The Not So Obvious – As promised, the O/NSO has taken to the road with your Cardinal and Gold darlings, beginning with this past weekend's game in Fayetteville. There's nothing like football in the South, except, of course, for those Saturdays in Exposition Park. So grab a slice of your favorite dessert, a beverage of choice, and maybe some leftover ribs in honor of the Trojans victory over the Hogs as the O/NSO details our three days in the Land of the Ozarks.
Friday, Sept. 1
5:50 a.m. – Eyes open and begin staring at my USC bedroom wall that displays a Trojan mini helmet, a stuffed Traveler, a Danbury Mint model of the Coliseum, two Sports Illustrated books commemorating the Trojans national champions of 2003 and 2004, and a signed copy of Gary Klein's and David Wharton's well-received book, Conquest: Pete Carroll and the Trojans' Climb to the Top of the College Football Mountain. I am ready, I am ready, I am ready, let's fly!
6:10 – Mind starts swirling with thoughts of Arkansas, Calling of the Hogs, and airport security searches. Throw in some television remembrance from the last time the Trojans traveled to Arkansas with Anthony Davis and we are getting on our journalistic game face on. Of course, it was not long after the O/NSO had graduated high school and, boy, has time flown, so help me Frank Broyles.
6:40 – Will pack just a duffle bag. Throw in some shorts, WeAreSC clothing, and don't worry about a jacket. Bigger issue was staying up late last night to get in our O/NSO – Arkansas Preview, which had possible computer posting problems. But our readers come first, so we stayed up till 12:50 a.m. to get it done. As precise as Dwayne Jarrett post pattern, we eat our normal oat bran, cinnamon bread, and cup of water for breakfast. I know, how bland, but there are never any repercussions.
7:20 – Depart for John Wayne Aiport. Woah, security line outside and inside is almost as short as Arkansas' 5-9 star middle linebacker Sam Olajubutu. What a relief!!! Two weeks ago when we took the family to Disney World on the day of the London terrorist threat, the line looked like three football fields long.
7:30 – A number of Trojan fans milling in the airport. We meet an SC fan, Bob Bettwy, a controller for SRS Technologies. He just joined Cardinal and Gold and informed me he will be the new track announcer for Ron Allice's track team next season. Tells me last season he paid $450 for a ticket to get into the Notre Dame game in South Bend. He's meeting friends in Little Rock and then driving to the Saturday night's game.
9:26 – American Airlines attendant announces that our flight has been delayed because a third flight attendant hasn't arrived at John Wayne. Later we are told the attendant is driving from LAX. We are told the plane cannot take off unless there are three flight attendants. Hope the Trojans don't have these same substitution problems on Saturday. Does this ever happen on the team charter?
10:10 – Still waiting for that third attendant. Call my Fayetteville roommate, Doug, who is already in Arkansas and is suppose to pick me up at 5:30 p.m. Run into Nick and Maddy Sanchez, parents of Trojan quarterback Mark, who are on a later flight to Fayetteville. We are told by American that we won't make our Dallas to Fayetteville connection flight, and the Sanchez duo suggest the O/NSO get on their American Eagle connection. Okay, done deal. While still waiting to board, we are introduced to the parents of freshman quarterback-safety Garrett Green, who are from the San Fernando Valley, but they had late reservations to the game after learning Garrett was on the Trojans' traveling squad. The Green's say they had to make their reservations in Boston after having dropped off their daughter, who is a freshman at Boston University. They are pumped up about Garrett and didn't mind having to drive to Orange County to get to Fayetteville.
10:30 – Finally board flight to Dallas and we see first person dressed in Arkansas gear amongst cardinal and gold fans. They look like a pair of tennis shoes in a closet full of spats. We are seated next to John and Kathy Brittingham, parents of Trojan fullback Mike Brittingham. For the next three hours, we discuss Mike's travels from Trojan walk-on to Trojan football scholarship recipient. Daddy John was a star fullback at Newport Harbor in 1968 while Kathy is a 1969 grad of Corona Del Mar. We talk everything from Trojan football to life growing up in the 1960's. We even talk about where we where on the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Kathy actually holds a printed roster of the 2006 Trojans while we talk. She says that grandpa is on the trip and is so proud of Mike being on the team. It's like a dream come true for the entire family.
4:00 p.m. – Arrive at Gate B-16 in Dallas and take the wonderful SkyTrain to the next terminal for our American Eagle flight to Fayetteville. You guessed it, the flight gets postponed twice and rather than arriving in Fayetteville at 5:30, we are told we will be arriving at 7:30. Nick and Maddy Sanchez haven't arrived at our gate and the O/NSO begins to wonder what happened to their flight. I reluctantly get fast food from McDonalds,but you gotta eat, right? More Trojan fans make their way to our area, but some young Arkansas fans turn to me and start talking smack about what the Razorbacks are going to do to Pete Carroll's Trojans. Guy wearing a Thunderingherd shirt looks like he is going to join the conversation but doesn't. The three guys then back off and talk LSU football and why it's no fun to play there because their fans are so obnoxious. We've heard this before from Trojan fans who made the trip to Baton Rouge many years ago.
