As we learned yesterday, Alabama will play USC on Sept. 3, 2016 in the Cowboys Classic in AT&T Stadium, the shining, shimmering football monolith in Arlington, Texas.
The Alabama-USC rivalry has been dormant for a few decades but it remains historic. The Crimson Tide currently hold the winning record of 5-2 over the Trojans, but the teams haven’t played since the 1985 Aloha Bowl and I know we all vividly remember that game. Alabama and USC famously played home-and-home games in 1970 and 1971. These games are two of the Crimson Tide’s most significant, with USC and Sam Cunningham running wild in Legion Field in 1970, and Bear Bryant unveiling his version of the wishbone offense in ’71, returning the favor to USC. Showtime even made a documentary about the two games and about the friendship of Bryant and legendary USC coach John McKay. The teams then played their last regular season games against each other in another home-and-home series in 1977-78, with each team winning its game on the road.
Other than reuniting a lost rivalry, the major on-field narrative for the intangible prospect of this game is that Lane Kiffin – if still employed at this juncture – will get to face his former team. But away from the field, the major gripe with the matchup is these teams couldn’t figure out a way to play a home-and-home series. It will be Alabama’s third trip to Jerry Jones’s playplace in five years, with consecutive season openers for the Crimson Tide being played in Texas in 2015 against Wisconsin and 2016 against the Trojans.