O/NSO - Ticket Lottery edition

So, a Rose Bowl national championship game is set between the No. 1 Trojans and the No. 4 Wolverines, and now all the tickets have been distributed and some serious scalping could be in the offering. This is what happens when you align all the football stars for one glorious New Year's Day in Pasadena.

The Obvious – Tension was as tight as a Matt Leinart spiral. Ten cents a ton as legendary Trojan voice Tom Kelly would say. Sweaty palms time. Thousands of loyal Trojan fans gathered around their screens this weekend waiting for the long-awaited announcement. It began with Selection Friday, the day when die-hard USC fans would begin to find out if they were "winners" in the great USC Rose Bowl ticket lottery.

The Not So Obvious – "Dear 23blast…Congratulations. Your name has been chosen in the USA Bowl Ticket Lottery to purchase 2 tickets to the Rose Bowl. Your credit card has been or will be charged and your tickets will be sent Airborne Express on December 17. Thank you for your support of Trojan football." Whew and crank up Fanfare!

The Obvious – Thousands of "Rose Bowl Winner" email announcements are now being sent out to nervous Trojans fans, bringing the lucky ones a collective energy of exhilaration, relief, and a sense of Christmas present satisfaction to those lucky recipients.

The Not So Obvious – The last time a lottery was won in this neck of the woods, it was No. 111 in 1970, and it was good for a 50-yard line seat in Southeast Asia. That ticket was eventually scalped, thank goodness.

The Obvious – The fact that media and fans across the nation are calling this Rose Bowl a national championship game has brought an incredible sense of urgency to Trojan fans, most of who had beaten the December 9 ticket deadline.

The Not So Obvious - USC fans were carnivorous to find out if they had won the lottery. Credit card folks were inundated with calls asking if the USC ticket department had had shown activity on December 10 & 11. Depending on your credit card, USC fans were using their computers to check their credit activity online. MasterCard could only give fans statements up to December 9, the final day to submit a bowl application.

The Obvious – With a national championship now plainly at stake, thousands of Trojan fans feel a determination and a sense of bonding with this year's team that is almost a "calling" to be in Pasadena's most famous landmark on New Year's Day.

The Not So Obvious – We have not seen this type of excitement and intensity for a Trojan Rose Bowl ticket since the 1979 game, which produce an exciting victory over Michigan and a national championship. What goes around finally has, indeed, come around. Hooray for living longer!!!

The Obvious – Earlier in the week, Ticketmaster put some Rose Bowl tickets up for sell.

The Not So Obvious – For those Trojan fans that did not hear about this, trying to get through to Ticketmaster at 8:00 a.m. was as tough as trying to get around Trojan All-American left tackle Jacob Rogers, who did not give up a sack this regular season. Impossible.

The Obvious – While it appears that most Trojan applicants did receive their allotment of two tickets, there is enough evidence that some USC faithful did not make the cut and will not receive tickets through the conventional way.

The Not So Obvious – Hopefully, communication amongst fans on WeAreSC.com and other venues can provide those unlucky Trojan fans a reasonable opportunity to acquire tickets without spending a Bruin arm and an Irish leg.

The Obvious – A Rose Bowl ticket at cost is $125.00

The Not So Obvious – The WeAreSC.com board is getting requests from LSU fans for any Sugar Bowl tickets, which goes for $150.00.

The Obvious – One of the problems with the lottery was that Trojan season ticket holders could only purchase two tickets, thus many "blocks" of tickets could not be fulfilled.

The Not So Obvious – If there was any questions that Trojan fans would like to turn the Rose Bowl into a "Wisconsin" sea of cardinal and gold, all you had to do was check all the message boards from Trojans fans who had won the lottery wanting to purchase more. One Trojan group of six had to resort to rock, paper, and scissors to decide who would get the two valued ducats. Talk about having to go through a "double" lottery.

The Obvious – The media in the Midwest is proclaiming this Rose Bowl as a return to traditional glory for Pasadena's hallowed institution.

The Not So Obvious – The Detroit Free-Press said, "For Michigan, this Rose Bowl is the next-best thing to playing for the national title. The Trojans are playing as well as any team in the country and the game will feel like a Rose Bowl is supposed to feel."

