There is nothing quite like USC rivalry games that makes one full with Trojan pride, brings out the true USC Super Fans and comes with such a memorable connection to where you were or what happened in the game, that long after time on the clock expires, it still makes you want to keep re-living the experience.
I’ve become a die-hard USC fan through marriage, thanks to my husband’s love for the team growing up in Southern California and being a season ticket holder for the last 15 years. He even jokes that I may be a bigger fan than him now. One of our best stories comes from our trip to the USC-Notre Dame on October 15, 2005. The Trojans were in the middle of what would be an undefeated season, and we had to get past the Irish with a victory to keep the streak alive. We flew to Chicago with our two best friends, without game tickets but a seat on the Trojan bus to South Bend and a strong belief in our gut that we would bare witness to a great game worthy of the rivalry’s lore.
Pulling into the stadium through the tailgating Irish faithful was unlike anything I had ever experienced before – the air was thick with tension and while most fans were respectful there were a lot of eyeballs staring us down with silent daggers. We shook those off and got down to the task at hand – looking for tickets. While my husband is skilled at the art of scalping, this game had such high expectations and attendance that finding tickets proved really difficult. We did a lot of running back and forth through the parking lot, splitting up to search for the best seats available no matter the price. It came pretty close to game time and one bidding war with another couple but we scored seats inside the stadium. Getting tickets was our first victory of the day! We were amped up and ready for kickoff.
The game itself lived up to its expectations. Every Trojan fan remembers this game and from where they were watching it. We were part of the lucky group of fans who were blessed to being watching it in person. My husband and I had amazing seats, close to the field and across the from Trojan Band which we loved – kept us dancing in our seats the whole game! Even better, we were on the right side of the field with a direct view of the end zone to watch the Trojans make their final march for one last opportunity to score and win the game.
USC Super Fans know the story well: On 4th and nine, Dwayne Jarrett went sprinting down the sideline for a huge first down. On the two yard line the ball gets fumbled out of bounds. The Irish think the game is over but time gets put back on the clock. And with 3 seconds left in the game Reggie Bush assists Matt Leinart by helping to get him across the goal line. Trojans score and win the game! This is how it happened for me watching from the stands: I was holding my husband’s hand the entire time, shifting my weight from foot to foot and keeping as calm as I could, silently praying that they score – and having the faith to know that they would. Dwayne Jarrett sprinting towards us gave way to my first big cheer and smile, and I loved how that one play silenced the Irish in the stadium. I watched as the Notre Dame fans started to storm the field knowing it wasn’t time for that… then cheered and clapped when they were told to stand back because there was still game left to play. The Bush Push happened right in front of us and I was finally able to lesson the death grip I had on my poor husband’s hand because I couldn’t control my jumping up and down. Literally tears of joy came to my eyes and we just hugged and stood there in awe; in relief; in feeling proud of the team and in being a Trojan; in feeling grateful of the experience and to witness it live.
We met up with our friends in front of the Trojan Band and laughed together and re-lived the moments that had just played out before us. We still talk about that game to this day, and will for all our years to come.