O/NSO - UCLA review

As Auburn tears of rain fell on southern California on Sunday, a beautiful cardinal and gold BCS rainbow appeared over Los Angeles as the top-ranked USC Trojans (12-0, 8-0 Pac-10) were officially invited to the 2005 Orange Bowl to play the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (12-0) on January 4th, thanks to a neurotic 29-24 victory over the determined UCLA Bruins (6-5, 4-4) on Saturday in the Rose Bowl.

The Obvious – As Auburn tears of rain fell on southern California on Sunday, a beautiful cardinal and gold BCS rainbow appeared over Los Angeles as the top-ranked USC Trojans (12-0, 8-0 Pac-10) were officially invited to the 2005 Orange Bowl to play the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (12-0) on January 4th, thanks to a neurotic 29-24 victory over the determined UCLA Bruins (6-5, 4-4) on Saturday in the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – When the official announcement came at 2:03 p.m. on ABC, thousands of Trojan fans went scrambling to the Internet and began the process of checking flights, hotels, and car rentals. However, the most intense moment will come on Monday when the Trojans' ticket lottery will begin informing fans of the results. Talk about your BCS pressure, there is nothing like a little national championship bowl ticket lottery to help the hypertension, especially with the Trojans installed as early three-point favorites over the Sooners.

The Obvious – As excited as Trojan fans are for another trip to Miami and South Beach, the nation's airlines are equally excited and were adjusting their prices almost hourly after Sunday afternoon's ABC selection show.

The Not So Obvious – After Saturday's Trojan victory over the Bruins, Delta Airlines was offering an Internet fare from LA to Ft. Lauderdale for $345. However, after Sunday's Orange Bowl announcement, the same flight jumped to into the $400 range. Late Saturday night, American still had some Advantage miles still available, but they were long gone by Sunday.

The Obvious – Trojan fans will now begin the process of trying to get a reasonable flight cost, a reasonable hotel cost, and a reasonable ticket charge.

The Not So Obvious – According to Orange Bowl representatives at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, the Trojans will return to the swank and ritzy Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida. One Orange County Trojan fan hit the jackpot when he decided last February to make a reservation at the Westin hoping the Trojans might return, as is Pete Carroll's well documented attention to repeated game details. Cost of the room went for $380 a night. Don't bother checking, Trojan fans, there are no longer rooms available.

The Obvious – Trojans players upon hearing their Orange Bowl selection were just as excited to learn they would be staying again at the Westin Diplomat.

The Not So Obvious – Of the glamous Diplomat, defensive tackle Shaun Cody said, " The hotel is ridiculous." Even linebacker Dallas Sartz was excited in saying you could take a bath and watch TV at the same time because of the sliding double doors.

The Obvious – It didn't take long for the wheel of the Trojans' marketing department to get into full swing of Sunday's announcement.

The Not So Obvious – Within hours of the announcements, the Trojans' bookstore was already alerting fans through Emails that 2005 USC Orange Bowl merchandise was ready for purchase.

The Obvious – Had it not been for incomparable Trojan tailback Reggie Bush, looking more and more like Gayle Sayers, and place kicker Ryan Killeen looking like the reincarnation of Lou Groza on Saturday, the Trojans' bookstore might have been selling 2005 Rose Bowl merchandise.

The Not So Obvious – Bush's performance could have been expected, but who among Trojan fans would have guessed that one of Saturday's main heroes would be place senior kicker Ryan Killeen, who hit on a USC-record 5 field goals and booted four successive second half touchbacks. The lad was on proverbial fire.

The Obvious – On the second play from scrimmage for the Trojans, tailback Reggie Bush went 65 yards for a Gayle Sayers-type run to open the scoring.

The Not So Obvious – While Bush got a key block down field by wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett and a highlight fake near the goal line, credit should be given to right tackle Taitusi Lutui with a kick-out block and a strong seal-block by right guard Fred Matua on a Bruin linebacker.

The Obvious – Prior to Saturday's game, a number of Bruin secondary members led by strong safety Jarrad Page were intrigued by watching film of Reggie Bush and wondered what his speed and moves looked like actually playing against the sophomore All-American.

The Not So Obvious – Well, they found out first-hand on his second quarter 81-yard jaunt when Bush looked more like O.J. Simpson than Gayle Sayers. "He may be running his way all the way to the Heisman Trophy with this performance," said ABC's Dan Fouts. "I've never seen a college football player like this!"

