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O/NSO: Notre Dame ticket surprise edition

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC

The Obvious: One of the toughest game tickets to come by at a reasonable cost is when the Trojans travel back to the Midwest to play Notre Dame in South Bend.

The Not So Obvious: Normally, many Trojans fans are faced with obtaining tickets from ticket agencies or scalpers for around $300 – give or take. Well, to the shock and surprise of most season ticket holders, on Thursday at 10 o’clock the Trojans Athletic Department made available a limited number of first-come first-serve USC/ND game tickets (two per customer and no repeat customers) at the base price of $125. You talk about the holiday season coming early…

The Obvious: For most USC fans,the Notre Dame Weekender is normally a four-day event that bases itself in downtown Chicago.

The Not So Obvious: For most fans, the hardest aspect of pre-planning a ND Weekender is a game ticket. With Thursday’s surprise ticket announcement, which was actually pre-announced through a “heads-up” Tuesday email to season ticket holders, Trojans fans that perhaps originally weren’t planning on going back to the Midwest found themselves securing tickets and it was full steam ahead in getting airline tickets and hotel rooms.

The Obvious: The Trojans will play at Notre Dame on Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Not So Obvious: This season’s evening intersectional battle between USC/ND will mark the 10-year anniversary of the famous 2005 game, which is better known to Trojans and Irish fans as “The Bush Push.” Perhaps as great a game that has ever been played between the two storied programs, you can bet scalper prices for tickets will be through the roof if both teams come in highly ranked again and are still in the College Football Playoff hunt.

The Obvious: The base price ticket cost for an Arkansas State/USC game ticket is $60.

The Not So Obvious: StubHub has Arkansas State/USC game tickets for $34.12. Of course you’re seated high up in the closed end of the Coliseum in Tunnel 15, which is behind the end zone. However, it’s not really a bad seat for little more than half the cost of the base ticket price. The O/NSO wouldn’t be shocked if ticket prices get as low as $20 by game time. Okay, maybe even $10 for such a late night kickoff.

The Obvious: The Trojans offense has shown some individual surprises through the early going of training camp.

The Not So Obvious: In the opinion of the O/NSO, the biggest surprise offensively in training camp has been the play of true freshman quarterback Sam Darnold, who is playing at times like a seasoned veteran. Naturally in the film room, Darnold is being taken to task on where he needs to improve, but in terms of what we see, San Clemente Sam has a bright future if he can be patient.

The Obvious: The Trojans defense has shown some individual surprises in the early going of training camp.

The Not So Obvious: Perhaps of the biggest surprises thus far has been the revelation that senior tackle Cody Temple has run at times with the first unit. Senior Claude Pelon, who was a starter for much of 2014, apparently got the message to play better and harder and returned late this week to the first unit. It’s possible that Temple and Pelon could split time throughout the season or until one of the gifted freshmen steps up into the rotation.

The Obvious: It seemed like only a matter of time until Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian would finally announce that super sophomore Adoree’ Jackson would be the Trojans punt returner.

The Not So Obvious: Although it was not a shocking revelation, Jackson will be one very busy football player in the fall and will be one very big nightmare for opposing coaching staffs who will try to limit Adoree’s potential damage on offense, defense, and special teams. You talk about a three-headed monster, about the only thing Jackson isn’t doing is selling Kettle Corn at the Coliseum, and please don’t give Sark any ideas.

The Obvious: Sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster says he wants to be better than Robert Woods, Marqise Lee, and Nelson Agholor.

The Not So Obvious: Apparently motivated to prove his point, JuJu is now sporting a new, short haircut with just his natural hair color and no dye. Hey, the kid means business.

The Obvious: The Trojans are looking for some home run hitters at tailback.

