USC Football Faces Michigan In Rose Bowl
Dec. 19, 2006
No. 8/7 USC, making an unprecedented fifth straight BCS bowl appearance, takes on No. 3 Michigan in the 93rd Rose Bowl in a classic Pac-10/Big Ten matchup. It's the third Rose Bowl trip in the past 4 years for both teams. It will be a battle of the winningest Rose Bowl team (USC) against the winningest college football team (Michigan). These also are the top 2 teams in Rose Bowl appearances, as USC is playing in a record 31st Rose Bowl and Michigan in its 20th. The Rose Bowl stadium has been USC's home away from home, as this will be Troy's 47th game there (but the first time it has played there back-to-back). USC will be looking to reverse a trend, as it has lost in its last 2 trips to this stadium...by a total of just 7 points. The teams have collided 7 times in Pasadena, most recently 3 years ago when a USC victory in the 2004 Rose Bowl led to a national championship. USC traditionally has fared well in a variety of situations it is facing: in BCS games, against the Big Ten, in January, on New Year's Day, on Mondays and in season enders. Both teams will have to overcome the disappointment of narrow regular season-ending losses to their archrivals that prevented them from playing in the BCS Championship Game. The Trojans--who captured a record fifth consecutive Pac-10 title this year--have played one of the nation's toughest schedules. Troy has won 55 of its last 59 games (the 4 losses were by a total of 12 points) under sixth-year head coach Pete Carroll, the nation's winningest active coach. USC--which has had an AP Top 4 finish each of the past 4 seasons (including national championships in 2003 and 2004)--has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for the past 56 games. Both teams have high-profile offensive players and stout defenses. USC's offense is ranked in the national Top 25 in passing yards and scoring. First-year starting QB John David Booty, who tops the Pac-10 in passing efficiency and total offense, has played like a veteran. Two-time All-American WR Dwayne Jarrett, who is the Pac-10's career touchdown reception leader, needs just 2 grabs to equal the USC pass catching career record. Fellow All-American WR Steve Smith leads the Trojans in catches and is 25 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season. TBs C.J. Gable and hard-charging Chauncey Washington lead the Trojan ground attack, running behind linemen like 2-time All-American OT Sam Baker and Rimington Award finalist C Ryan Kalil, another All-American. The young Trojan defense (just 1 senior starter)--featuring the likes of All-American DT Sedrick Ellis, LBs Keith Rivers, Dallas Sartz, Oscar Lua and Brian Cushing, DE Lawrence Jackson, CB Terrell Thomas and S Kevin Ellison--is the Pac-10's best and is ranked in the nation's Top 25 in every statistical category. Michigan, guided by 12th-year head coach Lloyd Carr, is making its 32nd straight bowl appearance. The Wolverine offense, averaging about 30 points and 190 rushing yards a game in 2006, is directed by 3-year starting QB Chad Henne, who is second on many of the school's career passing lists. All-American TB Mike Hart has hit the 90-yard rushing mark in every game this season. UM's trio of WRs Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington and Steve Breaston, who is also a dangerous return man, create quite a threat. All-American OT Jake Long anchors the O-line. Michigan leads the nation in rushing defense and is also highly ranked in every other defensive stat category. Spearheading that unit are a trio of All-Americans in DE LaMarr Woodley, the Lombardi Award and Hendricks Award winner and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year who has 11 sacks, CB Leon Hall, who has 12 career interceptions, and DT Alan Branch, plus veteran LBs David Harris and Prescott Burgess. PK Garrett Rivas is Michigan's all-time leader in scoring and field goals. The game is sold out, a record 11th season sellout for USC in 2006, and it will be shown live nationally on ABC-TV.