4: 46 – Flight attendant says she will offer a $200 voucher if two people will take a later American Eagle flight to Fayetteville. Believe me, I start to think about it, but I just want to get out of Dallas and get to the Promised Land. Call buddy Doug about the next delay. He says he is at the Trojan walk-thru on the field at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium. Pete Carroll is taking pictures with fans. Wow, how unlike Pete (lol).
5:11 – Nick and Maddy Sanchez show up and they have that "disaster" look on their faces. Apparently their flight was delayed at John Wayne for an hour and a half because the air conditioning unit wasn't working and they couldn't take off until it was fixed and inspected. They thought they had missed our American Eagle flight to Fayetteville. Oh, what a day so far. As Tom Kelly would say on those old SC broadcasts, "Oh, mercy nurse!"
5:42 – Finally board our American Eagle plane and it's cigar size. Wow, it feels like an astronaut on the first flight to the moon. Finally this "pencil" takes off and a fan turns back to me and says, " It's been eight long months, man, eight long months." I agree it's good to have Trojan football back. The same fan gets into a big discussion with a very knowledgable Razorback fan and they cover everything from the weather to the stadium to the best places to get a brew. The UA fan says be careful of Razorback fans that like to argue with the visiting fans. He says that as long as they are talking, don't worry, but if they just stare at you with a glazed look, better walk out before the fight starts. Flight is very bumpy and lasts about 52 minutes. We are told we are flying at 29,000 feet. You know that comes out to about 290,000 toes, but who's counting? As we approach Northwest Arkansas Airport, the terrain is a beautiful tapestry of green hills, trees, farmland, and lakes. Don't know about the weather, but it is a very pretty area. Reminds me of the Carolinas.
7:20 – Finally arrive at the airport in the middle of nowhere. Buddy Doug is waiting and has already checked out all the sites. Guess what? My luggage is missing. You've go to be kidding! Finally it is found as the airport is practically empty of humans. It is resting in a luggage area behind an American Airlines check-in counter. FYI, walking down the ramp from the plane, Arkansas fans start the "Calling of the Hogs." One Trojan fan is so impressed, he joins in.
7:45 – No stopping the O/NSO as we get in Doug's rental and head for the stadium and Dickson St., the "Sunset Blvd" of Fayetteville. Doug tells me he was pulled over by a Springdale cop for going 31 miles per hour in a 25 zone. Doug thinks that he is getting a ticket when he sees the cop is writing. Turns out the cop gives Doug a fake ticket that is a warning and writes that he is officially now converted into a Razorback fan. We both shake our heads and laugh. As we drive through the back roads, it's cows, cows, and more cows. I think any moment we will see Andy of Mayberry. Where's Goober? We drive by Healing Springs and Cave Springs.
8:05 – Pass by John Brown University. You know, this is like being in the Ozarks. Oh, we ARE in the Ozarks. More trees, trees, and more trees. Very pretty. Hills, hills, and more hills. Pass by a huge flag of the United States. Hey, there is a Waffle House restaurant. Pass by Suds Car Wash. Hooooowdy.
8:20 – Arrive at Arkansas campus and can't believe how hilly it it. The stadium rests on top of a hill. Students have formed a Tent City to get the best seats in the house for Saturday's opener. This campus is really special and it's night time. Suddenly they turn on the lights in the stadium and we get a chance to look inside from one of the hills, and it really rocks. This is going to be really cool. Even the trash cans around the stadium say "Woooooooo Pg Sooie. It seems like everywhere there is a statue or picture of a razorback. With lights on at the stadium, it looks like the end of the movie Field of Dreams when the lights are on and the cars are coming to the ball field.
8:50 – Head over to Dickson St. where it all happens. Place is on fire with fans and cruising is the order of the evening. Trojan fans get booed everywhere but mostly in a fun way. There are, however, not-nice fans. Cars and trucks are painted with UA colors and, or course, Razorback logos. I feel like it's 1968 and it's the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.
10:00 – Doug and I eat at a place called the Hog Hauss. A guy sits next to me, who says his name is Mike Cherry, claims he played for the New York Giants and had Arkansas coach Houston Nutt when Nutt was coach at Murray St. This guy is totally drunk and obnoxious. He says the Razorbacks are "going to break the Trojans like chicken necks in chicken broth." He is with his buddies that try to monitor his behavior. I have never heard of him in the NFL, but the guy must be 6-5, 240, so I am not getting into it. I take the high road and tell him I will be shocked if the Trojans win (wink, wink). He says all the Trojans do is run, run, run. Obviously he hasn't been watching Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart lately. Finally this fella splits and everything is cool. Doug and I walk some of Dickson St. and decide to turn in. By the way, the food at Hog Hauss sucked.
