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O/NSO: Ranking the 2018 home games edition

The Obvious: The 2018 USC Trojans will have six home games this season, which include UNLV, Washington State, Colorado, ASU, Cal, and Notre Dame.

The Not So Obvious: It figures that most season ticket holders will attend all the games because USC football home games are just as much about tailgating and partying as the football games themselves. For non-season ticket holders, there’s always taking each game for its face value and deciding to attend and fork out the cash. As an added sidebar to the 2018 home games will be the continued construction inside the Coliseum, which has already sent currents of controversary inside and outside the Trojan fan base. Aside from the Coliseum renovation, below is the O/NSO home schedule rankings of worst to first in terms of opponent and appeal.

Home Game Ranking: 6 – UNLV

The Obvious: The Trojans open the 2018 season on Saturday, Sept. 1, by hosting UNLV.

The Not So Obvious: The only social redeeming values of playing UNLV is that it’s the season opener, Trojan fans will be ready to party after a long off-season, and there will be the intrigue of whom will be the starting quarterback?

Projected Los Angeles weather forecast: The historical weather forecast for September 1 in L.A. is a high of 85 and a low of 64.

Comment: There could be an added sense of heightened excitement if true freshman J.T. Daniels shocks the world and starts after just four weeks of practice along with no college game experience. As a side note, playing UNLV would be a lot more fun if the game was being played in Las Vegas with no explanation needed.

Home Game Ranking: 5 – Washington State

The Obvious: The Trojans host Washington State on Friday night, Sept. 21.

The Not So Obvious: Many consider this game to be annually the trap game since Cougars’ head coach Mike Leach normally has his team ready to compete against the Men of Troy. The Cougars have won before in the Coliseum, and history has told us – like last season’s loss to the Cougs in Pullman – Washington State will come to play. Based on last season’s Trojans’ defeat, it would be shocking if not disappointing if the Men of Troy weren’t ready to play. Many believe that this will be the game that JT Daniels gets the start, which would probably mean the Trojans’ early season record is 1-2.

Projected Los Angeles weather forecast: The historical weather forecast for September 21 in L.A. is a high of 82 and a low of 63.

Comment: All right, let’s get to the point. It’s another &*%@* Friday night game and no matter how you slice it, it sucks. Come on, college football is meant to be played on a Saturday. If you have been to a Friday night game at the Coliseum, you don’t need to be told all the negatives of rush hour traffic and the rest. If this game was the season opener and played on Friday night, it would qualify as the worst home game of this season based on date and time.

Home Game Ranking: 4 – Colorado

The Obvious: The Trojans welcome Colorado on Saturday, Oct. 13.

The Not So Obvious: Well, the Colorado Buffaloes are still looking for their first win against the Trojans, but they do have the month of October in their favor. It seems the Trojans are still searching for answers before their big November run. Colorado has hung with the Trojans in the past but can’t get over the hump for four quarters. Too bad the Buffs can’t bring some of that beauty of Colorado with them into the Coliseum. As a wakeup call, this is a Pac-12 South contest and no underestimating its importance.

Projected Los Angeles weather forecast: The historical weather forecast for October 13 in L.A. is a high of 79 and a low of 59.

Comment: This being the sixth game of the season, we’ll have a pretty good idea of who the 2018 Trojans are. Some are predicting that going into this game the Trojans’ record will be 3-2, which means this game becomes even more important in terms of the division race and perception of where the program is headed.

Home Game Ranking: 3 – Cal

The Obvious: The Trojans host Cal on Saturday, Nov. 10

The Not So Obvious: This game got moved up the O/NSO rankings for no other good reason than it’s USC’s homecoming game. A lot of the fun and festivities will be decided before kickoff time, but a lot depends on the time of the kickoff. However, in terms of having a good time with the rival Bears, Cal’s “Los Angeles Weekender” could provide plenty of motivation. This game should be a war if you take into account the good showing Cal gave the Trojans last season up in Berkeley.

Projected Los Angeles weather forecast: The historical weather forecast for November 10 in L.A. is a high of 74 and a low of 53.

Comment: The game will mark the second appearance of former Trojans’ defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox battle with his former employer. It looks like Wilcox has the Golden Bears headed in the right direction, and you can bet that no win on Cal’s schedule, other than cross-bay rival Stanford, would give Wilcox and Bear fans the type of satisfaction they’ve yearned for against anybody wearing cardinal and gold.

Home Ranking: 2- Arizona State

The Obvious: The Trojans entertain Arizona State on Saturday, Oct. 27.

The Not So Obvious: So here comes new head coach Herm Edwards and his intriguing Sun Devils into Los Angeles. Some have looked at the hiring of Edwards as a joke, but some insiders say to beware that the opponents will become the punchline if teams aren’t ready to play ASU. It figures that the extroverted Edwards will want to put on a showcase for all the potential recruits in the fertile Southern California recruiting market, and let’s talk real, this is a huge Pac-12 South Division game.

Projected Los Angeles weather forecast: The historical weather forecast for October 27 in L.A. is a high of 77 and a low of 57.

Comment: Always a major factor will be the return of so many native Southern Californians on the ASU roster, and this is not to be underestimated. With this game the gateway in the critical month of November, don’t be overly shocked if the Sun Devils aren’t in the thick of the division race.

Home Game Ranking: 1 – Notre Dame

The Obvious: The Trojans do battle with Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 24.

The Not So Obvious: Is it really necessary to pump up the most attractive home game on the schedule? Well, if the Trojans aren’t pumped up for the Irish after last season’s 49-14 shellacking in South Bend, nothing will. Depending on how the season unfolds, this game could have multiple meanings for both head coaches Clay Helton and Brian Kelly. You talk about potential hot seats, job security, and CFP implications, this is why this game is No. 1 on the home season schedule. Oh, and by the way, it figures to be a 5 p.m. PT nationally televised kickoff, and the weather could be very Midwestern-like if the wind kicks up.

Projected Los Angeles weather forecast: The historical weather forecast for November 24 in L.A. is a high of 71 and a low of 50.

Comment: It’s the Trojans and the Irish and not much needs to be added, but this will be the last game in the continuous renovating of the Coliseum. The next time Trojans fans enter the reconfigured Grand Old Lady will next season, and the renovation and construction should be complete. Forget that the 2019 opponent will be Fresno State because unlike this season’s potential lackluster UNLV season opener, 2019 will be all about the home opener in a “new” Coliseum, and that will surely get everybody’s attention.

The Obvious: And finally, the Trojans have had better home schedules and worse home schedules than the upcoming 2018 slate.

The Not So Obvious: However, no matter your evaluation of the 2018 home schedule, there will be overwhelming agreement that USC football is USC football, and the degree of difficulty and glitter becomes secondary, especially as Trojan fans are currently enduring the long off-season until the home opener against Rebels.



Greg Katz
Author
Greg Katz

Now in his 58th 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 staff writer 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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