Who says Trojan fans aren’t excited?


As if USC fans didn’t need any more abuse after an offseason of being dragged through a ditch on the back of a carriage drawn by horses that just ate a can of beefareeno, this comes as a preview to USC’s first game at the Coliseum this weekend:

CBSSports.com opened up an article about the USC-Virginia game by saying “this may be the least excited [USC’s] crowd has been for a home opener in quite some time.”

I’m here to disagree with that.

First, let’s take a look at some of the home openers in seasons past. In 2007, the second-best football program in a state known more for its potatoes than football (the University of Idaho) came to town, and most of the Coliseum crowd was gone by the third quarter.

Then, after Ohio State and ESPN’s College Gameday came in 2008 in what was actually an exciting matchup (at the very least the hype was exciting),  San Jose State invaded the Coliseum in 2009 only to see USC put its backups in after halftime.

So for Virginia, a mid-level ACC team, to come to USC this year is a major upgrade from two of the past three seasons. Fans can get excited that sophomore quaterback Matt Barkley, freshman tailback Dillon Baxter and senior wide reciever Ronald Johnson might actually play until the fourth quarter, and about a coach other than Pete Carroll leading the way.

Speaking of Baxter, the freshman phenom actually plays his first game this weekend thanks to a suspension by coach Lane Kiffin that held him out of last week’s game. You’re telling me that Trojan fans aren’t excited to see the most touted running back recruit since Joe McKnight or even Reggie Bush shake defenders on the field rather than on YouTube clips?

After all, the public isn’t allowed in practice anymore, which makes this team more mysterious than teams in seasons’ past. It’s like when you were a little kid going to Disneyland; you get to see your favorite characters in person for the first time. Try telling your 7-year-old self that you weren’t saying, “Are we there yet?” from the moment your car backed out of the driveway.

However, with Disney characters and USC teams during the last decade, you knew more or less what you were going to see. The exciting part about this team is that nobody really knows what it is capable of. Sure, USC won fairly comfortably at Hawai’i, but the Warriors were an anomaly, playing a spread offense the likes of which the Trojans probably won’t see again.

Is the Trojan offense led by Barkley as potent as it appeared against a weak Hawai’ian defensive team? Is the defense equally as bad as it looked against a unique Hawai’ian offensive team? Virginia will come out running a pro-style offense that the Trojans should be more accustomed to, and with some shuffling in the defensive line, the front seven has the ability to be among the best in the nation.

But that’s the thing. Everyone is undervaluing this Trojan team. For the first time in a while, USC is an underdog on the national scale. Nobody is predicting the Trojans to win the Pac-10. So instead of being set up for a big letdown, fans are set up to ride the success of the team. After all, whether you admit it or not, games are much more exciting when your team isn’t favored by 50 points.

Taking all this into account, most Trojan fans come into this home opener with a chip on their shoulder. They’ve been hearing all offseason about players transferring, high-profile recruits reneging, how their team is going to suffer with a depleted roster and how their season is a lost cause before it started just because the team can’t go to a bowl game.

Whether it’s arrogance, blind faith, extreme confidence or just foolishness, many Trojan fans will proudly point to that chip on their shoulder and predict that USC will give the NCAA a huge middle finger and defy everyone’s expectations to go 13-0 this year. That’s how excited USC fans are for this season.

So CBSSports and anyone else who thinks Trojan fans are bummed out about this home opener, come to campus at noon on Saturday, seven hours before game time, and try telling the tens of thousands of fans clad in cardinal and gold fighting for tailgating room that they aren’t excited for this home opener.

“Spittin’ Sports” runs every Thursday. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Kenny at klegan@usc.edu.

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