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O/NSO: Missing Pasadena edition

The Obvious: The USC Trojans have been to the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California, more times than any team in the country.

The Not So Obvious: But it won’t be this Tuesday when the Pac-12 Champion and No. 9 Washington Huskies challenge the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes in the nation’s most hallowed college football venue. For the USC Trojans, they’re not only on the outside looking in, but they so far outside the bowl world that they are not going to any bowl game with a 5-7 season. However, be that as it may, the Rose Bowl brings more than just a game. For those who have never experienced the Rose Bowl gridiron event, and that’s what it is – an event – it never gets old for fans, media, and the nation.

The Obvious: The weather forecast for this Tuesday’s Rose Bowl Game is sunny with a high of 61 and low of 39.

The Not So Obvious: What has always been remarkable to the O/NSO is that we can’t remember a time when it was raining in Pasadena during the game and ruined the day’s festivities. Now back in the 1996 Rose Bowl Game, the Trojans were playing Cinderella Northwestern and it was an incredibly cold and windy on New Year’s Eve and morning, but once it got close to kick-off time, it became another typical picture-postcard day.

The Obvious: The power of the Rose Game remains above the fray of the new College Football Playoffs.

The Not So Obvious: On Saturday, the semi-finals game for the CFP will take place and four nationally recognized brand names – Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma – will have at, and it most certainly garner the attention of the nation. However, only the Rose Bowl Game could survive such a dramatic moment in college football and barely lose its plateau as the Granddaddy of Them All. Given the new playoff system, playing in the Rose Bowl is still not a consolation prize when a team is not part of the four-team CFL playoff. When the Trojans played Penn State in the Rose Bowl a few years back, Trojans fans were more than happy to be playing at their “home away from home.” The irony, of course, is the game between the Trojans and the Nittany Lions may have been the most exciting Rose Bowl in history – certainly in the conversation.

The Obvious: The setting of the Rose Bowl in the Arroyo Seco section of Pasadena is a jaw-dropping site when you descend into this world-famous venue.

The Not So Obvious: The O/NSO has been to many of the greatest venues in sports, but nothing surpasses the ambiance of the Rose Bowl. With a backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains, it is more than the topography. It’s a park setting inside of Brookside Golf Course, and the hills are full of lush greenery and expensive homes that overlook this majestic setting. As one that has gone as a fan since 1962 and as a media member for a good number of years, it just never gets old. And seeing the USC Song Girls in their Rose Bowl outfits is quite a sight as well.

The Obvious: One of the iconic symbols of the Rose Bowl is the overhead flight of the Good year blimp.

The Not So Obvious: There is just something about it when one drives off the 210 Freeway or of other entrance points, and you see that famous blimp overhead. Not that the blimp isn’t regularly seen at other Los Angeles sporting events, but it just looks different on New Year’s Day.

The Obvious: The Rose Bowl Game is preceded earlier in the day by the world-famous parade that generally starts around 8 a.m. when there is still chill in the air.

The Not So Obvious: If the Rose Bowl Parade isn’t of particular fan interest, we confess that we still get excited seeing the bands from the two competing teams marching down Colorado Boulevard. Of course, it’s always more exciting when the USC Trojans Marching Band struts down the famous stretch of street, and the O/NSO is always blown away how these young people can march that long parade route and then perform during the game. You take about endurance!

The Obvious: The climax of a Rose Bowl game is normally made even more dramatic in the fourth quarter.

The Not So Obvious: What makes the Rose Bowl more exciting in the final quarter is that play is usually conducted under the lights. The game starts in the daylight around 2 p.m. local time and finishes around 5 p.m. and not only becomes night, but the temperature drops to a chilly crescendo, making for quite a finale.

The Obvious: There are other bowl games played on the New Year’s Day, but the atmosphere at the Rose Bowl before, during, and after the game is unparalleled.

The Not So Obvious: Because the new year always brings hope of positive renewal, attending a Rose Bowl on the first day of the new year can tuck away one’s problems away for several hours, and fans from both teams are so happy to be there and so happy to celebrate together that there is nothing quite like it in America.

The Obvious: The O/NSO has had the honor and privilege of being on the field during the Trojans visits to the Rose Bowl beginning with the Pete Carroll era.

The Not So Obvious: Here’s something the O/NSO wishes we could share with all of you good readers. As good as the game is and the mix of emotions afterward, there’s nothing like when both teams come out of their separate tunnels for warmups, and you can just see the excitement and nerves in the eyes of each team’s participants. There’s such a history to the place that even if the game isn’t for national honors, it’s still the freaking Rose Bowl, and the players know it. When former Trojans’ celebrated quarterback Sam Darnold led his team onto the field in 2017 for warmups, the eyes of his teammates looked as large as saucers. And the sidelines are filled with celebrities and the grass is of the playing surface is as good as it gets, truly immaculate.

The Obvious: And finally, during the regular season, the Rose Bowl is the home of the UCLA Bruins.

The Not So Obvious: However, make no mistake about it, a regular season UCLA game at the Rose Bowl and an actual Rose Bowl game is like day and night. There are a lot of things that separate the Westwooders from an actual Rose Bowl Game. The first thing you notice once you walk into the famous venue is the 50-yard line and see that gigantic Rose. That alone visually alone tells you this is the real deal, but for Trojans fans, they can only hope that in the near future “the real deal” again becomes part of their post-season calendar. Yeah, a selection into the CFP would great, but there is nothing like being in Pasadena for a New Year’s game and it doesn’t have to be a College Football Playoff semi-final game to have meaning, so help me Colorado Blvd.

Greg Katz
Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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