USC quarterback Matt Barkley scrambles for a first down against Arizona… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. -- USC's near decade of dominance in what has become the Pacific 12 Conference was not without Trojans missteps and major upsets.
From 2000 to 2010, USC lost to nearly every team that made up the former configuration of the conference.
Every team except one.
USC has defeated Arizona State 11 consecutive times, a streak the No. 23 Trojans hope to extend tonight at Sun Devil Stadium.
Linebacker Chris Galippo, a usually insightful fifth-year senior, came up empty when asked if he had any theories to explain the Trojans' domination of the Sun Devils.
"I have no idea," he said. "I'm sure they're probably wondering the same thing: 'How come we haven't beaten these guys in 11 years?'
"Hopefully, we make it 12."
Last season at the Coliseum, Trojans offensive lineman Tyron Smith blocked an extra-point attempt, Torin Harris returned the ball to the end zone for two points and then-struggling kicker Joe Houston nailed a late field goal to give USC a 34-33 victory.
"Redemption is a sweet thing," Houston said afterward.
Arizona State wouldn't know. Not when it comes to the Trojans.
Sun Devils Coach Dennis Erickson has schemed against USC at Washington State, Oregon State and Arizona State. But he is 1-8 against the Trojans, the lone victory coming in 2000, when Oregon State ended a conference-record 26-game losing streak.
Erickson dismissed the notion that there was extra pressure this week because his team was facing the Trojans. "Playing USC is playing USC," he said.
Though the Trojans enter the game as a three-point underdog, history suggests they will either find a way to win or Arizona State will find a way to give the game away.
It wasn't always like that. Arizona State stunned USC, 20-7, in its first Pacific 10 Conference game in 1978.
But USC has not lost to Arizona State since the Sun Devils handed the Trojans a 1999 defeat at the Coliseum.
USC has been particularly impressive or lucky at Sun Devil Stadium.
•In 2000, USC blew a 29-point lead in the second half, but the Trojans won, 44-38, in double overtime.
•In 2003, a week after losing to California in triple overtime, USC trailed 17-10 early in the third quarter. Quarterback Matt Leinart, who had limped out of the locker room at halftime, kept handing the ball off to freshman tailback LenDale White, who rushed for 140 yards and two second-half touchdowns. USC scored 27 unanswered points en route to a victory that started a 34-game winning streak and encompassed two national titles.
•In 2005, an Arizona State team averaging 47 points and nearly 600 yards led, 21-3, at halftime. Then USC staged its biggest comeback in 31 years. White and Reggie Bush each ran for two second-half touchdowns and the Trojans intercepted five passes in a 38-28 win.
•In 2007, Trojans quarterback John David Booty passed for four touchdowns and ran for another, and the Trojans pummeled Sun Devils quarterback Rudy Carpenter for six sacks in a 44-24 victory.
•Two years ago, despite one of the worst performances of quarterback Matt Barkley's career, the Trojans hung on for a 14-9 victory that gave them 10 consecutive wins against the Sun Devils.
Now the Trojans have the opportunity to make it an even dozen.
"It isn't about anything else except going in and playing well and getting a win, regardless of how that happens," USC Coach Lane Kiffin said. "We've got to win the game and then get out of there."