Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Monday, January 02, 2006

Rose Bowl prediction

Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the hype for this game. With the Longhorns aiming for their first national title since 1970, and with possibly their best team since the Earl Campbell years, the coverage in the DFW papers is enormous.

I've watched Texas play five times this year, and something about each game impressed me. The Longhorns won a very difficult road game at Ohio State. They took the fight to Oklahoma, a team that has had their number in the past few years. They systematically dismantled a hot team in Texas Tech. They kept their composure and came back at Oklahoma State to win going away. And in the Big 12 Championship Game, they took care of business and destroyed Colorado. Texas seems very poised, a quality that no one would have attributed to them until perhaps the Rose Bowl victory over Michigan last January.

Now they return to Pasadena to face the two-time defending champions, and maybe the best college offense ever. One could make a case for the great Army or Oklahoma teams, or some of the Nebraska I-formation juggernauts or the Miami pro-style passing teams, but USC can beat you doing anything. Watching the Trojans, it's almost as if they give the defense the play they're going to run, then they run it perfectly and succeed, just out of spite. It helps when you have a quarterback and running back who have won the last two Heisman trophies and could possibly be the top two picks in the NFL draft this year.

With two great offenses, it's logical to assume that the defense that plays better will determine who wins. And it's probably true that Texas' defense is the best that USC has faced this year. But I'm taking the opposite approach. My hunch is that the USC offense is so good, and so dangerous, that it will allow an average USC defense to take chances, to force the action, to try to force Vince Young into turnovers. Texas has had trouble at times taking care of the ball; they've always managed to find ways to get it back with their own pressure defense.

I just believe USC's machine-like offense is too strong for Texas to keep in check, and that may force Young to try to win the game by himself. Maybe he can, as he showed against Michigan last year. But I'm betting on the Trojans, and by more than most people.

USC 45, Texas 28


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