It All Comes Down to This
I find it funny that ABC analysts and just about everyone associated with the Disney is stating that they can not remember a national championship game more anticipated than this year's. Are they stupid, or did they just forget about all the hype heading into last year's Orange Bowl between USC and Oklahoma. If I remember correctly, most college football experts were divided on who would win last year's BCS title game. The only thing that put a damper on the pregame hype was 12-0 Auburn on the outside looking in.
That game aside the most anticipated national title game, prior to this year's, that I can remember was the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Unbeaten Florida versus unbeaten defending national champion Nebraska. The game has some similarities to this year's Rose Bowl. Nebraska was on the cusp of its second national title, but was very close to winning the national title back in 1993, losing to Florida State on a last minute field goal. Nebraska was as dominant as any team ever in college football during the 1995 season. Florida on the other hand, was the trendy favorite heading into the Fiesta Bowl. The Gators were headed to their first national title game under 6th year head coach Steve Spurrier.
USC has been won two AP national titles in a row and are on the cusp of unprecedented third. Mack Brown has Texas in its first national title game in his tenure, and many are calling for a Longhorn win, despite being a touchdown underdog. Last year's national title game was supposed to be a great game. Few thought USC could dominate the Sooners on both sides of the ball. Many thought, Oklahoma's speedy defense would contain USC's offense and that Oklahoma would be able to move the ball with their balanced offense. USC laid the smack down, 55-19, and it was not even that close.
Texas is a better team than Oklahoma last year for one reason only, Vince Young. I underestimated Texas this year. I didn't think the Longhorns could duplicate last year's 11 wins since they had to replace their two best players, Cedric Benson and Derrick Johnson. But it was not Texas I underestimated, but Vince Young. I totally overlooked the emergence of Vince Young from a mobile quarterback to a complete quarterback that can beat you with both his arm and legs.
The Rose Bowl breakdown comes down to basically two questions.
1. Can USC move the ball and score on the Texas defense?
2. Can USC stop Vince Young?
The answer to both questions is yes. That should equal an easy Trojan victory, right? Not necessarily, Texas is more than Vince Young. Just because USC will be able to move the ball on the Longhorn defense, does not mean the defense will not make plays. Special teams will play a vital part in tonight's national title game. USC is not great in this area, and Texas will score at least one special teams touchdown. If you give USC head coach Pete Carroll a month to prepare for an offense, his defense will be ready. That will be the difference. The USC offense will score points, but the defense will step it up just enough to contain the Texas offense.
Much like the way Nebraska-Florida played out in 1996, USC should come away with a dominant win led by their offense. The scoreboard will not look like the 62-24 massacre ten years ago, but there will be no doubt about the outcome. The Longhorn defense and special teams will score some points making the outcome seam closer than the game really was. Like Florida in January of 1996, Texas will dust themselves off after their loss and point to next year as their year to win it all, as they should. USC 38, Texas 27.