11:00 – Head by to our Springdale Fairfield Inn. It's a nice room and we are joined by our Garry P., who does some posting work for our loyal subscribers. We talk some Trojan football and Garry tells us Pete Carroll took a private plane to Little Rock to watch Trojan verbal Broderick Green play tonight. Well, that's our Pete. Friday afternoon walk-thru at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium and Friday night in Little Rock to make sure that Broderick knows the Trojans still love him. BTW, this kid is a major stud. We saw him at the Coliseum last spring when he gave a verbal. Very physical.
Saturday – Sept. 2
9:00 a.m.– It's 2006 game day, baby! Doug has already gotten up and gone down stairs and says that the Fairfield has a free, cool breakfast bar.
10:00 -After a quick shave and a check of the local papers, I head down and find Doug's breakfast evaluation as accurate as a Matt Leinart pass. The O/NSO gives thumbs up to make-your-own waffles. We take some pre-made bottled mix and pour it in a grill that does automatic timing. The waffles turn out great. Not to sound like a glutton, but we added a bowl of Raisin Brand and plenty of fruit. Ah fruit, an older person's best friend. Throw in a slice of toasted wheat bread while we at it. While eating, we read a quote from Razorback defensive coordinator Reggie Herring that he will hang himself if his team gives up 71 points at home. So if the Trojans score 40, does he ask for Thailand flogging?
11:00 – Run into the unofficial general manager of the Trojans, Bruce Bagni and his son, Vince. We talk Trojan football, even though Bruce and Vince have plans on doing some sightseeing. Love talking football with the Bagni boys and we talk everything from tonight's game to recruiting. Bruce tells me he once taught law at LSU. He says the fans at LSU are basically out of control. Bruce predicts Trojans will win 31-10. Hope he is on the money. Am I going to argue with a retired Washington D.C. federal prosecutor?
12:35 p.m. – Lou Holtz, that renowned Trojan supporter, says on ESPN that "I am anxious to see C.J. Gable because he is a freshman. Nobody scores 70 points on Arkansas and comes into Fayetteville and beats them." Oh that Lou, he has never been the same since that final overtime loss to the Trojans in his last season with the Irish.
1:15 – Taking advice from the locals, we leave extra early to the Arkansas campus to avoid a traffic disaster. Weather is great with really very little humidity. As long as the sun hides behind the clouds, it's Hog heaven. We dabate if we should take the freeway or back roads. We decide the freeway so as not to screw up. Traffic is not bad and it seems most cars have some sort of Razorback painting, decal, or flags. This area is so beautiful and relaxing to be truthful. We pass an overpass and a giant hog is painted on it. We get off the freeway and head for 6th street. Finally we pass a couple that has USC flags flying and the driver is wearing a No. 5 home Trojan jersey. BTW, gas is $2.93 for regular.
1:39 – Parking is just $10 at a car wash across the street from the entrance to campus. The tailgating is unreal. It is absolutely amazing. There is plenty of action going on with live country west singers and barbeques going full throttle. Tents, chairs, napkins, it's all Razorback impressive. Everything is red and white with logos. There is a giant inflatable hog on the grass. Some USC fans are conversing with Razorback fans. You get the impression that Razorback fans have a false sense of confidence while Trojan fans are anxious over what kind of team they have. Guy drives by the main road wearing a Bill Clinton mask. Hey, it's where the former President used to teach, what did you expect?
1:50 – Walk in "The Garden", a spot for tailgating in the middle of a park area. There is a large statue of a hog. It looks like the golden calf from the movie The Ten Commandments. A band is setting up on stage. We come across a stone tablet that was a gift from Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones. A black car nearby has a giant hog resting on the roof.
2:10 – We visit the Bud Walton Arena, home of Razorback basketball. It is an impressive arena. Seats are very comfortable and red in color. This arena has two levels. Walking into Bud Walton Arena should get every Trojan fan exited over the opening of the Galen Events Center. Downstairs there is an athletic museum that recognizes basketball and track. Next to it is an outstanding souvenir store called Hog Heaven. Anything that pertains to UA clothing, gifts, and mementos is here. The O/NSO is told that where we are sitting for the game, it's a metal bench and we don't have a cushion. Rather than carry a cushion around, we're told you can buy one at the stadium. Cushions sell for $13 but comfort comes first when we're talkin' metal seats for four hours. Oh, the Bud Walton Arena does have suites like the Galen Events Center.
