So you cleared your plans in late November to make sure you could check out USC in the College Football Playoff championship on Monday, Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium.
And then quarterback Caleb Williams got injured, USC lost to Utah and the Trojans missed the playoffs completely. (What happened next in the Cotton Bowl is another story altogether.)
Now what’s a fan to do with – let’s check – Georgia and Texas Christian in town to play for a national championship?
Well, if you choose to watch or even attend the game – the cheapest tickets as of late Friday were going for $315, plus fees, on the resale market – here are five things you should know:
Two Heisman finalist quarterbacks will be on the field
USC’s Williams easily won the Heisman Trophy in December, but he acknowledged that the other three finalists all had earned playoff berths.
“I may be standing up here today, but y’all get to go to the College Football Playoffs,” he said. “Guess you can’t win ’em all.”
Georgia’s Stetson Bennett once played behind J.T. Daniels, the former USC quarterback who transferred to Georgia, but won the job last season and led the Bulldogs to a national championship. On Dec. 31, he guided Georgia’s comeback over Ohio State in a 42-41 victory to reach another title game.
TCU’s Max Duggan wasn’t even the Horned Frogs’ starter entering the season, but that quickly changed and he was the Heisman runner-up to Williams. He also had heart surgery – and then emergency surgery for a blood clot – during his sophomore year.
Adversity does not seem to faze him.
No tailgating allowed
Showers are forecast for Monday in Inglewood, but that’s not what will stop Georgia and TCU fans from tailgating. Game officials are doing it.
There’s no tailgating allowed in SoFi Stadium parking lots for the game. This apparently is for the sake of getting everyone parked, but it’s not likely to sit well with fans who cherish that part of game day as much as they do the action on the field … or more.
Game organizers have a free gathering area where they say fans can hang out, but it’s not the same as barbecuing ribs in the back of a truck loaded down with buckets of SweetWater 420 and Athens, Georgia’s R.E.M. blasting.
That could make for some not-so-shiny and unhappy people.
Southern California fans are quite fond of former TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the Hall of Famer from the Chargers, and there are other notable athletes who spent time in Fort Worth: football players Sammy Baugh, Andy Dalton and Davey O’Brien come to mind.
Outside of athletes, though, big-name alumni include Broadway star Betty Buckley, “American Pie” actor Chris Klein and bestselling author Dan Jenkins. TCU also gets points for its fictional graduate — Russell Johnson, The Professor from “Gilligan’s Island.”
Georgia’s former athletes include Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, former Rams running back Todd Gurley and basketball greats Teresa Edwards and Dominique Wilkins.
Members of the B-52s and the aforementioned R.E.M. attended Georgia, and Oscar winner Kim Basinger is a graduate.
If you are a lifelong football fan whose Texas-born father used to quiz you on mascots from the Southwest Conference (may it rest in peace) – a bit too specific? – you might be aghast to learn that TCU’s Horned Frogs really should be called horned lizards.
Apparently, they’re just commonly known as horned toads or frogs.
Georgia’s adorable live bulldog mascot, Uga X, didn’t really need any help in this contest, but it got some anyway. Unfortunately, the family that owns Uga X thought the trip would be too trip on the 9-year-old bulldog, who will watch the game from home.
OK, our fifth item actually has four quick-hit notes:
- The game is scheduled to kick off at 4: 30 p.m., which should make for a fun rush-hour drive in and around Inglewood, especially if it’s raining.
- For those who never have been to SoFi Stadium, it is covered. So you’re likely to avoid getting wet once you’re in the venue – though that depends on which way the wind blows the rain and how close you’re sitting to an open end.
- ESPN has the TV coverage for those who don’t have a ticket.
- The NFL playoffs start Saturday if the college game is not your thing.