USC began the season by beating Syracuse in the eighth Kickoff Classic. They also won non-conference games against Penn State and Ohio State, the latter of which was suspended with 2:36 remaining because of severe thunderstorms. The Trojans would finish second in the Pac-10 and lost to Michigan State in their bowl game in an outcome reminiscent of their 1987 season.
Quarterback Todd Marinovich led the team in passing, completing 196 of 322 passes for 2,423 yards with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Mazio Royster led the team in rushing with 235 carries for 1,168 yards and eight touchdowns. Gary Wellman led the team in receiving with 66 catches for 1,015 yards and five touchdowns.