2:42 – Begin our accent up "the hill" to the stadium and walk past just beautiful Southern fraternity houses. We walk into Sigma Alpha Epsilon and is it impressive inside. The guys are very friendly and the rooms look like something out the Great Gatsby. We sit down and watch some football on a 60-inch screen. There is something about watching 79-year-old Joe Paterno on the big screen that just oozes college football. Penn State is playing mighty Akron. What the hell are they playing Akron for? They are Penn State, for goodness sakes. A major highlight of the fraternity is that it's air-conditioned. Where do I join?
3:10 – Walk by the Lamba Chi Alpha house and giant speakers are blaring out Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." Next up comes the 60's group Them with Van Morrison. Can't believe I am hearing "Here Comes the Night" followed by "Gloria." Am I in a time warp? Very cool, none the less. These fraternity houses look like mansions in San Marino. All the while the music is playing, guys and girls are playing croquette on the front hill.
3:12 – Students are line up for what looks like 300 yards to get into Donald W. Reynolds Stadium. When Trojan fans walk by, they boo. It's kind of fun in a way as nobody seems threatening. We run into Gary Klein of the Times who is doing some "scouting" of his own. We notice that Klein is in a T-shirt and shorts and bag on him for being a solid rep of the Times. He good-naturedly laughs, but says he does have a change of clothes he will wear when he heads up to the press box. I tell Gary that I am in full WeAreSC.com official dress, as I am wearing the company white collared shirt with our logo and WeAreSC hat. A big sign appears that says "Payback at the Hill." We are in full party atmosphere at this time. The place is crawling with fans, tradition, and anticipation.
3:55 – Doug heads to meet some friends, while I want to visit the Razorback football museum, which is attached to the stadium. We part ways and I head to the museum. Game programs are out and we purchase one for $5. The cover has UA star linebacker Sam Olajubutu, defensive back Randy Kelly, and running back Felix Jones. The program is 224 pages and includes a game "speed card" which gives instant information on rosters for both teams. I see the game official names and I don't see this as a Pac-10 crew. UA player mugs are in color, but there are no team player mugs for the Trojans. There are only a small number of individual photos and some statistics below the mugs.
4:12- Run into Trojan verbal Broderick Green, the powerful running back out of Little Rock Pulaski Academy. Green seems happy to see a columnist from WeAreSC. He has come up from Little Rock to see the Trojans. Broderick tells the O/NSO that he is 100% committed to the Trojans and don't believe all the Internet reports. He does, however, hesitate, when we mention that his brother plays for Arkansas, but he then says what's good for his brother doesn't mean it's good for him. Green is wearing a hand-painted No. 29 with his initials B.G. on the back. We get the impression that he is still a Trojan. A big win tonight would certainly help keep the recruiting wind blowing west.
4:27 – Tons of fans hanging in front of the Frank Broyles Center with two fingers in the air. They must be Trojan fans flashing the sign of Fight On. No, they are looking for tickets. A friendly Fayetteville cop informs me that ticket scalping is legal in Arkansas as long as you sell the ticket at face or below. Wow, what a deal!
4:40 – Walk into the Arkansas football museum and it is tremendous, very well done. There are pictures, exhibits, trophies, and all sorts of artifacts. The Razorbacks bring their recruits through and surely they are impressed. The Trojan athletic department would be wise to consider a football museum of this nature in or next to Heritage Hall once the Galen Center is opened. The crowning touch of the museum is that the backside of the building is a full-size glass window that looks into Donald W. Reynolds Stadium. It is awesome and we're being reserve with our description. We can now see they are letting students into the stadium and they are literally running to get a good seat.
5:15 – Rejoin Doug in front of the museum and it's time to head over to the "Trojan Walk," where the good guys will arrive in their police escorted busses. After walking down a steep ramp, we arrive at "Gate B" where the Trojans will arrive. We know we are at the right place when we see David Baker, father of left tackle Sam, and Scott Williams, father of right tackle Kyle, standing near a gated entrance.
6:02 – With the sounds of police sirens, the Trojan team busses arrive and the 2006 team continues the tradition of rocking the busses before they get off. A large number of Trojan fans are assembled and a large number of Razorback curiosity gawkers are mixed in. Coach Pete Carroll is first off the bus escorted by a state trooper and Pete looks all business. For that matter, the whole team has a very serious look to it. Haven't seen this look in a long time, not even for last year's Rose Bowl game against Texas. There are true, serious game faces on the boys and freshmen Stafon Johnson and Vidal Hazelton come out like their listening to their I-Pods, but they aren't wearing any. Both are strutting and bobbing like a heavyweight climbing into a ring.
6:12 – Nick Sanchez and Johnny Booty give each other a big hug as the fathers of both star quarterbacks know this is the new beginning for Trojan signal-callers. The two men look very genuine in their affection and support of the coming season.
