Bay Area trip is a must for USC fans

first_imgAubrey Kragen is a senior majoring in communication. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Release the Kragen,” runs Fridays. It’s that time of the season again: time for hordes of rowdy USC students and proud alumni to take over the Bay Area for the annual Weekender.Though the trip to San Francisco is always entertaining, this year might shape up to be the best Weekender game in the last four years.Since I was a spring admit my freshman year, I didn’t make the trip in 2011 — I just watched the game on TV. USC played against California at San Francisco’s AT&T Park while Cal’s Memorial Stadium was being renovated. I was especially excited to watch the game to see Cal safety Stefan McClure play, since he went to my rival high school and torched us on offense and defense every year.USC cruised past an outmatched Cal team by a score of 30-9. A young Marqise Lee beat McClure down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, and my love affair with the Weekender began.But 2012 was a rough year for my relationship with the Weekender. You could say the Weekender cheated on me. You could say I walked in on the Weekender cheating on me in my own bed.The trip started off with my car breaking down, and I should have known it was doomed from the start. My friends and I were stranded on the side of the freeway in the middle of nowhere until a tow truck took us to Bakersfield, the home of then-backup quarterback Cody Kessler.I still think Kessler and that Pep Boys are the only redeeming things about that city.The game at Stanford the next day added insult to injury. USC had entered the season ranked No. 1 in the country and was ranked No. 2 at the time despite taking care of business in its first two games. (I’m looking at you, Associated Press and Coaches Polls.) Stanford was ranked No. 21 following Andrew Luck’s departure for the NFL. Matt Barkley had come back for his senior season, and USC’s athletic department was already deep into its “Barkley for Heisman” campaign.Despite looking mediocre all game, the Trojans held a 14-7 lead in the third quarter, but then everything started going wrong — Stanford tied the game up at the end of the third quarter and went ahead 21-14 early in the fourth.Barkley’s Heisman hopes were over after he threw two picks and failed to lead USC down the field in the last few minutes. “Tailback U” put up a total of 26 rush yards. The sold out Stanford crowd rushed the field, and the USC students in the stands stood there, mouths agape, crushed.That game turned out to be the beginning of the end for USC in 2012. The team sputtered to a 7-6 finish, including losses to Arizona, Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA, and fell completely out of the national rankings by the end. I look back on that game and shudder, and I’m sure you all do too.But all of the fans who made it out to the 2013 Weekender knew that the result would turn out better. At the time, Cal was 1-8, with its sole win coming against Portland State. USC, on the other hand, was 6-3 and was infused with a new energy under interim head coach Ed Orgeron.My friends and I spent all of Friday in the city, bumping into Trojan fans everywhere and filling Fisherman’s Wharf with “Fight On” cheers. We also fell victim to the infamous Bushman jumping out at us. I won’t pretend I didn’t scream like a little girl.And the game? It was a blast.Trojans swarmed the Cal tailgates down the hill from Memorial Stadium, which was a sign of the game to come. USC had a field day with the Bears, running up a 62-28 score.My cousin had just transferred to Cal to play defensive end, so it was the first time I got to see him play (and he got wrecked — sorry, Kyle). I spent the entire third quarter sitting across from USC’s student section with my grandparents, uncle and cousin. I profusely apologized for how badly we were beating the Bears, since my grandpa is a lifelong Cal fan.This year, No. 14 USC heads to No. 13 Stanford, which is coming off a 45-0 walloping of UC Davis in its first game. The Kevin Hogan-led Cardinal will surely provide a formidable opponent. The game will serve as a litmus test for first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian’s offense and will prove Kessler’s true worth this season.If you’re reading this in print, that means you’re probably not headed up to the game, but I hope you all make it up to the Weekender at least once in your college career.Fight On and Beat the Farm!last_img