The Obvious – Although all tickets for Saturday afternoon's game were sold, the actual attendance of 88,442 was under the 92,000 predicted.

The Not So Obvious – However, Trojan fans came out in full force leaving one Bruin fans stuck behind the end zone to remark, " Look at all the red. Are we in the Coliseum? God damn."

The Obvious – The Trojans opened up a quick 10-0 lead in the first quarter and seemingly were in a position to blow the Bruins back to Westwood.

The Not So Obvious – It was not a stellar day for Trojans' kick coverage teams as the Bruins' Craig Bragg burned the Men of Troy with a 96-yard punt return, a Bruins' school record. More than any play in the game, this was the one play that gave the Bruins hope, a play that seemed to manifest the balance of the Bruins' efforts.

The Obvious – The Bruins outgunned the Trojans through the air 278-242, thanks mainly to Craig Bragg, who had 67 yards on six catches.

The Not So Obvious – Bragg graced the cover of Saturday's game program.

The Obvious – Trojans' quarterback Matt Leinart threw for 242 yards and no touchdowns, the first time in his brilliant USC career he had not thrown for a score.

The Not So Obvious – No, it was not one of Leinart's finer efforts, but he still was in control of the offense and had some receivers drop some very easy passes. When it was all said and done, Lefty had one interception while Drew Olson had two, the last one to Trojans' safety Jason Leach, sealing the victory for the Trojans as time was running out.

The Obvious – Thanks to Reggie Bush's record running day (204 yards), the Trojans piled up 235 yards rushing.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' defense held the vaunted UCLA rushing attack, which was averaging 208 yards per game, to 17 yards thanks to a major performance by nose tackle Mike Patterson, who was in the Bruins' backfield all day. The way the Trojans front was playing, it's doubtful that injured Bruins' tailback Maurice Drew would have had much success.

The Obvious – A large number of Trojan fans were cheering on their heroes with the usual cardinal and gold pompoms.

The Not So Obvious – Every time the Trojan fans with pompoms did their thing, there was a "swish" type of sound resounding in the Rose Bowl.

The Obvious – The Trojans were very fortunate that one of Reggie Bush' s fumbles was not ruled a fumble.

The Not So Obvious – It seems like when national championship teams are destiny's darling, they seem to get the breaks and there is no question the Trojans dodged some major bullets in this one.

The Obvious – First-Team All-Pac-10 middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu came into Saturday's game with a bruised and painful sternum.

The Not So Obvious – Tatupu wore a small protective pad under his uniform that helped cushion the blows. The only real blows were dealt by Lofa, who again had a killer interception in the Rose Bowl for the second time in a year. In the Rose Bowl game against Michigan, Tatupu had 12 tackles and an interception and against the Bruins, besides his interception, he led the Trojans in tackles with ten. Mosi's kid just loves playing in the Rose Bowl.

The Obvious – As expected, Trojan fans were in a state of intense emotion for the national championship elimination game.

The Not So Obvious – So excited were Trojan fans before kickoff that when Art Bartner's band came out of the Rose Bowl tunnel, you would have thought Pete Carroll's team was coming out.

The Obvious – There were not as many tickets available from scalpers as has been in previous Trojan-Bruin games.

The Not So Obvious – One scalper on the Lincoln 210 Freeway off-ramp was selling 35-yard line seats for $100 per ducat. On the Rose Bowl grounds, the few tickets being scalped were going for $90 near the end zones.

The Obvious – Parking cost at Trojan games is usually $20 on school-owned grounds.

The Not So Obvious – Parking was a reasonable $10 at the Rose Bowl.

The Obvious – Bruins' place kicker Justin Medlock, Mr. Automatic, is the First-Team All-Pac-10 place kicker.

The Not So Obvious – Although he later connected on a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter, Medlock's earlier missed attempt from "gimmie" range left a Bruins' sideline in a complete state of disbelief.

The Obvious - When UCLA tried an on-side kick near the end of the game, backup Trojan quarterback caught the ball in the air.

The Not So Obvious - Calling it the biggest play of his career, how many quarterbacks can say their biggest play was not a pass but a reception...of an on-side kick?

The Obvious – The Bruins had a number of recruits standing at the tunnel entrance where the Trojans came out.

The Not So Obvious – It must have been an eye-opener for the young studs when the Trojan fans turned the Rose Bowl into the Coliseum with their loud reception for warm-ups.

The Obvious – The Trojans used the height (6-5) of wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett to attack All-Pac-10 corner Matt Clark (5-9).

