This morning Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and the entire ESPN CollegeGameDay team worked their magic on USC's campus for the first time ever.
If this doesn't symbol the turnaround that has been USC's season for you, I don't know what will. Granted USC has been a staple for the program, appearing every year since 2003.
Also, Stanford is certainly a big draw for the audience, seeing as how they are poised at the moment to make it the BCS College Football Playoffs. All of that being said, this is definitely a good thing.
For one thing, it's going to be all USC everything. Seeing as how this is a homecoming game, the alumni and students are going to pack the Quad and the campus for this game day, with excitement at what I would call an all-time high for this season. The Coliseum is sold out, it's homecoming, but more importantly this game has been on everybody's mind since probably the Oregon State game.
USC is starting to look like the team it is supposed to be. Kessler is finally getting his reps in as the full-time starter, the receiving core is obviously extremely talented, the run game is deep enough where even without Silas Redd playing this week we still have the capability to wreak havoc on a defense, our defense is looking strong as well able to keep us ahead in games where we have trouble scoring and our special teams was absolutely lights out last week.
In short, this is the week where we want to be playing them. This is it; we are finally becoming the team we were supposed to be. The moment Lee Corso donned the Trojan outfit this morning, fans instantly remembered the fact that USC is 15-0 when selected by Corso for CollegeGameDay events.
That's not to say that this will be easy. Stanford has been a lights out team this whole season, blowing out Washington State and Arizona State, two of the teams we lost to. That said, if we are looking at past performances, their lone loss did come to Utah, who we beat 19-3. A good sign.
However, we all know football is full of random occurrences and that teams have off games, so sometimes losses like that can be flukes for an otherwise strong team. Two things are for sure though: Stanford is a powerhouse team offensively scoring 20 or more on four ranked teams and two: we still have a shot.
Corso and Fowler know this second point, otherwise they wouldn't be here. They wouldn't have come to this game if it was at the beginning of the season. We've proven ourselves to be competitors, something our team has to be proud of.
When Kiffin got fired, I pretty much said that this season was going to be over in terms of competition for us. I figured the damage, so to speak, was already done, and that there was no real way to come back, regardless of how much Coach O inspired the boys, from such a sloppy start under a faulty leader.
I was happy that the boys finally got to have some fun; I loved reading the stories of how Coach O boosted morale all season. It's pretty amazing to the transformation in the way some of the players look on the field and sidelines; the team essence is more than noticeable, something I thought to be lacking under Kiffin, especially when things went south, like to say, El Paso.
I was okay with us throwing in the towel competitively because at the end of the day, these are just kids. And it was really hard to see kids struggling the way they were. The highlight of this season, regardless of how this game plays out, was seeing an injured Marqise Lee on the sideline smiling during Coach O's first game as coach. Marqise is a competitor.
We know this team has proven me wrong. We can make some noise. We could go out there and beat Stanford. How great of a story would that be? Crippled program who lost their head coach at the beginning of the season, turns it around to beat a number four ranked team. Hollywood would kill for that story.
Of course, I think I have a better story, one that I would much rather pay to see. Team starts from nothing, loses their coach, has an battered star player, a new quarterback, but still somehow comes back to sellout one of the most historic stadiums in the history of the sport. And loud, passionate fans cheer and support this team from the beginning to the end of the day, showing them what it truly means to be a Trojan football player.
I like that story a lot. And so does ESPN. Now, let's go out there and give it to them.