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USC game draws fans, band to coast

John Paul Witt | Tuesday, November 28, 2006

After watching Notre Dame’s fifth consecutive loss to USC on Saturday, students returned to campus from Thanksgiving break disappointed by the football team’s final regular season performance and fans’ lack of energy.

Junior Ge Wang and sophomore Thomas Mader were among the several hundred students and 75 band members who traveled to Southern California over the break.

“The trip was a lot of fun, besides the game,” Wang said.

Mader said he noticed a lack of enthusiasm in the Notre Dame student section.

“There was a lot of energy at the start, but the combination of being on the road and being down by so much so quickly took the energy away after the first quarter,” Mader said. “Everyone sat down.”

Irish coach Charlie Weis personally requested the University marching band play at the USC game because of the impact the band had at Michigan State earlier in the season. Weis’ hand-written request has been hung in the band room.

Band president John Cogill said that the band was used to playing in enemy territory. “But we expected a big USC game like last year where we could make more of a difference,” Cogill said.

Students said they went to the Coliseum expecting a closer score than the 44-24 Trojan victory.

“We were outmatched,” Wang said. “I thought it would’ve been a closer game. It was frustrating. This was supposed to be the biggest game of the year.”

“The excitement was ruined from the start,” said Mader, who said that he “expected it to be a difficult game, but the team and student section should’ve been more motivated by the challenge.”

Three hundred students were offered the chance to buy tickets to the game at face value. Some weren’t so lucky, including Wang, who paid $320 for his ticket on eBay.

The band members who traveled to USC performed at a small pep rally before kickoff and were on the sidelines during the game.

The entire 380-member University marching band is expected to perform when Notre Dame goes to a bowl game.