Brown, Carroll's First Date Will Be Rosey

The BCS national championship game in The Granddaddy of Them All has the makings for one of the grandest title bouts in college football history. For the first time, Texas coach Mack Brown and USC coach Pete Carroll talked Sunday about the showdown that everybody’s been talking about since August.

"They have the No. 1 team in the country and they’ve blown people out right and left," Brown said. "It will be a tremendous challenge for us. For Texas to have not been in the national championship game for 36 years, and to see where Pete has brought their program for the last three years, that’s where we want to be. A huge step for us last year was playing Michigan. It had a huge build-up even though it wasn’t the national championship game, but we feel like that will help us in this one."

Following the official announcement of bowl pairings, Brown recalled an incident from when the Horns convened for the first time for last January’s Rose Bowl game. The manager at the team’s hotel surprised Brown’s bunch by making this prediction: "This is a week in preparation for your national championship game next year." The players laughed, and so he continued, "I’m serious. I want you to watch this week and prepare for this because you’re coming back."

For the first time in BCS history, the top two preseason teams posted perfect 12-0 slates and will meet for the national championship. It pits the nation’s top two scoring offenses and the top two winningest Division-I programs of the past two seasons. It will also likely showcase two Heisman winners and a Southern Cal team that has a chance to become the first university to post three straight football championships.

"The advantage is that we’ve been here before regardless of who we’re playing," Carroll said. "We have a sense of normalcy about being in this position at the end of the year. That helps us. We’re comfortable here."

No college football team can match Texas’ 82-19 mark during the past five seasons while its current 19-game win streak is the second-longest in school history. But USC’s 34-game streak is one for the ages.

"It was not until this week that I realized it was 34 wins," Carroll said. "You’d be surprised on how little emphasis there is placed on that around here. I don’t really care about it, to tell you the truth. It’s not anything that we talk about because it doesn’t serve us in any way. It doesn’t serve you to talk about what’s happened in the past. Our players think that way also. The amount of pressure that builds is there if you allow it to affect you. What we do is worry about having a really good Monday practice and then a good Tuesday practice. If that’s important to you, and you don’t just give it lip service, the other stuff finds its way to a normal place. So, I don’t feel the pressure mounting because we don’t talk about it. We’re just trying to win the next game."

The Rose Bowl typically concludes with celebratory fireworks but most of the explosives will be on the field come January 4. These are two monster offenses ignited by Heisman-caliber playmakers. Texas’ 50.9 points-per-game led the nation in 2005 while Southern Cal was right behind, averaging 50 points. The Trojans led the nation in total offense with 580.3 ypg; Texas is No. 3 nationally by averaging a school-record 508.4 yards of real estate.

"I don’t know if one month is enough time to prepare for SC’s offense," laughed Brown, who will counter with the nation’s No. 6 defense (280.3 ypg).

Brown is in New York this week attending the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Banquet (former Longhorn All-American RB Roosevelt Leaks will be inducted Tuesday*). The eighth-year UT coach will, of course, be on hand for the Heisman Trophy presentation this Saturday.

"I feel like they are the No. 1 team in the country and that we’re a clear-cut No. 2," Brown said. "That’s what makes the build-up so special. But, whether we like it or not, it’s not about the build-up. It’s not about the talk. It’s about performing."

The Horns begin Rose Bowl preparation next weekend and depart for California on December 28.

TEXAS — USC: BY THE NUMBERS

(NCAA RANKING — TEAM — AVERAGE)

SCORING OFFENSE
No. 1 - Texas - 50.9 ppg
No. 2 - USC - 50.0 ppg

RUSHING OFFENSE
No. 3 - Texas - 273.7 ypg
No. 4 - USC - 264.3 ypg

PASSING OFFENSE
No. 5 - USC - 316.0 ypg
No. 41 - Texas - 234.7 ypg

TOTAL OFFENSE
No. 1 - USC - 580.3
No. 3 - Texas - 508.4

SCORING DEFENSE
No. 4 - Texas - 14.6 ppg
No. 27 - USC - 21.3 ppg

RUSHING DEFENSE
No. 24 - USC - 117.3 ypg
No. 30 - Texas - 124.4 ypg

PASS DEFENSE
No. 5 - Texas - 155.9 ypg
No. 77 - USC - 227.3

TOTAL DEFENSE
No. 6 - Texas - 280.3
No. 39 - USC - 344.7

*Roosevelt Leaks is featured in the January edition of the Inside Texas magazine, which will be mailed to subscribers later this month and will be on newstands throughout Texas during the month of January. If you are a monthly subscriber, you can receive the magazine plus all of your current benfits by upgrading your subscription to the annual Total Access Pass. Click here for details.


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