The Not So Obvious: Well, they certainly look like they have a couple in tailbacks Ronald Jones ll and Dominic Davis, both with plenty of speed to burn. But once pads were worn on Wednesday evening, out stepped Aca’Cedric Ware who was now in his element by donning full battle gear. When it comes to running between the tackles, Ware, the Texas native, shows no fear and bleeds 4-to-5 yards per carry. Aca’Cedric wears the old Anthony Davis No. 28, and Ced’s style of running would certainly bring a smile to A.D.

The Obvious: Colin Cowherd is a former national ESPN radio host.

The Not So Obvious: Cowherd, who is rumored to be moving to FOX 1, never has shied away from his love of USC football. It was evident that despite changing jobs, he remains a friend of the Trojans and coach Steve Sarkisian. At Wednesday’s practice, Cowherd was on the team sideline opposite the media’s designated location wearing a USC hat and a USC shirt.

The Obvious: Quarterback Cody Kessler and DB/WR/KOR specialist Adoree’ Jackson are two of the most valuable players on the 2015 Trojans.

The Not So Obvious: So, it should as no surprise that their home cardinal jerseys with numbers (Kessler’s No. 6 and Jackson’s No. 2) are being advertised online for purchase by the Trojans Bookstore.

The Obvious: One of the biggest questions during training camp for observers would be how senior fullback Soma Vainuku is utilized in 2015.

The Not So Obvious: In somewhat of a surprise, Vainuku has seen a number of carries and has even shown some wiggle when approaching a defender. Whether his practice time at running the ball translates into games, only time will tell, but the O/NSO can tell you Soma has looked mighty good if not punishing transporting the rock. But then again, you’ve probably heard it all before.

The Obvious: Phil Steele is the respected publisher for Phil Steele’s College Football Preview Magazine.

The Not So Obvious: Phil is on the Trojans bandwagon, too, as he has placed the Cardinal and Gold as his preseason No. 3 team in the country behind Ohio State and TCU. After reviewing challenging issues as past low roster numbers and saying the Trojans in 2015 have the second toughest schedule in the country, Steele concludes by writingThey are the best team in the Pac-12 with the most veteran QB Cody Kessler, however, and I see them making the playoff this season.”

The Obvious: To no one’s surprise, one of the early standouts in training camp has been junior All-Pac-12 linebacker Su’a Cravens.

The Not So Obvious: Regarding the ability of Cravens, Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian says, “Su’a is a guy who can create turnovers, he can make tackles in the backfield, he can blitz off the edge, he can cover well. I think he’s at his best when he’s around the ball.”

The Obvious: Former Trojans defensive back Nickell Robey has signed a two-year extension to play for the Buffalo Bills.

The Not So Obvious: What a story and what a story. The diminutive defensive back that played bigger, harder, and faster than his 5-8, 165-pound frame, is a gridiron love story. Having lost his mom before coming to USC, starting as a freshman, and eventually signing as a free agent with Buffalo, it all proves again that it’s not the size of the dog but the bite.

The Obvious: Former Trojans All-American great Frank Gifford (1949-51) passed away last weekend.

The Not So Obvious: While most remember Gifford – originally out of Bakersfield (Calif.) as a two-way star and as the longtime play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football – his playing days at USC should be a time for reflection. Giff did it all at Troy by playing on both sides of the ball and even placekicking. A member of both the Pro and College Football Hall of Fames, Frank’s national visibility was always a recruiting plus for the Trojans both during his football and then post-football career in broadcasting. He was, indeed, a sports icon till the end.

The Obvious: And finally, open public Trojans practices will conclude following next week’s announced schedule.

The Not So Obvious: Well, if you haven’t come down to campus yet to watch your favorite team, available practice dates left include this weekend (Saturday/2:30 p.m.), Sunday/2:30 p.m.), and next week (Mon./Aug. 17/6:45 p.m.; Weds./Aug. 19/9 a.m.; Thurs./Aug. 20/2:30 p.m.; Fri./Aug. 21/2:30 p.m.); and Sat./Aug 22/2:30 p.m.).

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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