Gunner Romney didn’t grow up in Southern California, but this week, BYU’s junior recipient feels like it.
Anything anyone can talk about around BYU’s football facilities is his enthusiasm to meet the USC Trojans at the famous Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday (8:30 p.m. MST, ESPN), Romney said Tuesday night after rehearsals.
“They’ve said every kid who grows up in Southern California has their dream of playing at the Colosseum, whether it’s against the USC or the USC,” Romney said. “That added motivation leaks to everyone.”
When number 13 Cougars encounters a 4-6 Trojan in a 78,467-seat venue that has hosted two Super Bowls, the World Series, papal visits, hundreds of high-profile professional and college football games, and the Summer Olympics twice (one coming in 2028), it’s BYU’s first visit since the 35-18 defeat on September 6, 2003.
“Everyone wants to go and beat them on their own field,” said Romney, who said Tuesday he hasn’t yet decided if this is his last season in Provo. “The Coliseum is a historic college football stadium and USC is a historically good football team. In this game, we don’t need extra motivation. Everyone is ready to play. “
Cougars (9-2) are six-point favorites, which is significant given that USC is full of four- and five-star recruits, but BYU is not. Cougars ’lineup includes former walkers, including leading runner Tyler Allgeier.
“USC, they probably didn’t give any of us here at BYU time (recruiting),” said Allgeier, who hails from Fontana, California and ranks second in the country in a busy touchdown with 18. and 5. running yards per game, 118.0.
The USC tradition at the Colosseum is, of course, familiar to anyone interested in college football – the “Traveler” white stallion who jumps around and wanders around the field in the arousing version of “Conquest,” the famous USC Song Girls in white dress. sweaters, Victory Bell, “Fight On!” songs and fighting song, written in 1922, “Spirit of Troy” marching band, “Tommy Trojan”, two-finger “V for Victory” hand gestures and many more.
“When you think of college football stadiums and the best stadiums to play in, this stands out from the crowd,” said BYU lineup Max Tooley. “The Coliseum is one of those historically awesome playgrounds. That’s what I’ve heard, and I’m so excited to get in and play there for the first time. “
None of Cougar has ever played at the Colosseum, which was built in 1921-23 as a memorial to veterans of the Los Angeles area who served in World War I, but several staff coaches have coached there, including head coach Kalani Sitake and the offensive coordinator. Aaron Roderick when they were part of the Kyle Whittingham staff in Utah.
“I want them to embrace the environment and take the opportunity to play at this stadium,” Sitake said, noting that he expects “thousands and thousands” of BYU fans to be there to support the nationally ranked Cougars. “They look around and they see a lot of blue, and they see all the great things and remember all the great athletes and the great talent that has been on the field.
“They can add this to their list where they got to play while at BYU, and it’s going to be fun,” Sitake continued. “The message is to embrace the moment and have fun with it.”
Roderick said he told offensive players about the Coliseum on Monday and told them to enjoy every moment, but also understands that USC is much, much better than its 4-6 record suggests. The Trojans lost to UCLA 62-33 last weekend.
“It’s a great college football environment,” Roderick said. “First of all, the field itself is an awesome playing surface, just a fast track, on a beautiful lawn. I don’t know what the prediction is, but usually when you play in Southern California, you play in good weather on a beautiful platform and then play in a great stadium. It is one of the historic buildings of university football.
“When you come out of the tunnel, you know there’s a lot of history in that place and it’s an exciting opportunity,” Roderick continued. “But you don’t want to make it too much. We’ve played a lot of great games while I’ve been here. I don’t think there’s any reason to panic. I just talked about the opportunity and how fun a place it is to play.”
Even more intrigue is the fact that both start-up quarterback players are high school products in Utah – USC’s Jaxson Dart played in Roys and Corner Canyon, while BYU’s Jaren Hall prepared in Maple Mountain in Southern Utah County.
“Absolutely, definitely 100%,” Hall said Monday when asked if he was looking forward to playing on the big stage.
“I mean, I grew up watching Reggie Bush, one of my favorite players. … I saw the crowd and the stadium and followed (coach) Pete Carroll to Seattle, where Russell Wilson plays.
Two members of BYU’s traveling force – defending lineman Uriah Leiataua and corner defender coach Jernaro Gilford – grew within a 10-mile radius of the Colosseum.
Leiataua said she grew up a UCLA fan because her brothers played in the Bruins, but playing at the Colosseum is special to her.
“It’s one thing I’m really looking forward to getting to play there against them, especially in front of the people in my family and hometown,” he said.
Gilford, who played in nearby Westchester High, said he probably has 100 friends and family in the game.
“My mother still lives in the same house that isn’t even 10 miles from the stadium,” she said, noting that she is good friends with USC receiver coach Keary Colbert and several members of the sports department administration.
Gilford said USC interim coach Donte Williams, a good friend, will keep them ready and warn USC players and fans that BYU is known to bring a lot of people to games all over the country.
“Donte says we travel well,” he said. “He’s announcing his word to get them a nice-sized crowd. And they deserve it. After all, it’s USC, even though they’ve been through some things. But Cougar Nation will definitely come out and show it.”
Playing at the Colosseum requires no less.