SOUTHERN CAL VS TEXAS
This year's Rose Bowl, the BCS championship game, features the only two undefeated college football teams in America. The USC Trojans are 12-0 and won each game by an average of more than four touchdowns. The Texas Longhorns are also 12-0 and won each of their contests this fall by an average of more than five touchdowns. The two offenses are ranked numbers one and two in the country and are the only two in the United States to average at least 50 points per game this season. Finally, the matchup also showcases all three finalists for the 2005 Heisman Trophy.
> DAVID'S TAKE
Texas and USC have been on this crash course all season, and if this game is anything like the double-overtime thriller in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl or last year's Rose Bowl won by Texas on a last-second field goal, we should be in for a real treat.
USC is nearly unstoppable on offense, and though Texas is pretty good against the run, they have not faced any threats as good as the Trojan duo of Bush and White. Even if Texas stops the run, QB Matt Leinart will throw the ball all over the field and escape pressure all night. Texas will need to stop the USC offense when given opportunities such as third and longs or else USC will win.
Texas matches the rushing prowess of USC yard for yard, but they have a different type of arsenal. Vince Young is a dual threat quarterback who is very dangerous out of the pocket whether he runs or throw pinpoint passes to WRs Billy Pittman and David Thomas. USC has not had the best of defenses this season, but they will try their best to limit Vince Young to just passing the ball.
This game should come down to intangibles. Texas has won bigger games this season in tougher situations, but USC also has those Notre Dame and Fresno State games to point to. Reggie Bush will not have 500 all-purpose yards against Texas, and national championship referees will not allow Bush to push Leinart into any end zones at the end of a game. In addition, Coach Mac Brown has won games with motivation and good play calling this year, and in championship games, this quality should not be undervalued.
When it comes to championship experience, USC has all the goods, but Texas knows how to win close games. As was proved in the last great title game between Ohio State and Miami, dynasties fall to teams of destiny who know how to win close games. I think Texas is a team of destiny and has been since they escaped the Horseshoe in September. Vince Young will have his revenge over the last two Heisman winners by taking their precious winning streak and unprecedented three-peat away from them. I think Texas will keep it close and find a way to win it in the end.
> JONATHAN'S TAKE
The Trojans and Longhorns were ranked numbers one and two by almost everyone, including this site, back in August, so it's only appropriate that the two meet to decide who walks away with this season's national title. And even throwing that fact out, what makes this game even more appealing to fans everywhere is the fact that this year's Rose Bowl and BCS title game is a matchup of the top two offenses in all of America. No one has scored more points this season than these two squads.
It's also a great matchup because it features arguably the top three college football players in the country. A large number of the most impressive individual performances of the season were turned in by Texas's Vince Young and USC's Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. Any of the three is capable of taking a game over, but on the opposite side of the coin, it truly isn't all about these three. If it was, neither of these teams would be sitting undefeated as the only two teams in the country with a shot at winning the 2005 BCS title. Both squads are talented from top to bottom at every position on the field.
It's been talked about, previewed, and analyzed over and over again. But when the teams hit the field, it will be all about football and not about the hype. The potential for this game is incredible. Each team's defense has struggled at times this season, though the Horns' unit has put up the better numbers and shown the most consistency. Young is America's top dual-threat quarterback, but USC can beat teams in so many different ways. If Leinart is not heaving the ball downfield towards Dwayne Jarrett or Steve Smith, he's handing it to Heisman winner Reggie Bush. That is, if he's not handing it to LenDale White, yet another 1000-yard rusher.
The bottom line, in my opinion, will be the Trojans' ability to control the clock will solid running and their ability to hit the big play at any moment. While Young is really the only consistent big-play threat for Texas, USC has a full squad of players who can score from anywhere on the field at any time. Points will be scored, some defense will be played, and a large number of big plays will be hit. But in the end, it will be the Trojans who put the most points on the board and claim yet another national title.
> REED'S TAKE
A rare clash of undefeated foes, this epic game will pave the way for football into the year 2006. Matching the finesse and skill of the Trojans versus the grit and determination of the Longhorns, this game promises to be one of monumental proportions.
Looking at the Trojans' offensive attack first, it starts with QB Matt Leinart. After this season and last, Leinhart has to be considered on of the all time greats on the gridiron. His favorite targets will be wideouts Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith. At 6'5", Jarrett still manages to be exceptionally fast with outstanding hands. While not as athletically gifted as Jarrett, Smith has amazing hands and catches almost anything that is thrown his way. He is a great compliment to Jarrett, and when covered by the other team's #2 corner, he can easily have a big game.
After working on his throwing mechanics and accuracy, Texas QB Vince Young has emerged as one of the brightest stars on the college football scene. Young has a good arm, but what makes him so dangerous is his ability to take off when the pocket collapses, thus buying his team some yards with his feet. Built in the same manner as Jarrett at 6'5", there are not many defensive backs that can handle the height and strength of Texas WR Limas Sweed. He has developed into one of Young's favorite targets, especially in the red-zone due to his size and hands. And don't forget David Thomas, one of the best tight ends in the country.
USC RB Reggie Bush has tremendous quickness, speed, and power, and in addition to all these tools, he is also an excellent pass receiver and gives defensive coordinators fits. If he wasn't overshadowed by the spectacular Bush, fellow Trojan RB LenDale White would be on everybody's short list as one of the best tailbacks in all of collegiate athletics. White's running style contrasts to Bush's as he is a power back and would just as soon run over you as run by you.
After backing up Cedric Benson for much of his career, Longhorn RB Selvin Young has taken the ball and not disappointed the fans. He possesses great speed and instinct, knowing where to cut and when. But in the Big XII Championship game against Colorado, freshman back Jamaal Charles was the Longhorns' leading rusher. A physical back with cat-like quickness, Charles is the prototype running back for Mack Brown's system.
USC possesses all the tools defensively to make Vince Young beat them with his arm. If it comes down to this, expect the Trojans to win easily because, although he is improved, Young is still not as prolific a passer as Leinhart and will make mistakes. As for Texas, their hope lies in their ability to stop USC's run game while at the same time putting enough pressure on Leinhart to force errant throws. Look for this to be a good game until the mid-third quarter when the Trojans mount up and leave the Longhorns behind.