6:39 – It's time to enter the stadium and we like to seat amongst the fans. Well, tonight we are also sitting amongst the angels as our seat is on the 10-yard line on the second to last row in the entire stadium. Does the Section 512, Row 17, ring a bell with any of you? It takes nine walking ramps to get to the top of the stadium and my vertigo is in full bloom. It feels as if we have passed a treadmill test. We decide to purchase a seating cushion and the same cushion that cost $13 earlier is $15 at the stadium. Who cares? We want comfort. Let us say this to you, good reader, we are so high up that we feel we can see the peristyle end of the Coliseum.
6:40 – Trojan special teams are working out below, but you can't take your eye off the biggest and best video board we have seen. It is spectacular. Color, graphics, highlights, it has it all. They even have an SEC program that shows highlights of games. Decide to go to refreshment stand. The pickens are slim as a hot dog goes for $4, nachos $3, and a Papa John's pizza goes for $5. They do have "combo" meal, but we won't bore you because it isn't worth mentioning. Down below, a bus load of Arkansas cheerleaders arrive and circle the field.
7:00 – So far, nobody in our section has seen any airplanes below (lol). A Trojan fan tells her husband, " Boy, we are really high up!" No kidding, Amelia Earhardt.
7:08 - After a nice video introduction by Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt, the Arkansas band enters the field. The balance of both teams enter the field and the UA fans start chanting "overrated." Naturally, the Trojan fans respond with will cheers. Pete Carroll walks down lines of his players shouting encouragement and he stops to chat with defensive end Jeff Schweiger.The public address announcer says that Felix Jones will start at tailback, basically telling us that star Darren McFadden is still questionable. Do you believe it? Dennis Slutak, Trojans Director of Football Operations, checks his watch to make sure the Trojans are on schedule for their warm-ups.
7:19 – Check Trojan broadcast booth and play-by-play voice Pete "How do you do? Arbogast. He is chatting with spotter Brian Kennedy, the LA billboard magnet who funded the Trojans' second practice field adjacent to Howard Jones Field. Sideline reporter John Jackson is in the booth but no sign of analyst Paul McDonald. Something wrong with Lefty?
7:24 – Freshman running back Stafon Johnson is openly animated with his teammates in a running backs' huddle in the end zone to our left. It appears he is applying a Dorsey High pep talk.
7:26 – Linebacker coach Ken Norton goes wild at his linebackers with swaying hands like a swimmer. Norton has his fingers taped up like he's playing. Old habits and superstitions never die.
7:29 – Entire Trojan team runs over to Trojan fan sections as 79 Trojan band members strike up the familiar tunes. Nose guard Sedrick Ellis raises his hands in a "I can't hear you" gesture to the Razorback fans as the Trojans return to their locker room. It gets the attention of the UA faithful. Rumor going around the Trojan fan section that Cal is losing to Tennessee 21-0. If true, this would be an embarrassment to the Pac-10.
7:32 – Arkansas band takes the field, fans start a synchronized clap to bring them on. Suddenly, the public address announcer says, "Common Razorback fans, let's call those hogs!" Here comes one of the most famous yells in America"Wooooooooooooooooooooooo Pig Sooie." It is truly impressive. You can't sense that the 2006 Trojan season is almost upon us.
7:39 – National Anthem is sung and a jet fly-by takes place. One fan says we are so high up he can see the faces of the pilots. Band then plays the Arkansas alma mater, something the Trojans do for their school after the game. We kind of like it before the game because it really brings out the tradition while the stands are still packed. Oh, BTW, Tenessee has now scored 35 points on Cal. Did somebody say Jeff Tedford? Never mind.
7:43 – Stadium recognizes former Razorback quarterback great Joe Ferguson, who is a member of the Razorbacks' All-Century team. Moments later there is a moment of silence for the late Paul Eells, the longtime voice of Razorback football. It could be said that Eells was to Razorback fans what Chick Hearn was to Lakers fans.
7:48 – Fans again Call the Hogs and Arkansas takes the field impressively through smoke, the mouth of giant Razorback, and through the band that has formed a giant letter "A." It's as impressive as advertised. To counter the move, Pete Carroll apparently has his team take the field at the exact same time. This place is now an official insane asylum.
7:54 – Trojans kickoff and the public address announcer says the kicker is transfer David Buehler when it's sophomore Troy Van Blarcom. After intense competition for the job, Van Blarcom comes through with a touchback. That's one good way to keep your job.
7:55 – Arkansas goes immediately into the shotgun and guess who is starting? Yep, tailback Darren McFadden, but the ball goes to Felix Jones who is hit by linebacker Dallas Sartz. Good to have thereliable and experienced Sartz getting the starting nod.
7:56 – Felix fumbles and Trojan linebacker Keith Rivers recovers. Something tells me, like watching Trojan practice, that we are going to see the "real" Keith Rivers this season.
7:57 – Freshman tailback C.J. Gable gets his first carry and gets greeted strongly by defensive tackle Marcus Harrison. Welcome to the big leagues, kid.
