It was Christmas 2001, when Pete Carroll finished off his first season at Southern California with a thud.
A Trojans squad that needed a late-season winning streak to go 6-5, but featured Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu, lost to Utah 10-6 in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The next season, USC re-established itself as a national power, starting a streak of seven seasons in which it won the Pac-10 and went to the Bowl Championship Series.
That run ended for the Trojans this season. USC finished 8-4 and in the middle of the Pac-10 pack. Instead of a prime date on the bowl schedule, the Trojans were shipped upstate to San Francisco where they will play Boston College in the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 26.
"There are a lot of things to look forward to with this game," Carroll said. "We're playing a team with a strong tradition and it looks like it's a good matchup across the board.
"Also, we get to stay in California, and that's good for our fans, as it will be easy for them to get to the game.
"Most of all, we get to play one more game this year. We're disappointed with the way we played the last half of this season, so the Emerald Bowl gives us a chance to finish the year on a positive note."
But how motivated will USC be to take out its frustrations on a BC team that comes in 8-4, but seems to be no match for even these not-so-mighty Trojans?
The Eagles beat only two teams that will play in bowls and neither would qualify as a heavyweight: Florida State and Central Michigan.
Against the three best Atlantic Coast Conference teams BC faced, the Eagles lost to Clemson, Virginia Tech and North Carolina by a combined 104-34.
Boston College can't match up with USC's talent and athleticism, but who knows what simply getting a crack at the Trojans might do for the Eagles.
They don't want to hear about USC's down year. Beating the Trojans, even in the Emerald Bowl, would go down as a big win for BC.
Just like it was for the Utes back in 2001.