Thursday, October 18, 2007

Road Trip for a Home Game (USC)

I'd like to write a comprehensive preview of this Saturday's Notre Dame - USC tilt, but time is short. An old and dear friend of my wife's family called about a month ago and said he had some USC tickets with our name on them. (He's a fairly prominent Alum who lives in South Bend). Some quick work with revealed that if we were willing to fly at strange hours we could actually make the trip happen within the OC Domer family budget. So we take off tonight from LAX at around midnight and get to Chicago tomorrow morning, then we fly home from Chicago at about 6:00 a.m. Sunday. Factoring in the drives between Chicago and South Bend and spending as much time as possible on campus Friday and Saturday, it looks like we might be able to get a little sleep Friday night, but that's about all.

I'm taking my camera, so I'll take about a thousand pictures and put the best of them up here in a slide show like I did after the UCLA game. I won't be able to post normally until Sunday night at the earliest, but I hope to make some remote posts (including live pictures!) using my cell phone throughout the weekend, so check back in with OC Domer to see how the weekend is going.

The Domer Law Blog has a nice USC preview up, and I pretty much agree with his analysis, including this:

This is the granddaddy of them all, the greatest rivalry in college football.

It's become cliche, but it is often true that when these two teams meet, you can throw out the records.


Despite the fact that the matchups appear to favor the Trojans, I simply refuse to allow myself to believe that we will lose this game. It means too much to the players and coaches for them not to come out and play the game of their lives on Saturday morning.

I'm hoping that a couple years from now, when we are celebrating our 12th national championship, I'll be able to say that I was in Notre Dame Stadium for the turning point in this program, when the Irish started something special that woke up the echoes, not just for a fleeting week or two, but for good.

This week could serve as the foundation for the building of a dynasty. It's that important.
I can't add much to that.

As a resident of Southern California, the USC game is always huge. Neighbors, co-workers, friends are all USC grads and/or fans. My wife's family is littered with USC alumni from her Dad, to her aunt, to her brother. Radio and television is saturated with Trojan coverage year-round. For a Domer in the OC there is no bigger date on the calendar than the date of the USC game - it means an entire year of bragging rights or humility depending on the outcome.

Notre Dame heads into Saturday a total mystery. Instead of numbers on the awful green jerseys they will be wearing they ought to be wearing question marks. Youth and inexperince all over the field. At quarterback we're trotting out the third guy this season to make his first-ever collegiate start. The defense is steadily improving, and shows flashes of brilliance, but they are still giving up big yards.

The offense has been woeful, despite glimmers of potential. Everyone is hoping that Evan Sharpley can be Evan Spark-ley and get the Irish on the board early so we aren't playing catch-up in the second half, again.

USC comes in proud but banged up. They had their pride tempered significantly by the loss to Stanford, but the fact is that their fans are really looking past this game. They see Oregon and Cal on the horizon, and don't think the Irish present any sort of an obstacle. USC will feature at QB an experienced John David Booty playing with a broken middle finger on his throwing hand, or an inexperienced Mark Sanchez making his second career start. Radio reports here are saying that Sanchez is the likely starter, but there is no way of knowing if Pete Carroll is blowing smoke. The Trojan offensive line is really banged up and may present some real opportunities for our D-line to make some plays, as USC has been prone to both turnovers and penalties this year. USC has other guys injured all over the field, which has led to erratic and un-inspiring play for much of this season (including the big loss to Stanford).

Bottom line: Both of these teams are a snake-bit this year. They are not playing at levels that they are accustomed to historically. They are making mistakes and feature youth and inexperience on both sides of the ball, albeit talented youth and inexperience. The way I see it, the home field advantage for Notre Dame is huge this week, especially if Sanchez is at QB for USC. If Notre Dame stadium can present a truly hostile environment for the Trojans, I think this year's team can be rattled. And if we can rattle them, anything can happen.

I can't even remember what year it was, but a few years ago my wife and I went back for the USC game with her brother, his wife, and another USC couple. It was a cold, drizzly, miserable day in Notre Dame stadium. It was clear early on that neither the Trojans nor their fans had any interest in playing a football game in those conditions. USC was flat and uninspired and the Irish won in workmanlike fashion in front of a bunch of happy home fans and miserable Southern Californians. The weather forecast right now is calling for cool weather and some showers on Saturday. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but as far as I am concerned, the colder and wetter the better. Think snow!

Go Irish! Beat the Trojans!


Jack said...

The GREEN jerseys will do it. If we win, don't take them off.

Colonialhead said...

Have a great time and come back with a sick report. Go IRISH!