Following the official announcement of bowl pairings, Brown recalled an incident from when the Horns convened for the first time for last Januarys Rose Bowl game. The manager at the teams hotel surprised Browns 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, "Im serious. I want you to watch this week and prepare for this because youre 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 nations 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 weve been here before regardless of who were playing," Carroll said. "We have a sense of normalcy about being in this position at the end of the year. That helps us. Were 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 USCs 34-game streak is one for the ages.
"It was not until this week that I realized it was 34 wins," Carroll said. "Youd be surprised on how little emphasis there is placed on that around here. I dont really care about it, to tell you the truth. Its not anything that we talk about because it doesnt serve us in any way. It doesnt serve you to talk about whats 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 thats important to you, and you dont just give it lip service, the other stuff finds its way to a normal place. So, I dont feel the pressure mounting because we dont talk about it. Were 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 dont know if one month is enough time to prepare for SCs offense," laughed Brown, who will counter with the nations 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 were a clear-cut No. 2," Brown said. "Thats what makes the build-up so special. But, whether we like it or not, its not about the build-up. Its not about the talk. Its 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)
No. 1 - Texas - 50.9 ppg
No. 2 - USC - 50.0 ppg
No. 3 - Texas - 273.7 ypg
No. 4 - USC - 264.3 ypg
No. 5 - USC - 316.0 ypg
No. 41 - Texas - 234.7 ypg
No. 1 - USC - 580.3
No. 3 - Texas - 508.4
No. 4 - Texas - 14.6 ppg
No. 27 - USC - 21.3 ppg
No. 24 - USC - 117.3 ypg
No. 30 - Texas - 124.4 ypg
No. 5 - Texas - 155.9 ypg
No. 77 - USC - 227.3
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.