7:59 – Trojan Tailback Chauncey Washington makes his first appearance since 2003. CW makes an impressive cut for a Trojan first down. To hell with that hamstring; it's playing time.
8:00 – Trojans' right offensive tackle Kyle Williams is flagged for illegal formation. The senior has worked extremely hard and what a tough way to begin a season. Trojans reliable placekicker Mario Danelo is asked to convert a 35-yard field and the junior delievers. The Trojans move 28 yards on 9 plays after Jones'fumble. USC 3, UA 0.
8:03 – Trojan fans in Section 512 attempt the SoCal spellout. Well, it's the thought that counts.
8:05 – Troy Van Blarcom again nails a kick out of the end zone. That's how you keep a job. Somewhere Ryan Killeen is smiling. He knows all about kicker pressure.
8:07 – UA must punt and back deep is junior Desmond Reed. You already know the leg injury story, but what a sight to see. They said he might have lost his leg after so much damage and here he is standing in punt return formation. Naturally, a Razorback commits a closely guarding flag on Reed, and we all hold our breath that Desmond doesn't take a cheap shot.
8:15 – Trojans go for it on 4th and four, but John David Booty has his pass tipped at the line of scrimmage. Nothing we haven't seen in practice. Now that J.D. has gotten that one out of the way, he could catch fire.
8:32 – First quarter ends with the Trojans up 3-0. The first quarter of 2006 saw the appearance of Chauncey Washington and Desmond Reed. John David Booty, while obviously excited, showed poise and good team management. Linebacker Keith Rivers makes a number of outstanding plays, displaying his skills, especially in the 3-4 alignments. First quarter wasn't kind to tackle Kyle Williams, who was flagged for a number of illegal formations. It would appear that Williams may be the victim of a regional interpretation of formation alignment. You can bet the Trojans offensive line is well schooled and coach Pat Ruel will help Williams out. However, like basketball, you have to adjust to the officiating.
8:40 – Trojans called for defensive holding and referee Thomas Ritter refers to the Cardinal and Gold as "Southern Cal." Well, you now know they aren't a Pac-10 crew. The Pac-10 has been told not to call the Trojans Southern Cal. Somebody better give these guys the Trojans football media guide that specifically says not to refer to the Trojans in such terms.
8:42 – After another Felix Jones fumble recovered by DB Kevin Thomas, the Trojans drive down to the UA 3-yard line. The Trojans elect to bunch their receivers and the play fails. Although they have repeatedly practiced passing on the goal line, a number of Trojan fans in Section 512 are stunned that the ball isn't given to Powdrell up the gut or a sweep to Gable to punch it in.
8:43 – Apparently there is some sort of radio wave from Section 512 as the Trojans call a sweep to C.J. Gable who pulls around the right side and easily gets to the end zone. Now you just know that John McKay is smiling wide on that call. Danelo converts the PAT. Trojans 10, UA 0.
8:49 – Van Blarcom does it again. He nails a third straight touchback. Who says the new kicking tee will create more runbacks?
8:58 – The Trojans go 29 yards in 8 plays as Danelo again hits on a 38-yard field goal. Hey, we said in the O/NSO Arkansas Preview edition that Super Mario could make the difference. We said we wouldn't be shocked if he hit three in the game. Looks like we could be wrong; he might get more than three field goals at this rate. USC 13, UA 0
9:03 – UA quarterback Robert Johnson starts to heat up and hits big wide receiver Marcus Monk for a big first down and the Razorback fans go crazy. They are in a state of shock that Johnson actually completed a pass down field. Felix Jones gets loose for a big gain.
9:12 – Quarterback Johnson sweeps the right side beating Trojan linebacker Brian Cushing for a 1-yard score. The Hogs march 80 yards in 13 plays and look good doing it. Suddenly the Trojans' immoveable object defense looks very moveable. Ben Cleveland's 22-yard catch shows the Trojan secondary isn't perfect. UA PAT is good. Oh, the Trojans are flagged for 12 men on the field. That Pete Carroll, always looking for an advantage. USC 13, UA 7
9:15 – On UA kickoff return, fullback Ryan Powdrell and linebacker Thomas Williams go down with apparent injuries. Powdrell looks like a shoulder or rib and Williams looks like his brain might have been rattled. Both leave the field under their own power. With fullback Brandon Hancock out for the season, the loss of Powdrell could be devastating. Razorback are now in frenzy.
9:18 – Fullback Mike Brittingham replaces Powdrell and somewhere in Razorback Stadium, John and Kathy Brittingham are worked into their own frenzy. It sure looks like the coaches are rewarding the work of the senior.
9:26 – Senior Steve Smith makes a big 15-yard catch on first and 15. The Trojans are looking to score at the end of the half.