The Obvious – Thanks to the Trojans' nationally televised game against Oregon State, the Michigan Wolverines had a chance to watch the nation's number one team in action.

The Not So Obvious – Michigan center Dave Pearson informed, "I watched them (USC) over the weekend. They have a great team. You always want to play the best so you can see where you rate against the best."

The Obvious – Michigan's defensive players have been taking a long, hard look at the Trojans and have been impressed with USC's prolific offense.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans have the respect of senior Michigan defensive tackle Grant Bowman, who said, "It's going to be tough, 42 points a game average over the course of a season is amazing. That shows they're an amazing and talented team."

The Obvious – It didn't take long for Michigan coach Lloyd Carr to proclaim the Trojans No. 1 in the country and convince his players that this was a national title game.

The Not So Obvious – Michigan's heralded quarterback John Navarre left no doubt about his team's prospective on the game and the Trojans. Navarre commented, "They're No. 1 in both polls, and we're going to treat it as a championship game, a chance to go out and show the country that Michigan is for real."

The Obvious – For many Wolverines, they see this as the ultimate challenge for their season, and the Trojans can expect a major war against UM.

The Not So Obvious – Defensive tackle Grant Bowman added, " When you go out there (Pasadena) and play in a big game, you want to play the best team you can and obviously everybody think they're the best team in the country."

The Obvious – Michigan players see this game as a home game for the Trojans and expect the crowd to be pro-USC.

The Not So Obvious –. UM tight end Andy Mignery put it in a Michigan prospective about playing the Trojans in their own backyard. He said, "Without a doubt. That's like us playing in Detroit. Can you imagine? We're going to the Rose Bowl in Detroit and playing before our fans."

The Obvious – It will be very interesting to see how the Trojans handle their new No. 1 status. They are now the hunted instead of the hunter. Don't think that Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and his players will hesitate to call themselves No. 1 should they defeat the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – Star Wolverine receiver Braylon Edwards said, " We can play with anybody in the country. The way we've played in the five or six games? You saw it. We're a team in unison right now, a very tight-knit group."

The Obvious – Trojan line recruit Jeff Byers from Colorado was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year, the first offensive lineman to earn the prestigious honor.

The Not So Obvious – It a year ago that the Trojans just missed out on last year's Gatorade winner Kyle Wright, the highly-touted California quarterback who selected Miami. Received a call from a respected area coach, who upon seeing some of Byers' stats, couldn't believe the Loveland product managed 203 tackles. The coach said, "Are you kidding me? I don't care if this kid is playing against CIF Division X That's an incredible amount of tackles!"

The Obvious – Lost in last weekend's big victory over Oregon State was a superior atmosphere of pre and post-game parties.

The Not So Obvious – Prior to the game, the Trojans' Football Alumni Club (TFAC) had their tailgater in full swing. Organized by Rex Johnston, a large number of Trojan gridders spanning the generations were in attendance. Perhaps you remember the likes of Upland Chaffey's Carl Skvarna, La Mirada's Kelly Thomas, Long Beach Poly's Charles Ussery, Bakersfield's Lynn Reade, and Saratoga's Otis Page. Did we mention Anthony Munoz and Sam "Bam" Cunningham?

The Obvious – There were over 30,000 commemorative cards of Trojans' late legendary tailback Ricky Bell handed out before the game.

The Not So Obvious – The most moving moment of the Oregon State game came at halftime when Bell, who was just elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, was honored through his son and grandson. It was very touching to the "little" Bell take the football and run to the closed end of the Coliseum with a tiny football under his arm as the 73,000 cheered him on to the end zone. He displayed some of his grandpa's power and moves, a rue Trojan tailback in the making.

The Obvious – Many Trojan fans are still talking about USC All-American receiver Mike Williams' "Oh My God!" one-handed catch in the end zone against Oregon State.

The Not So Obvious – Williams's grab reminded some of great Trojan receptions in the past like Sam Dickerson's 1969 last-minute catch against UCLA. Willie Brown's leaping grab in 1962 against the Bruins. Eric Affholter's 1987 killer afternoon against the boys from Westwood. My, oh, my, those Bruins seem to bring out the best in cardinal and gold receivers.

The Obvious – The Trojans were officially announced as Rose Bowl participants on national television last Sunday.

