Tunnicliffe. The Burbank native threw the game-winning touchdown to running back Vance Johnson with two seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Trojans jumped out to a 10-0 lead with Marcus Allen breaking a 74-yard run for the first touchdown. Allen ran for 211 yards on 26 carries.


Nov. 12, 1982: USC 48, Arizona 41

Decades before scoring 40 points to win a football game became the norm, USC and Arizona produced the highest-scoring game in the series with their defenses. The teams combined for four pick-sixes, including three by USC, which is still a school record matched during the 2022 season opener against Rice. The Trojans also lost four fumbles. In 2011, USC won 48-41 to equal the highest point total in the series.

USC is determined to “dominate” against Arizona as it looks to stay perfect on the season. Rediscovering the run game is among the Trojans’ priorities.

Oct. 6, 2023

Nov. 12, 1994: No. 17 USC 45, No. 13 Arizona 28

USC quarterback Brad Otton (10) celebrates on the sidelines after the Trojans defeated Northwestern in the Rose Bowl
USC quarterback Brad Otton (10) led the Trojans to a win over Arizona in 1994.
(Michael Caulfield / Associated Press)

Arizona started the season on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a championship contender after finishing the 1993 season with a dominant win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. A 10-9 loss to Oregon on Oct. 29 dented Arizona’s Rose Bowl chances then the Trojans ended them by hanging 550 yards on the nation’s sixth-best defense. Even an injury to starting quarterback Rob Johnson couldn’t slow the Trojans, who turned to backup Brad Otton. Otton found Keyshawn Johnson for a 43-yard catch on his first pass attempt, helping the Trojans to 434 total passing yards.

Oct. 27, 2012: Arizona 39, No. 10 USC 36

USC's Marqise Lee runs for a touchdown as Arizona's Derrick Rainey purses during a 2012 game.
USC’s Marqise Lee (9) runs for a touchdown as Arizona’s Derrick Rainey (17) purses on Oct. 27, 2012.
(Wily Low / Associated Press)

Even a Pac-12 record 345 receiving yards by Marqise Lee couldn’t save USC. Five turnovers and 117 penalty yards overshadowed the receiver’s historic performance as the Trojans were outscored 26-15 during the second half. Matt Barkley threw for 493 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while the Trojans also lost three fumbles.

Oct. 11, 2014: USC 28, No. 10 Arizona 26

USC running back Javorius Allen (37) carries the ball during a 2014 win over Arizona.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

The game that started an internet movement. As Arizona tried to mount a 15-point, fourth-quarter comeback in Tucson, Twitter recorded its first instance of the hashtag #Pac12AfterDark, according to ESPN. The Trojans built a two-score lead behind Javorius Allen’s 205 rushing yards before going scoreless during the fourth quarter. Arizona’s Jared Baker led the comeback with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 1-yard score with 1:07 remaining. The Wildcats’ game-tying two-point conversion failed, but they recovered an onside kick to set up a 36-yard kick by Casey Skowron with 12 seconds remaining. It drifted wide right and USC escaped.