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Thursday, June 5, 2014
Plotting a USC road strategy

By Greg Katz

LOS ANGELES – You’ve just received your master's, a significant pay raise, and your cardinal-and-gold football yearnings are to take in a USC football game on the road in 2014. The problem is that you can’t decide which game will provide the most bang for the buck.

Friends, you’ve come to the right place. As your unofficial tour guide, allow me to rank the best to worst options if you’re planning on traveling with the Men of Troy.

1. Sept. 13 at Boston College
Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass
Accommodation options: Boston and vicinity
The venue: Alumni Stadium (44,500)
Single-game tickets: There are currently no single-game tickets being sold for the USC game.
The best thing: It’s Boston and all the touristy sites such as the Freedom Trail, Paul Revere’s house, Bunker Hill, clam chowder, and Fenway Park.
The worst thing: It could be extremely hot and humid even for an 8 p.m. kickoff. Finding a ticket for this game is going to be extremely tough. You might consider buying a BC mini-season ticket plan ($115) and selling the other two game options (Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Colorado State).
Cost: $1,200-plus (air, hotel, car -- not including meals/game ticket).
Summation: By far the best roadie of the season. If it’s not overly hot and humid, what’s not to like? It’s a four-day, historical trip for maximum value in beautiful part of the country.

2. Nov. 1 at Washington State
Location: Pullman, Washington
Accommodation options: Spokane, Washington/Idaho
The venue: Martin Stadium (31,700)
Single-game tickets: TBD
The best thing: Surprised? In the middle of nowhere, but the drive from Spokane is relaxing, scenic and unique. The little town of Cofax, just outside of Pullman, is in the heart of the Palouse country and it’s very Midwest. Mom-and-pop stores line Main Street. WSU’s Martin Stadium is a joy to view a game and could be called the Wrigley Field of the Pac-12 because of its diminutive size.
The worst thing: In the middle of nowhere, the uncertainty of November weather, and there are no big cities or outstanding tourist attractions within the immediate area of Pullman. Driving back to Spokane at night after the game with the possibility of snow is spooky. Some fans fly into Idaho, staying near the Eastern Washington/Idaho border, thus making the trip safer and less of a long car ride between their hotel and Martin Stadium.
Cost: $800 to $1,100-plus (air, hotel, car – not including meals/game ticket).
Summation: This three-day trip is for the adventurist. The beauty of the Palouse country of Eastern Washington can be both beautiful and treacherous in November. It should be plenty cold, but the area and topography is something you don't see in Southern California.

3. Sept. 6 at Stanford
Location: Palo Alto, Calif.
Accommodation options: San Francisco/San Jose/Santa Clara
The venue: Stanford Stadium (50,424)
Single-game tickets: Available to the general public approximately Aug. 1.
The best thing: It’s a short flight and a relatively inexpensive outing. Palo Alto is still a drive from San Francisco, depending on traffic, but with the game starting at 12:30 p.m., there is plenty of time to spend Saturday evening in the City by the Bay. Stanford Stadium is one of the Pac-12’s best stadiums to watch a game, and the university is peaceful, safe and beautiful.
The worst thing: A 12:30 p.m. kickoff means an early morning wake-up call. The drive from San Francisco has no redeeming social value. Staying in San Jose or Santa Clara provides little in terms of excitement or wonder. Boring might be another perspective unless you like Six Flags.
Cost: $750 to $1,000 (air, hotel, car – not including meals/game ticket).
Summation: This can be the best travel option outside of the earlier trip to the Northeast and The Great Northwest. The Bay Area Weekender is a USC tradition. Leave early Friday morning and return Sunday and you’ll have enough time to enjoy all that is good in NorCal.

4. Oct. 25 at Utah
Location: Salt Lake City
Accommodations: Salt Lake City
The venue: Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,017)
Single-game tickets: Unavailable
The best thing: A three-day visit to Salt Lake City is a unique area. If you love skiing, there are plenty of locations within driving distance and downtown SLC is interesting. The university is located on a hill above the city, and the stadium has great sight lines in which to watch a game and see the city below. The fresh air is invigorating, and then there is the Great Salt Lake for atmosphere.
The worst thing: Well, the weather could be anything and much of the fan comfort could depend on the kickoff time. If you’re not into visiting the great Mormon Temple or skiing, you might have to dig deep to find something to do.
Cost: $340 to $500 (air, hotel, car – not including meals/game ticket).
Summation: It’s an interesting trip, to say the least, if you’ve never been there. If you don’t ski and have already seen the Great Salt Lake, three days is more than enough unless you want to test your patience.

5. Oct. 11 at Arizona
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Accommodations options: Tucson/Phoenix vicinity
The venue: Arizona Stadium (56,037)
Single-game tickets: On sale in August
The best thing: Well, if you like the desert in early October, it’s right up your alley. Some SoCal folks drive to Phoenix to experience the best of the Valley of the Sun, and then drive to Tucson on the day of the game. Some Trojans fans also fly directly into Tucson. The Tucson area does have some natural habitats and a respected air museum if that’s your thing. The Arizona campus is nice.
The worst thing: There is really nothing to do for the most part in Tucson unless you want to play golf. If you are looking for a lot of energy and an electric atmosphere, Tucson is not your cup of tea.
Cost: $300 to $650 (air, hotel, car – not including meals/game ticket).
Summation: The game atmosphere is great, and the Wildcats students can get as loud and crazy as they come in the Pac-12.

6. Nov. 22 at UCLA
Location: Pasadena, Calif.
Accommodation options: Los Angeles or Pasadena
The venue: The Rose Bowl (92,542)
Single-game tickets: $100 (preferred), $105 (general admission)
The best thing: Not an expensive outing and the Rose Bowl is still the Rose Bowl, a sight to been seen. Seeing the rivalry first-hand, it lives up to expectations.
The worst thing: The traffic getting into and out of the Rose Bowl. It can be a nightmare, especially if it’s a night game. If it is a night game in Pasadena in late November, it can get pretty chilly by SoCal standards.
Cost: Unless you’re an out-of-towner, there is little expense except for the game ticket, parking and a lousy Rose Bowl hot dog.
Summation: It’s USC-UCLA, and need we say more?