Boston College and USC will be meeting for just the third time ever when they clash in the Emerald Bowl. USC won both games of a home-and-home series in 1987 and 1988. Until now, no ACC team has ever faced USC in a bowl game.
Boston College is making its 11th straight bowl appearance under three different head coaches - Tom O'Brien, Jeff Jagodzinski and Frank Spaziani. The Eagles are the first team to appear twice in what is now the Emerald Bowl. They played in the 2003 game when it was known as the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl, and emerged with a 35-21 victory over Colorado State.
Southern Cal is making its ninth consecutive bowl appearance, but this game ends a string of four straight Rose Bowls. The Trojans own a 31-16 all-time record in bowl games, including 24 wins in the Rose Bowl.
Boston College had won eight straight bowl games before dropping a 16-14 decision to Vanderbilt in last year’s Music City Bowl. The Eagles own an alltime bowl record of 13-7.
This year's B.C. squad finished the regular season with an 8-4 record overall, and went 5-3 in the ACC to finish a game out of first-place in the Atlantic division behind Clemson. It won the division each of the past two seasons, losing to Virginia Tech both times in the ACC Championship game.
USC also went 8-4 in the regular season for its worst overall record under Pete Carroll since his first squad went 6-6. This year's 5-4 conference mark is the worst ever under Carroll whose first USC team managed to go 5-3. USC won or shared the PAC-10 title for seven straight seasons from 2002-2008.
Overall, Carroll owns a 96-19 record at USC and alltime. He owns a 6-2 bowl record and a current 3-game postseason winning streak.
Spaziani is 9-4 at Boston College and alltime. He served as interim head coach for the Eagles' 2006 victory over Navy in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. "Spaz" was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach in January after Jagodzinski was fired for speaking to the New York Jets about their head coaching vacancy without permission from the school. The 2009 season marked his 13th overall at Chestnut Hill.
On May 14, Spaziani and the Eagles learned their all-American linebacker, Mark Herzlich, had been diagnosed with a rare form of bone and muscle cancer known as "Ewing's Sarcoma". Herzlich courageously completed his treatment and learned in November that he was cancer free.
USC also had to deal with trauma. RB Stafon Johnson suffered severe throat damage when a weight bar slipped and fell during a workout days before the Trojans' game at Cal in week 5 of the season. It was a miracle that the incident didn't kill him, and it was even more miraculous that he was able to speak in a whisper less than 6 weeks later.
Johnson stepped back on the field for Senior Day against Arizona, albeit in street clothes.
Boston College's 94th-ranked offense is led by QB Dave Shinskie, RB Montel Harris and WR Rich Gunnell.
Shinskie is a 25-year-old freshman who won the starting job after wrapping up a minor league baseball career this past summer in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization. But over the last 7 games of the season, Shinski threw 11 interceptions and just 7 TD passes.
Gunnell leads the Eagles' receivers with 54 catches for 750 yards and six touchdowns. Harris has rushed for 1,355 yards and 13 scores.
LB Luke Kuechly led Boston College's 23rd-ranked defense. In Herzlich's absence, the true freshman topped the team in tackles with 142 (81 solo, 61 assists), and tackles for loss with 12.5.
USC has had its share of problems with true freshman QB Matt Barkley. He completed 184-of-315 attempts for 2,385 yards, but tossed just 13 TD passes while being intercepted 12 times. As a result, USC slipped to 68th in passing offense and 58th in total offense.
Tailback Joe McKnight is the leading rusher with 1,014 yards and 8 TD's on 164 carries. WR Damian Williams led the USC receiving corps with 58 catches for 821 yards and 6 TD's.
The Trojans have issues on defense, too. USC ranks 43rd in total defense and 42nd against the run.
This year's Emerald Bowl will be televised on ESPN on December 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET.