Evening Kickoff Means a Long Day

Oscar Lua, USC's starting middle linebacker, is a fourth-year junior from Indio. He talked to Times staff writer Peter Yoon on Tuesday about his game-day routine and the build-up to today's Rose Bowl.

Game day is an ongoing routine. Some players, including myself, don't have a routine. We just lounge around all day and wait for the game. It's kind of an intense feeling when you have to wait so long for a late game like this. For a 5 p.m. game, we're going to be antsy around the hotel for a long time before we leave.

We get up in the morning and have our meal, then get on the bus, go to the locker room, get ready, come out periodically. Nothing ever changes on game day. It's something that keeps us in tune and regular.

Every player has his own little things that he does. For me, I love to take a shower before the game. It makes me feel fresh and ready to go. I wash away everything previous to this day. It's just a feeling that you've got to have before you go into the locker room and change into your warrior's outfit.

There's no rah-rah. At halftime, there's a little more yelling and screaming, but before the game it's really quiet. It's like the calm before the storm. Everybody is just hanging out, soaking it in, thinking about the game.

The defense sits in the southern end of the locker room, the offense is on the north end, so we're kind of separated so we can hang out with our own little platoon. That's as good as it gets.

I've had every friend and every family member who knows me ask for tickets or if I know anybody that can get a ticket. I've heard some of these tickets have been going for $4,000 on EBay.

Each player gets six complimentary tickets and I've got four for my family, one for my girlfriend and one for my best friend, so that's basically how I dealt with that.

Coach Carroll has done a great job of letting the team hang loose, letting us not be so worried about the game and do what we normally do. Otherwise, we might get pent up with intensity. They have vans that take us to any destination we want and that helps a lot because we don't have to drive.

What we did in the past doesn't matter unless we win this game, so we talk more about what we're going to try to do than what we have done to get here. What's in front of you is what's important.

Every football player has had somebody who has nudged him along the way, and for me that would be my father. He never really supported the fact that I played football, but he always supported me. Football was the sport that I chose, and he accepted that it was what I wanted to do and he has backed me 100%.

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