USC Trojans Football: 5 Best Road Trips on the USC Schedule (Guide for Fans)
As any good USC Trojan fan can tell you, the best place to watch the men of Troy is right at home in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Nothing can beat the familiarity of this temple of tradition where the ghosts of 89 years of all things "Trojan" permeate the very souls of their rabid fans.
Of course, the haters will tell you that a successful trip to the coliseum is one that you simply survive, but fans of USC will simply shrug and say that this component only adds to the aura of the stately shrine of so many sporting memories through the decades.
Of course, the Trojans cannot play all of their games at home and this year, five excursions must be taken by the Trojans under the auspices of their 2011 schedule.
And this year that road schedule offers USC fans some great venues, interesting games and in one case, a historic event that will feature something that has never happened before.
Each slide will provide an overview of the game and a slide for the particulars of each venue and city.
So for those fans willing to gas up the station wagon and follow their beloved Trojans to the end of the earth (is that what they are calling South Bend these days?), here is a guide for your road enjoyment and a list of the best road trips for 2011.
We'll leave the light on for you.
No. 5: Arizona State (September 24 in Tempe, Arizona)
While this road trip is listed as last on the list of great roadies, it may very well be the most important of all for the Trojans in terms of its relevance to their season aspirations.
You see, the Sun Devils are going to be very good this year.
So good that many pundits have them winning the new Pac-12 southern division.
Yes, that is the division USC resides in.
Of course, USC is 10-0 against ASU over the last 10 years, but the last few have been anything but easy.
And Dennis Erickson's defense, led by linebacker Vontaze Burfict, is suffocating.
Just like the heat will be on that late September Saturday.
So, the Trojans had better be ready.
And if you are going to the game, pack your Bermuda shorts and make sure the batteries are charged in your pocket fan.
You're going to need it.
Tempe Road Trip Particulars
City: Tempe, Arizona
Stadium: Sun Devil Stadium
Ticket Prices: Ranges from $39-78 as an average, but the official ASU site lists none for the USC game.
Best Hotels in Tempe:
Tempe Mission Palms: Luxury hotel that features nice amenities for prices that range from $102-228.
Best Western Plus (Tempe by the mall): Good amenities for budget prices ($68-105).
Best Restaurants in Tempe:
Four Peaks Brewing Company: Great food, beer and prices ($15).
Cafe Boa: Great food and service along with delicious "eye candy" for the gents.
Things to do in Tempe:
Big Surf Water Park: It gets hot in Tempe, need I say more?
Tempe History Museum: I have an MA in history. Did you think I would leave this one out?
Sea Life Arizona Aquarium: Indoors and air conditioned. A great way to spend a hot AZ day.
No. 4: Colorado (November 5 in Boulder, Colorado)
The Trojans will probably need their cold weather gear when the Colorado Buffaloes welcome USC to chilly Boulder in the first week of November.
The Buff's, which finished 5-7 in their last season in the Big-12, should be an improved team under new head coach Jon Embree, who takes over for Dan Hawkins.
Colorado will return 17 starters including nine on offense along with quarterback Tyler Hansen and their experience on both sides of the ball could present problems for the Trojans, if USC fails to gel quickly.
And then there is the "cold factor."
With a 7:00 p.m. MST start time in what promises to be a crisp, at best, temperature, it will be a challenge for the warm weather Trojans to keep the heat flowing.
Of course, expect Ed Orgeron to come out in a short sleeved shirt and mock any of his Trojans who give in to the chill.
That's just the way coach "O" rolls..
Boulder Road Trip Particulars
City: Boulder, Colorado
Stadium: Folsom Field
Ticket Prices: Listed from $69 on "Stub hub"
Hotels in Boulder:
Courtyard by Marriott: Nice hotel, good amenities and decent price ($139-201).
Days Inn: Cheaper, less amenities but also less pricey ($77-127).
Restaurants in Boulder:
Flagstaff House Restaurant: Great food, romantic and the prices reflect that ($41-80).
Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery: Good food, great beer and my kind of prices ($5-10).
Things to do in Boulder:
El Dorado Canyon: Great place to hike and ride horses.
Pearl Street Mall: Fun place to shop with lots of cool street performers.
No. 3: California (Thursday, October 13 in San Francisco)
A change of venue while Cal's Memorial stadium is refurbished means the Trojans get to play in the site of their last bowl victory.
In 2009, the Trojans beat Boston College 24-13 at beautiful AT&T Park, the home of baseball's San Francisco Giants.
Now, in 2011, USC will try to continue their mastery over Jeff Tedford's Bears.
Sporting a 9-1 record over Cal, the Trojans will look to beat a Bears team that has been projected to finish either fourth or fifth in the new Pac-12 North division.
Cal will be breaking in a new quarterback (so long Kevin Riley) and will feature a new running back (adieu Shane Vereen) but should still be fairly potent on offense.
Despite the unusual configuration that AT&T Park has for football (both teams share a single sideline), any excuse for a roadie to San Francisco is one to be taken advantage of.