9:28 – With 0:05 left in the half, UA coach Houston Nutt tries some gamesmanship by calling three consecutive timeouts. Mario Danelo will attempt a career-long 44-yard attempt. The kick is up and it isgooooooood! Danelo breaks new ground and the Trojans end the half with a tough 16-7 lead. You don't think that bring a smile to Joe Danelo, the father of Mario who played a number of years in the NFL. Guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
9:35 – The UA athletic department recognizes their new Hall of Fame inductees. With night having fallen,our bout with vertigo has gone to the locker room. Whew!
9:48 – Another tribute to the late Paul Eells as the crowd yell out his signature "Touchdown Arkansas." Nice tribute by the band to spell out his name.
9:54 – Trojans receive second half kickoff and can't do anything with it. Buddy Doug reminds me that the point spread was 8 points. The bettors in Las Vegas are watching this one closely. Probably rooting for Mario Danelo at this point.
10:03 – The Trojans' Terrell Thomas, whom the Razorbacks have been throwing at, intercepts a Johnson pass intended for Marcus Monk. Trojans are in business. Suddenly the crowd gets mighty still.
10:06 - Jeff Byers is noticed at left guard in place of Drew Radovich. ESPN goes into a commercial that seems so long I think we need to shave again.
10:08 – Finally play is resumed and Booty throws a "Heisman" pass to Patrick Turner in the end zone, who is double covered. The 14-yard touchdown pass is a Mona Lisa and suddenly John David and Patrick Turner grab the nation's ESPN attention. That one probably looked really good on HD. Danelo's kick is good. USC 23, UA 7
10:10 – Van Blarcom's kickoff again goes into the, oh forget it. You know where it went. You can forget who will be kicking off against Nebraska in two week in the Coliseum.
10:14 – A medical emergency suddenly emerges two rows in front of us as an elderly Trojan fan apparently passes out and medics are called. They have to cut his shirt open with a scissors. This looks bad and the game looks insignificant. The fans in the area are very quiet. The man's eyes are now closed and there is a look of concern on everybody's face.
10:19 – The Trojans dodge a bullet as Steve Smith fumbles out of bounds. You know Smith will come back with a great play. The senior is a real competitor.
10:27 – The man in the stands is still down and they appear to be giving him some sort of medication through an IV.
10:29 – After an apparent great catch by Patrick Turner is under review, the man in the stands awakens and somehow is able to walk out giving the Fight On sign. Unbelievable and thank goodness. The man's recovery brings back the spirit and life into Section 512.
10:33 – The Trojans culminate an impressive 80-yard drive in 11 plays as Booty again places the ball into a winning position by hitting tight end Fred Davis, who uses his size (6-4) to mismatch over program cover boy Randy Kelly (6-0). No doubt about it, J.D. is completely at ease and so is the offense. It may not be the electricity of Bush and Leinart, but the Trojans' offense is bolding evolving into a brutally efficient unit. Danelo's PAT is good. USC 30, UA 7
10:40 – The third quarter ends with the Trojans up 30-7. The fans start to leave Razorback Stadium, but Trojan fans are ready to roar. One thing is becoming clear, this offense will be different than the past, but they have a chance to brand their style as workmanlike and team oriented. Receiver Patrick Turner is starting to catch balls he dropped last year. The defense, for our taste, is exciting like last year's offense. They are so fast and aggressive. We will see what happens when they face a "real" quarterback, but this group will get better as well.
10:43 – The Trojan players begin fourth quarter by turning to the stands and asking for support. Both lower and upper sections respond. Suddenly fans start chanting "We Are…SC." Well, thank you for the commercial for the website, everybody.
10:49 – Fullback Ryan Powdrell shows there is nothing wrong as he gets open and Booty hits him for a huge 44-yard gain. It is simply amazing how valuable Powdrell is becoming in the Trojans' offense. We saw it in the spring and in the summer. Don't be mislead, this senior is really good and good character.
10:50 – Powdrell is rewarded for his play with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Booty. The fans are happy with the touchdown but are completely dumbfounded by passing on the 1-yard line? Well, they do practice it, folks. Would we have run it in? You bet ya, but you can't argue with the result. Danelo's PAT is good (yawn). USC 37, UA 7
10:58 – After a Cary Harris interception, the Trojans offense brings out the hammer and marches 31 yards in three plays with freshman Emmaneul Moody knifing 9 yards through the heart of the Razorback defense. Moody is really learning when to use his moves and is really attacking the given hole. Danelo's kick is good.USC 44, UA 7.
11:03 – Just when you think that Razorback Stadium is turning into the Oklahoma Orange Bowl, the UA fans come to life with the appearance of freshman phenom quarterback, Mitch Mustain. All the kid does is take the offense by the horns and make the Trojans defense look like a JV team. Ouch.