The Not So Obvious – As Jim Healy would say, "Who goofed?" In Tuesday's Los Angeles Times, there was a sizeable Sugar Bowl tour ad promoting the Trojans' trip to The Big Easy.

The Obvious – In the Nov. 6 OC Register, there was an article about USC receiver Mike Williams and his thoughts about going to the NFL early.

The Not So Obvious – In the article, sophomore Williams said, "If Coach Chow or Coach Carroll sit me down and say, ‘Mike, you're a guaranteed top-five pick,' that's probably the only thing that might get me to do it." With Pitt's sophomore Larry Fitzgerald winning the Beletnikoff Award and Mike enjoying his USC stay, it appears the Florida native is a lock to return and continue his assault on the Trojan record book.

The Obvious – Before every Trojan home game, 1540 does a live pre-game show from the peristyle end of the Coliseum with Mark Willard and former Pasadena CC and UNLV coach Harvey Hyde.

The Not So Obvious – Hyde has a striking resemblance to Las Vegas and television comedian Jamie Farr.

The Obvious – Before every Trojan home game, the Trojan bookstore has an outdoor souvenir stand selling all sorts of USC apparel and paraphernalia.

The Not So Obvious – Last Saturday's game against Oregon State produced a heavy crop of fans to the "store" and for the first time in memory, metal fences had to be placed around the tables and racks for security purposes.

The Obvious – The Trojans appear to be in a world of hurt at tight end with the Oregon State injury to tight end Greg Guenther, who is expected to return after a couple of weeks to heal.

The Not So Obvious – Can't recall a Trojan season in the past forty-years that injuries have so devastated the tight end position. Alex Holmes, Dom Byrd, and now Guenther. The most amazing feat is the Trojan offense continues to put up staggering numbers. However, the run game could suffer noticeably against the Wolverines. The continued development of Kurt Katnik and the continued conversion of former quarterback Matt Cassel now become paramount.

The Obvious – It was another stirring senior salute prior to the Trojans' last home game as Troy recognized all their graduating seniors, who ran out of the Coliseum tunnel and through a football alumni spirit tunnel.

The Not So Obvious – Biggest Coliseum cheers for were saved for wide receiver Keary Colbert and tackle Jacob Rogers. It was also very exciting for many of the walk-ons that had their final moment in the sun.

The Obvious – Trojans' defensive end Kenechi Udeze was selected first-team Sporting News All-American.

The Not So Obvious – In the Sporting News pre-season magazine, Udeze was selected second-team.

The Obvious – Fullback Brandon Hancock has returned from injury and is expected to play against Michigan.

The Not So Obvious – While the tight end situation is shaky, the return of fullback Hancock is a major plus for Norm Chow's offense. Michigan, having to worry about both Reggie Bush and Brandon Hancock coming out of the backfield on pass routes, should provide the maize and blue coaches with a new bottle of Advil.

The Obvious – While the Trojans do not have anymore home games to showcase for visiting recruits, they do have the No. 1 billboard that should do just fine this important recruiting weekend.

The Not So Obvious – With Ohio's Ted Ginn and Florida's Keith Rivers visiting this weekend, the prep's No. 1 defensive back and No. 1 linebacker should be receiving the full hospitality of the nation's No.1 team at the right time. It is rumored that Ginn, who many say is a heavy Ohio State lean, was coming with both parents, a sign of some serious Trojan consideration.

The Obvious – The Trojans will play in the BCA Classic in August against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

The Not So Obvious – It won't hurt the Trojans' chances of victory back on the East Coast knowing that coach Frank Beamer's star tailback, Kevin Jones, is entering the NFL draft after this season. Of course there is quarterback Marcus Vick, brother of Michael, who many feel is more talented than his NFL brother.

The Obvious – So, a Rose Bowl national championship game is set between the No. 1 Trojans and the No. 4 Wolverines, and now all the tickets have been distributed and some serious scalping could be in the offering. This is what happens when you align all the football stars for one glorious New Year's Day in Pasadena.

The Not So Obvious – As former Michigan quarterback Tom Slade said, "These are classic schools. Everybody knows their fight songs, and everybody knows what their uniforms look like. That goes to the old tradition and that is huge. Their style of play against ours fits the old mold of the Pac-10 and the Big Ten, though we pass better than we used to. It's outstanding." For traditionalists, it's also as good as it gets.

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