USC receiver Damian Williams, unable to prevent an interception by Arizona's… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)
After finishing the regular season on a down note, USC players sounded Monday as if they'd accepted their status as an Emerald Bowl participant.
"A lot of people on the outside are looking at it in a negative way, and probably a couple on the inside too," junior center Kristofer O'Dowd said before a team meeting. "But you have to look at it as being fortunate."
USC will play Boston College on Dec. 26 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The game is a few steps down from the Rose Bowl, but players seemed eager to play together one final time.
And to prove that they were better than their 8-4 record.
"After this bowl game, the statement people will make [about the Trojans] will be a lot different than what they're making right now," receiver Damian Williams said.
After the meeting, Coach Pete Carroll said the Trojans "need to find it again," and would attempt to begin doing so when they practice Saturday.
"Tangibly it's kind of hard to define exactly what that is, but it's in the way we approach things and the way we look at it," Carroll said.
Carroll added that the Trojans need to "re-create" themselves and pointed to the 2002 season, when USC won the first of seven consecutive Pacific 10 Conference titles and defeated Iowa in the Orange Bowl.
"We were making ourselves a really, really good club that had reason to believe that they could win every football game," Carroll said. "That's all somewhere down the road for us.
"How long? I don't know. Can we do it next year? I don't know. But we're going to go after it and see what happens."
Carroll said he did not anticipate any staff changes. "We're going to fight this thing out and make it work," he said. "I think it's clear. I think we can see where we are, and where we have to go, and now we have to battle to do this."
4 on Pac-10 first team
USC had four players selected first-team All-Pac-10, including offensive linemen Jeff Byers and Charles Brown, safety Taylor Mays and Williams, who was chosen as a wide receiver and punt returner.
"There's a lot of things I wish had gone another way, but for the most part I made the most of opportunities," said Williams, a fourth-year junior. Defensive end Everson Griffen, cornerbacks Josh Pinkard and Kevin Thomas and special teams player Garrett Green were second-team selections.
With finals beginning Wednesday, the Trojans will not practice until Saturday. The Trojans will also practice Sunday, then take two days off.