|Bowl Game Preview: Rose Bowl|
|Written by TheSpread|
|Monday, 01 January 2007 08:00|
Rose Bowl Betting: Michigan Huge Favorite to Beat Southern Cal
Those circumstances left the Rose Bowl as the biggest beneficiary, getting to feature a classic matchup rich in tradition between the Pac-10 champion and a Big Ten powerhouse as the Trojans and Wolverines settle for a New Year's Day showdown.
This bowl may be the Granddaddy of Them All - USC is facing
Michigan in it for the eighth time - but both teams would much rather be playing a week later in the BCS title game against Ohio State.
The Trojans (10-2) were in position to do just that after a win over Notre Dame bumped them past Michigan (11-1) for the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings. A stunning 13-9 loss to unranked UCLA the following week, however, closed USC's regular season and ended its hopes of reaching a third straight BCS title game.
The loss could have left the idle Wolverines with the inside track to a rematch with the Buckeyes for the national championship. Instead, they were again leapfrogged in the standings. This time it was Florida that did it, beating Arkansas in the SEC title game to steal the No. 2 spot by the slimmest margin in BCS history and earn the chance to face Ohio State.
``For this team, it was a tremendous disappointment,'' Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. ``But sometimes, in athletics, you get a bad bounce and things don't go your way. And we have to move on from this.''
USC coach Pete Carroll can sympathize with Carr because his Trojans were bypassed for the national championship game three years ago despite being ranked No. 1 in the polls, and had to settle for facing Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
``I know it's challenging to have to live with the results of it,'' Carroll said. ``I admire his respect for this game and this matchup.
``They're loaded, they've had a great season. They came up a couple points short of winning their conference championship.''
Third-ranked Michigan's only blemish remains a 42-39 road loss to Ohio State in its regular season finale. Apparently the voters felt Florida deserved a shot at the Buckeyes as opposed to giving the Wolverines a rematch with their Big Ten archrivals.
``Guys were down a little bit, but we have to understand that we put ourselves in that situation,'' said Michigan linebacker LaMarr Woodley, the Lombardi Award winner as the nation's top college lineman or linebacker. ``We allowed other people to control our destiny. If we would've come out, won in Columbus, taken care of our business, it would've never come down to that.''
Woodley keyed a Michigan defense that dominated virtually all season until the Ohio State game, when it allowed 503 total yards - 180 more than its previous season high. It was only the second time all season the Wolverines surrendered more than 60 rushing yards, giving up 187, though they still finished as the nation's top-ranked run defense at 43.0 yards per game.
The ground game is not really the eighth-ranked Trojans' specialty due to the departures of Reggie Bush and LenDale White, but when they have not run the ball effectively, they have lost. In the only two games this season it failed to rush for 100 yards, USC was defeated both times.
A 33-31 loss at Oregon State on Oct. 28 saw the Trojans held to 86 yards on 27 carries, and they were limited to 55 yards on 29 attempts against UCLA.
The rushing attack is Michigan's focus offensively, with Mike Hart leading the way. Having finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, Hart ended the regular season as the country's seventh-leading rusher with 126.3 yards per game and also ran for 14 touchdowns.
The Trojans are led offensively by quarterback John David Booty along with All-American receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith. Booty has thrown for 25 touchdowns with nine interceptions, and is 44 yards away from giving USC a 3,000-yard passer for the fifth straight season. Smith and Jarrett have combined for 123 receptions, 1,785 yards and 18 TDs.
Appearing in the Rose Bowl is nothing new for many of this game's top players. Each program is in the Rose Bowl for the third time in four years, including the 2004 game when USC beat Michigan 28-14.
That matchup had been the only one between Pac-10 and Big Ten schools in five Rose Bowl games since it became part of the BCS. These schools met seven other times in the Rose Bowl when those conferences were traditionally represented in Pasadena.
``To have this opportunity is something we shot for way back when,'' Carroll said. ``USC and Michigan has become a very special matchup. We'll enjoy all the festivities and the buildup and look forward to a great event.''
The only common opponent these teams had this season was Notre Dame, and both won very handily. USC beat the Irish 44-24 on Nov. 25, about two months after Michigan won 47-21 at South Bend.
USC has a 21-9 record at the Rose Bowl, including 5-2 against Michigan, despite losing there to Texas in last season's national championship game. The Wolverines are 8-11 in this bowl, including losses in their last two appearances.
``The day will never come in my lifetime where there'll be a disappointment in playing in the great tradition of the Rose Bowl, where every kid in the country will be watching and cheering for somebody,'' Carr said. ``It's been a special team, a special year. We'd like to win one.''
by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us
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