11:06 – Mustain expertly executes a draw with Felix Jones for 24 yards and suddenly the Trojans have issues. Forget the score, this kid is a real quarterback, unlike Robert Johnson, who probably wouldn't start anywhere in the Pac-10 or maybe even as a back-up.
11:07 – With shades of Vince Young, Mustain runs it up the middle on a called QB option for a 4-yard score. Did we mention on the 80-yard drive that it took just 5 plays and that the kid also hit Damian Williams on a 42-yard pass play? It's rather obvious he knows the new system under offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who was his high school coach at nearby Springdale. Mustain is going to start for UA sooner rather than later if Houston Nutt wants to keep his job. Oh, the PAT is converted. USC 44, UA 14.
11:10 – Mark Sanchez comes in at quarterback for the Trojans. It appears that Mark has a new center. Yep, it's Pat Howell's boy, Nick. You can bet daddy is watching every snap. It's no secret the Trojans have had trouble snapping the football when Ryan Kalil is not in there. This is your audition kid, don't blow it.
11:14 – On a UA punt return, Trojan free safety Josh Pinkard is injured as he tries to get out of the way of the punt returner. This one looks bad, real bad. Pinkard is openly called by Pete Carroll one of his very best players. Let's not hold Section 511 responsible for this one. The O/NSO would like to know with a 30-point lead, why is Pinkard, one of the Trojans' most valuable contributors all evening, still in there? Maybe Josh should have backed off on the play, but inquiring minds do want to know why he was still in there.
11:19 – The prodigy Mitch Mustain brings the crowd back to reality when he throws a pick right into the waiting hands of Trojan linebacker Thomas "Hitman" Williams.
11:24 – Freshman Allen Bradford shows his style with a 1-yard score, capping a 26-yard drive in five plays. Freshman wide receiver Trevon Patterson sets it up with a nifty 20-yard reception and run on a fourth and 4 situation. Shhhhhh. Mario Danelo misses the extra point. USC 50, UA 14
11:29 - Game ends and Pete Carroll and Houston Nutt have the shortest handshake we have seen in a long time. Don't think Arkansas will be wanting to resume the series as long as Carroll is at the Trojans' helm. Carroll leads team to the band for the traditional "Conquest" salute. John David Booty is surrounded by media, so welcome to your new world, John David. Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said he would hang himself if the game tonight was like last year's at the Coliseum. Well, it wasn't as bad, so can we expect imprisionment?
Sunday – Sept. 3 12:30 a.m. – After visiting with the Trojans near their locker room, we head down "The Hill" and back to the car. Traffic is like getting out of the Rose Bowl. Can't seem to tune in a post-game radio show. Maybe UA cancelled it out of compassion.
1:00 – Get back to our Fairfield Inn and tune in ESPN College Post Game. We must have got in too late and don't see any highlights from tonight's game, but we watch SportsCenter and Lee Corso, who predicted an Arkansas win, says, "USC is good, wow." Lights get turned out at 1:50.
6:30 – Wake up call comes way too soon.
7:45 -Plenty of Trojan fans at the airport and they seem rather upbeat. I don't know why (lol). Of couple of knowledgeable fans come up to your humble columnist and ask why "we are passing at the 1-yard line?' and "why was Pinkard still in there?" Well, that's the way it works. Questions and more questions, smiles and frowns even in victory.
8:30 – Kathy Brittingham comes up to the O/NSO and there can't be a happier person in Arkansas this morning. She says son Mike learned he was now on the second unit on Friday after a coaches' meeting. We advised she start taping the games and she smiled. From walk-on to scholarship player to second unit fullback, that's what it's all about when you are a competitor.
12:30 p.m. – After an uneventful trip from Fayetteville to Dallas to Orange County, we finally touchdown at "home." It was a great trip all around and the potential of this year's team is very encouraging, but it's still long season. There are many reasons to be positive and we'll discuss those on Friday's O/NSO Bye Week 1 edition. Hey, I have to get home and write up this report on four hours of sleep. I told Garry I would get it in around 5:00, but it looks like 8:45, or 9:45 or 10:45. There is so much to tell.
The Obvious – In the O/NSO "On The Road Poll," the Southern hospitality, ambiance, and the beautiful campus of Arkansas has moved the Razorback experience into our Top 5.
The Not So Obvious –Now, if you'll kindly excuse the O/NSO, we need to begin future preparation for our next roadie to Tucson on Sept. 23 with a date with the thermometer and Pac-10 opener against those eager Arizona Wildcats. However, before we search for sunscreen and light clothing, there is a little business to take care of in the Coliseum in two weeks against that revitalized Big Red Machine from Lincoln, Nebraska. Of course, it will probably take two weeks to get the "Calling of the Hogs" out of our eardrums and get ready for "Go Big Red!" All we've got to say about that is "Wooooooooooooooo Pig, Sooie!"