Brown: Our Team Will Not Be Intimidated

USC is the "most dominating" college football program of modern times, Texas coach Mack Brown said, but his Longhorns are as cool as California cucumbers. Almost to a man, his squad expects to snap the Trojans' 34-game win streak in the BCS national championship. But it's more of an attitude than a prediction.

"We think we're going to win every game," Brown said, "and we feel no different about this one."

He also understands that, from Southern Cal's perspective, the feeling is mutual. After all, the top-ranked Men of Troy boast not one, but two, Heisman Trophy winners operating the nation's top offense. They are a touchdown favorite to become the first college football team to post three-straight national titles. They are playing the game in their own backyard.

"You've got two groups that haven't lost in a long time," Brown added, "so neither group thinks they can lose."

Granted, the pre-game rhetoric is similar from that which emerged from the other pair of storied programs -- Michigan and Oklahoma -- whom Southern Cal dispatched in its two previous bowl appearances. USC has more Rose Bowl wins (21) than any other school, but Pasadena is not entirely unfamiliar to the challengers, who'll be bringing a 19-game winning streak to he Granddaddy of Them All.

"Our team will not be intimidated by the Rose Bowl," Brown said. "We just left. We won. We're going back. We're staying in the same hotel. We're practicing on the same field. We know how long it takes to get to the stadium. We know (USC) has got a big white horse and we've got a big longhorn."

It's refreshing to hear Brown depart, albeit briefly, from his customary, innocuous coach-speak. Yet, there was also a hint of an attempt to diffuse some recent Longhorn quotes that became bulletin board material out in La La Land. Earlier, LDT Rod Wright and DE Tim Crowder made statements suggesting that Texas would "dominate" the Trojan offense. Then, when reporters asked QB Vince Young if he thought his squad might be intimidated, he responded: "Intimidated by what? We have some guys on this team who are gangsta."

Truth be told, Crowder's comment was a response to a reporter's question in which he said, in essence, that the Texas defense has the mindset that it will dominate any offense it faces. (Obviously, you want your defense to carry this kind of swagger into any ballgame. It certainly wasn't there against Oklahoma in 2003 nor against Texas Tech in 2002.)

"If someone thinks we're going to dominate the game, well, no one has for a long time against them," Brown said. "What we've got to do is try to knock a ball loose, or tip a ball, or just make some plays."

The 2006 Rose Bowl features two of the most explosive, play-making offenses in college football history. The Trojans average a nation's best 580.3 ypg while the Horns are right on their heels with 508.4 ypg (NCAA No. 3). Texas leads the country in scoring offense by averaging 50.9 ppg while SC is college football's No. 2 scoring machine at 50 points per clip. So, there's no reason to show love to one unit by virtually excluding the other, Brown said with a wink-and-a-smile.

"If you've got two beautiful girls, I don't think you have to pick," Brown said. "If there are two beautiful girls, I don't think I'm going to say, 'Her hair's a little shorter' or 'Her hair's a different color'. These are two great offenses. It's hard to score to 50 points. How many times in the history of college football have two teams averaging 50 points played against each other at the end of the year?"

It's never happened. Another thing that hasn't happened too often, as of late, is Texas' ability to simulate USC's speed in practice.

"They have not played a team with their kind of speed," Brown said, "and we haven't played a team this year like our speed. It'll be two great groups of athletes out there and it will come down to whoever plays the best. There will not be a bad athlete on this field, two-deep, on either team."

Pigskin pundits concur, as the national hype for this matchup began to gradually build when both teams were rated 1 and 2 in the preseason rankings. USC coach Pete Carroll actually stated that some of Texas' 'bulletin board' comments are indicative of a program that "hasn't been here." Actually, the Horns have been here before, but it's been a while. Texas has finished the regular season undefeated, and ranked either first or second, five times in school history -- but it hasn't happened since the 1983 team finished 11-0 and was a one-point Cotton Bowl loss (against Georgia) from claiming the program's fourth national title.

Most of the current herd of Horns weren't even born then but, then again, they've become accustomed to the media spotlight as well as the cult of celebrity that surrounds the program. At the same time, the national buildup that preceded the Ohio State game on September 10 went a long way toward acclimating the team to the current national championship hype.

"The Ohio State game was talked about since the spring," Brown said, "and it was all that was talked about. It was the first time that I've been here, since we lost to OU in the third year (2000), that OU wasn't the talk in the spring and summer. All people talked about all summer was Ohio State. All people talked about before the Louisiana-Lafayette game was Ohio State. It was all the national attention because it was unique to have two teams that were that good playing against each other during the early season. We just don't have that much anymore."

The moral of that story?

"It helped us understand that all of the hype around the game is totally unimportant unless you enjoy it," Brown said. "Don't fight it and don't get nervous about it: enjoy it. I had a great time the week of the Ohio State game. I had never been to that stadium and I was like a kid walking in there like a fan. It was fun for our group to have all the odds against us because that doesn't happen very much for us. And that's where we are again. We've earned the right to be here but the odds are against us. And that's a good position for us to be in."


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