The Trojans will practice on Monday and Tuesday before taking two days off for the Christmas holiday. The team will re-group on Friday and begin their normal game week preparations as if it was a Sunday practice. They will stay at the hotel in Century City but will continue practices at Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy Fields on the USC campus to help keep a familiar tone to the workouts. The game week schedule will be a hectic one with side trips to Disneyland, a Lakers game, Lawry's steak house and the Jay Leno show. In addition, they will also get a screening of the movie "Paycheck". On top of that the media demands will increase as the focus of the nation turns to Pasadena and the Trojan quest to end the season at the top of the polls no matter what might happen a few days later with the BCS.
It's always interesting to see how different coaches handle the preparations for bowl games because the schedule is unlike anything the team faces throughout the season. A usually bustling USC campus is basically empty right now as the Trojans go about their business and it will be up to Carroll to keep them focused as much as possible. Two years ago we saw a lackluster performance in the bowl against Utah while last season the Trojans came out on fire against Iowa and never let up until the final gun sounded. It will be up to the seniors on this team to make sure a similar effort is extended this season.
So far the practices have been very intense with a high level of intensity and execution. It's as if this team doesn't get rattled by all that is going on with the BCS and they are simply content to go out and play football and let the chips fall where they may. That certainly seems to be the attitude of most Trojan fans. While others spend their time asking if USC feels slighted by the computer polls or if we somehow feel left out the answer is a surprising no. When you're number one in both polls that kind of speaks for itself. Now comes the time for the Trojans to go out and back up that ranking and they will have to do it by beating a very good Michigan team. Over the next two weeks we will look at various elements of that match-up as we get closer to the 2004 Rose Bowl.