By their own lofty standards, USC football didn’t have a great contract. There were some good seasons, but nothing close to the thunder and lightning of the Pete Carroll years of the early ’80s, or the old grandeur of the ’70s and early ’80s. But this year, thanks to a new coach, some high-profile transfers, and their forever stellar hiring, it looks like USC is back.
USC is undoubtedly the magic program of college football in Southern California, with a roster of famous, dedicated alumni and fans who rival (and overlap with) the Lakers, including Will Ferrell, Snoop Dogg, Henry Winkler, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. The Bush years left an indelible cultural mark on the college football scene, both for the team’s sheer electrification on the field, and the scandal that followed. Now that USC is back to the expected level of flash, excitement and points on the scoreboard, the flashing lights are sure to return to the sideline.
Like the city’s other college football program, USC has a historic stadium at the LA Memorial Coliseum. Just south of downtown, accessibility by highways and public transportation, and proximity to the University of Southern California campus all make tailgating at the Coliseum an incredible experience. Now that USC is good again, fans will be back in the stadium, and most importantly, fans will be back to hang out and celebrate before the game.
Whether you’re considering a first visit to the home OJ built or going back to the old school, it’s probably time for a refresher. Here’s everything you need to know to get the best tailgate experience at the USC Game at the Coliseum:
When and where does USC play?
USC has five home games left at the Coliseum, and one competition match with UCLA in the Rose Bowl. They are all Saturdays between October 1 and November 26, except for the Friday night game against Colorado on November 11.
How can I buy tickets?
Tickets are available through the official USC Ticketing website and via secondary markets.
When and where do I back door?
The hardest thing about setting up your tailgate for a USC game is that it requires planning – you have to purchase a tailgate pass in advance, and then management assigns you a tailgate location.
Because of the stadium and campus location, all the parking is in big buildings, which isn’t exactly conducive to the barbecue and bustle. So, instead, the location of the tailgate is on the campus itself, away from the actual tailgate of your car. You have to move all your stuff, but the trade-off is an atmosphere located several steps away from a barren parking lot – the effect is similar to a broiler’s picnic, halfway between a cocktail party and a campus club fair.
Tailgating begins six hours before the match, and ends once Alex Stadthaus sends it away.
What are the rules about cooking and drinking on the go?
Glass containers and drinking toys are prohibited, and if you want to bring barrels, you must sign it when you get your tailgate pass.
If you are going to grill, you should keep it 15 feet from structures, keep it out of the way under your tent, and bring or rent a fire extinguisher as well. No table-mounted gas ranges, fire pits or smokers allowed.
So what should I bring to eat and drink, and where do I get it?
If you are taking a restaurant walk, you have plenty of great options right near the campus and spread out in all directions – another advantage of this central location. If you’re coming from the West, you might snag some Hotville hot chicken, favorite Jewish mixed snacks and burgers from Johnny’s, or NOLA classics from Harold & Belle’s.
To the south is Baba’s Vegan Café, Woody’s Bar-B-Que, or Tacos Los Güichos. From the east, swing by Brooklyn Ave Pizza Co. , Pikunico, or pick up some of Los Angeles’ best tacos from Boyle Heights. To the north is Langer, Pearl River Deli, and all the wonders of downtown.
For your beverage needs, it’s worth devouring the legendary Ramirez Liquor in Boyle Heights if at all convenient. There are plenty of liquor stores on the typical corner near campus, or you can stop at a local brewery on the way, such as Highland Park, Boomtown, or Party Beer. And if you’re feeling fancy, there’s always Flask & Field.
If I plan to cook on campus, where should I get supplies?
There’s Trader Joe’s in University Village right next to the campus, and there’s Smart & Final near Vermont, both of which should have everything you need for a classic tailgate. Even better, choose the local cornices that are scattered around the stadium.
Is there a place to celebrate before the game if I don’t want to set up my own tailgate?
The Trojan Family Game Day experience is free and open to the public in Alumni Park, right in the middle of the campus. There’s plenty of seating, screens showing college football games from around the country, and family-friendly games and activities like face painting, Extra Point Kick, and crafting. Options for food, soft drinks, beer and wine are also available for purchase from the many vendors.
If you’re looking for an off-campus place to eat, drink, and enjoy before or after a game, your options are very similar to our recommendations for Bank of California Stadium.
Can I bring food and drink to the stadium?
You are allowed to bring food into the stadium provided it is inside an approved clear plastic bag, and you are allowed to bring two factory sealed water bottles per person, but no other drinks. You cannot bring any alcohol into the stadium, but there is beer and wine for sale inside.
How good is the USC football team this year?
Only time will tell, but they look really good. And more than just being good, it’s fun and exciting, with a dynamic attack and charismatic players in excellent skill positions. This is where USC has traditionally blossomed, and players have turned to Dancing with the starsCelebrities are on a level, and they seem ready to do it again.
But if things don’t work out, it wouldn’t be the first time a high-ranking USC team stumbled and fell flat on its face — just ten years ago, they dispatched what some consider to be the most overrated team of all time.
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