The Not So Obvious – The Bruins returned the favor in the tense fourth quarter when Drew Olson threw a 4-yard score to 6-6 tight end Marcedes Lewis, who used his basketball knowledge to screen out corner Justin Wyatt (5-10) who was caught playing behind the athletic Lewis.

The Obvious – The Bruins had three weeks to prepare for the Trojans and brought in some new stuff to try and catch the Trojans off guard.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans also had some "stuff" from Norm Chow's menu of tricks and one was unveiled in the first quarter with tailback LenDale White, who took a reverse pivot handout from quarterback Matt Leinart and made 12 yards on the innovation. In the old days, the play might have been called a "cross-buck."

The Obvious – Formidable left guard John Drake did not play for the Trojans and coach Tim Davis went with true freshman Jeff Byers.

The Not So Obvious – Byers had success early-on with the Bruins by pancaking UCLA strong safety Jarrad Page on a LenDale White 12-yard run. However, the Bruins took full advantage of Byers' youth and burned the promising lineman a number of times with brute force and stunts. After one blow block in the nervous second half, center Ryan Kalil came immediately to Byers sensing some blocking issues and probably also trying to keep Byers' head together.

The Obvious – Reserve Trojan tailback Hershel Dennis made a second half appearance against the Bruins.

The Not So Obvious – Dennis was in the game to help offset blitzing Bruins, who were really starting to hurry Leinart. Dennis is an excellent blocker in picking up those nasty blitz packages.

The Obvious – The Trojans' special teams broke down again on a fake punt.

The Not So Obvious – Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Wonder if the Oklahoma Sooners will figure it out during their film breakdown sessions of the Trojans?

The Obvious – The Trojans were flagged for a delay of game penalty in the second quarter.

The Not So Obvious – The official ruling was the delay was charged to "Number 11." Of course that means, by rule, quarterback Matt Leinart.

The Obvious – With the Trojans headed to Miami to prove their No. 1 status, the feeling here is that the last two Trojans teams have been the best in the country, with last year's group able to share a piece of the national championship prize.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans know what it means to be on the outside looking in. However, the O/NSO must tell you, this Cal omission from the Rose Bowl stinks to high heaven. Until the coaches are willing to be open about for whom they vote, it is still a good-old-boys network.. Pac-10 commissioner Hansen should have a meeting with the conference members and review their BCS application. Ridiculous.

The Obvious – The Trojans played a good non-conference schedule which included Virginia Tech, the eventual ACC champs.

The Not So Obvious – At least Oklahoma played a respected program like Oregon this season. Auburn has nobody to blame for their fate after scheduling Louisiana-Monroe, The Citadel, and Louisiana Tech. If you are looking to separate the three teams, if you believe they are all equal, the Auburn non-conference schedule is the elimination evidence.

The Obvious – The Trojans came out of the Rose Bowl tunnel in the second half ready to rumble.

The Not So Obvious – Upon returning to the field, the Trojans' Desmond Reed had one of the Trojan red flags and ran with the yell leaders down the USC sideline waving the spirit cloth.

The Obvious – It figured that Bruins' coach Karl Dorrell would pull out his entire trick plays to try and upset the nation's number one team.

The Not So Obvious – In the third quarter, Dorrell ordered a reverse to freshman wide receiver Brandon Breazell, who looked ready to make an impact had not Trojan linebacker Dallas Sartz slowed up the play and getting help in holding Breazell to a gain of six yards.

The Obvious – The weather at the Rose Bowl seemed to get colder as the game went into the second half.

The Not So Obvious – A number of Trojan players, including Reggie Bush, kept loose on the sidelines by riding a stationary bike.

The Obvious – There are many times at the Coliseum when you cannot hear the referee's explanation of a penalty

The Not So Obvious – It was very easy at the Rose Bowl to understand the referee's explanation, whose calls came out loud and clear.

The Obvious – The Trojans finished the regular season 12-0, the first time a Trojan team has done it since the legendary 1972 USC team of Coach John McKay.

The Not So Obvious – For that 1972 club, they made their final case for greatness against Woody Hayes and the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 1973 Rose Bowl, a game that cemented fullback Sam Cunningham into Trojan immortality. For Pete Carroll's 2004 Trojans, they will face the undefeated Oklahoma Sooners, who will be making their third appearance in the BCS championship. Forget the era and how they got there, the Trojans and Sooners are a match-up that plays in any decade and the country seems to be cognizant that the 2005 Orange Bowl could be one for the ages. That's no BcS.

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