San Francisco Road Trip Particulars
City: San Francisco, California
Stadium: AT&T Park
Tickets: Priced from $98 on "Stub hub."
Hotels in San Francisco:
The Donatello Hotel: Great reviews but kind of pricey ($174-284). On the other hand, isn't everything in SF?
Columbus Motor Inn: Good reviews and cheap ($100-175) by San Francisco standards.
Restaurants in San Francisco:
Restaurant Gary Danko: Rated No. 1 on Tripadvisor.com but expensive ($70-100).
Dotties True Blue Cafe: Great reviews, reasonable prices ($20).
Things to do in San Francisco:
Fisherman's Wharf: Duh.
Golden Gate Park: Beautiful grounds with museums and tea gardens. Very nice!
No. 2: Oregon (November 19, in Eugene, Oregon)
Before I get any nasty comments about the lack of quality attractions in Eugene, remember Trojan fans, this is about the game and not the venue.
While Oregon now resides in the Pac-12 North division and USC resides in the South, it is still a huge game with national rankings probably at stake.
Now that the NCAA, in all of its brilliance, has denied the USC appeal, this game won't carry quite the significance that it might otherwise have.
Yet, if the Trojans could somehow beat the Ducks on the road and then win their South division, it would amount to a huge "F-you" to the pompous asses who govern college athletics.
And then there is the matter of next year.
Lane Kiffin will want to crank up the momentum for 2012 and what better way to do it than take one from Chip Kelly's boys on the road?
After the spankings the Ducks have laid on USC the last couple of years, many who bleed cardinal and gold think the time for payback is right.
Now they hope the Trojans agree.
Eugene Road Trip Particulars
City: Eugene, Oregon
Population: 155, 231
Stadium: Autzen Stadium
Tickets: From $110 and up
Hotels in Eugene:
Comfort Suites: Best reviewed hotel in Eugene according to Tripadvisor.com ($122-147).
Red Lion Hotel: Good reviews and inexpensive to boot ($74-124).
Restaurants in Eugene:/
Marche': Good reviews, reasonable price for a romantic place ($31-50).
Mucho Gusto: I've eaten at a couple of Mucho Gusto's, not bad Mexican food for the price ($5-10).
Things to do in Eugene:
Cascades Raptor Center: Wildlife center that features over 33 species from owls to bald eagles.
Museum of Natural and Cultural History: Like I said, I have an MA in history. What else am I going to recommend?
No. 1: Notre Dame (October 22, South Bend, Indiana)
Ah, the sounds, the crisp Midwestern weather, the rabid emotions of Irish fans, touchdown Jesus, the tradition, the lights.
Wait a minute. The lights??
Yes, for the first time in this storied rivalry, the Trojans and the Fighting Irish will play under the lights in a night game at South Bend.
While the purists may have some reservations, the rest of the nation won't.
Now thrust into the prime time spotlight, this game promises to deliver the same kind of thrills that has so often made this series legendary.
And with Notre Dame finally breaking the Trojans winning streak last year, payback will be on the minds of Lane Kiffin and USC.
Of course, the Irish have plans of their own and that includes starting a winning streak against the men of Troy.
And 80,000+ fans who will be attending the game just hope that the electric bill has been paid.
Notre Dame Road Trip Particulars
City: South Bend, Indiana
Population: Appx. 104,000
Stadium: Notre Dame Stadium
Tickets: If you can find them, $315 and up
Hotels in South Bend:
Ivy Court Inns and Suites: Rated No. 1 on Tripadvisor.com and ridiculously cheap ($64-99).
America's Best Value Inn: Cheap and received four out of five stars ($59-76).
Restaurants in South Bend:
Alexander's Grill: Family oriented with an extensive menu and great prices ($4-12).
Mikado: Good Asian food at a reasonable price ($10-15).
Things to do in South Bend:
Notre Dame University: Stroll the hallowed grounds, wear cardinal and gold, piss off the locals and students.
College Football Hall of Fame: Why are you in South Bend? To see a college football game. Now go learn its history.
The criteria for ranking these games/cities was just that.
Both the quality of the game as well as the city it was played in were the driving mechanisms for establishing the order reflected in this list.
Otherwise, San Francisco would have been a hands down No. 1, as the city by the bay is one of the most beautiful in all of the world.
However, even if USC vs. Notre Dame was housed in Siberia, it would have topped this humble list.
This is not to say that South Bend is even remotely akin to freezing climes of Russia. It's not.
South Bend has a charm all of its own and take it from me, Notre Dame fans are nothing but pure class.
So when ranking this year's "roadies," it just came down to who would occupy slots two to five.
For Trojan fans, road trips are a labor of love, and it doesn't matter where these intrepid followers of the men of Troy go to cheer on their beloved team.
Regardless of the venue, the quality the city it's hosted in or the weather that accompanies it, road trips to cheer on the Trojans will always be worthwhile.
As long as the cardinal and gold win of course.