Liking us a little football

Time to have some fun. It's football. And it's here. And we can stop wondering and start watching. And that's as good as it gets right now for USC fans -- and their football team. So enjoy.

Has a USC football team ever had an opener whose arrival will be any more welcome than Saturday's Coliseum skirmish with Fresno State (4:30 p.m., Fox).

That's not really a question.

Saturday isn't really about a new era, or a new style or Steve Sarkisian or a return of all the good things that happened last season or a chance to see all the newcomers in action for the first time or even to see how much the guys who saved a season last fall have improved. USC fans want all of that -- all rolled up into a nice ball.

A football, if you will. That's what we want. We want football. It's why we're here. it's why you're here. Football -- USC football -- is what matters.

Does it matter that this will be the second of back-to-back USC-Fresno State games? It does not. Not even a little bit. The Bulldogs will come after the Trojans. As will their fans. And that makes for a fun game -- of football.

Does it matter what Josh Shaw or Anthony Brown said as they defected from protecting the team to doing their own thing? It does not. They won't be here Saturday. They won't be playing football for USC. That was their call, in the end. No fun for them.

We always thought football was the ultimate team game, so many moving parts, so many different skill sets, so many fans and the big bands that are all part of it. As they will be Saturday.

You can choose to be a part of it or not. Being here, being here for the opener, whether you're playing or rooting, is where it's at. Those who aren't here aren't a part of the fun. Forget what's down the road. We're talking tomorrow.

This is about one game, one day, one team. Next week and next month and maybe even the next calendar year will be great, whatever happens. But they don't matter now. Saturday does.

This team does. These coaches do. The new systems do. "Fight On" does. And Traveler, too.

Sure, we'll be looking to see how USC handled the transition from three weeks of a great preseason camp to game-week prep under the most unexpected 1-2 punch of outside distractions. No one can possibly know right now.

Saturday will tell us. That's why it matters. Football is about Saturdays -- mostly, anyway -- and that's the case here.

We want to see it. Feel it. Touch it. Smell it. Nothing like football.

Sure, Saturday is just the start, the Trojans hope, of a long road going through the Pac-12 South, the Pac-12 title game and beyond. But you can't get there without Game 1. And Game 1 is Saturday.

Which is why football, with all its fun and feeling, matters. Because every game matters.

All that prep work the last eight months -- more like nine for Sark -- matters for real now.

USC-Fresno State matters for more reasons than we can list here. Each of us can have our own, whether it's the uptempo on both sides of the ball or the young guys or the old guys, Adoree and JuJu or Cody and Buck. Pick your player.

Watch the O-line or the D-line. Or both. Sure, we worry about one's depth and the other's youth. But tomorrow is not for worrying, tomorrow is for watching and wondering where this all goes.

You only open once a year. Have fun with it. Take it all in. Dream about what could be.

And hope your Trojans are doing the same.

And that all that matters is tomorrow's game, not about who said what earlier in the week. Or who's not here.

Because if there's one thing you learn about this game, it's this: The only thing that matters tomorrow is who shows up to play -- tomorrow. It's not about anything else.

Enjoy it. We will.

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