When Steve Sarkisian calls plays for the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Clemson Tigers in Monday night's national championship, it won't be the first time he's been part of a defending national champion riding a long winning streak with a No. 1 ranking heading into the championship game. While serving as the USC Trojans' quarterbacks coach under Pete Carroll, Sarkisian coached in very similar circumstances in the 2005 BCS championship against the Texas Longhorns.
The epic 2005 battle between USC and Texas, in which the No. 2 Longhorns upset the No. 1 Trojans 41-38 at the Rose Bowl, is strikingly similar to Monday night's matchup in at least six different ways.
In addition to those similarities, Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin were both on staff for USC in 2005 just as they've both been a part of the 2016 Alabama staff until Kiffin left the team last Monday. Unfortunately for Sarkisian, Kiffin and USC, the Trojans' 34-game winning streak ended in the championship game in Pasadena.
The similarities between the Carroll era at USC and Nick Saban's run at Alabama aren't limited to the 2005 season.
The 2004 Trojans are the last team to go wire-to wire as the AP No. 1 team. With a win over Clemson, Alabama would join USC as two of the three teams to accomplish that feat since the AP's preaseason poll began in 1950.
From 2002-05, USC won an FBS record 16 straight games against ranked opponents, including wins that were later vacated. With a win over Clemson, Alabama would break that record with its 17th straight win against a ranked opponent.
This is also not the first time that Sarkisian has taken over offensive-coordinator duties from Kiffin, as Sarkisian replaced Kiffin at USC after the 2006 season. USC went 23-3 in 2005-06 under Kiffin, and the Trojans went 23-3 again in 2007-08 under Sarkisian. Alabama will hope to match that successful transition.
The 2008 Trojans' defense allowed 10 points or fewer in 10 games, a feat that hasn't been matched since. Alabama can accomplish the feat against Clemson.
ESPN's Football Power Index gives Alabama a 60.4 percent chance to beat Clemson, but the mighty 2005 USC Trojans serve as a cautionary tale that anything can happen.