The Not So Obvious – Wasting no time after their Big 12 Championship victory over the Colorado Buffalos, Texas safety Michael Huff ignited the competitive fuel for the Jan 4 BCS National Championship in Pasadena by saying, "USC has probably the second-best offense, compared to our offense, in the nation. It will be a great matchup for us. We just have to line up and play Texas defense, and we'll be fine." Haven't Trojan fans heard this all before???
The Obvious – The euphoria of Saturday's seventh consecutive victory over the Bruins was either increased or deflated like a cardinal and gold balloon as the Trojan Athletic Department started the process on Sunday of informing season ticket holders of their Rose Bowl ticket fate through e-mail.
The Not So Obvious – You knew you were in trouble on Sunday when your e-mail subject simply said "USC Bowl Lottery Results." Last year, it was "You're a Winner!" My, oh, my, what a difference a year can make. For many Trojan fans, it was like a fumble on the goal line. Of course, Trojan fans were reminded there is always StubHub.com. Better save your holiday money, baby, this one is going to be expensive.
The Obvious – The Coliseum was filled to capacity and many of the nation's media in attendance were whipped into a frenzy over the titanicin the Rose Bowl.
The Not So Obvious – The Chicago Tribune's Philip Hersh wrote "The matchup is among the most captivating in the history of college football--two teams with storied traditions, Space Age offenses, marquee quarterbacks and the running back, Reggie Bush of USC, likely to win the Heisman Trophy."
The Obvious – The championship between the Trojans and the Longhorns will be their first meeting since 1967.
The Not So Obvious – The Trojans under John McKay defeated Darrell Royal's club 17-13 in a night game in the Coliseum before 67,705. This was O.J.'s second game as a Trojan in route to the 1967 national championship, a national title that was won in the 1968 Rose Bowl over John Pont's Cinderella Indiana Hoosiers 14-3.
The Obvious – The Trojans' defense was on top of its game against Karl Dorrell's Bruins and left the country scratching its collective heads over a Pete Carroll unit that really been scrutinized.
The Not So Obvious – Austin American-Statesman, the Longhorn's hometown rag, gave the Trojan defense another little kick in the cardinal and gold private parts on Sunday. American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls wrote "Texas has answered every challenge, every critic, every nagging doubt that it wasn't for real and didn't belong in a discussion about NCAA royalty. It clearly does belong, as one of the best teams to ever play this game and maybe — depending on USC's defense — the best this season."
The Obvious – Trojan fans and Texas fans are chomping at the bit over the anticipated national title game, and Longhorn fans seem like Oklahoma clones when comes to their team's prospects the first week in January.
The Not So Obvious – The Austin American-Statesman was getting the heartbeat of Longhorn fans after the Texas smashed Colorado 70-3 and the Trojans dispatched the Bruins 66-19. The American Statesman found one fan willing to talk on the record. "I don't think they'll do this to USC," said Bobby Lunday, 30, a UT graduate business student from Beeville. "But it's tough to call. Texas has so much offensive firepower, I could easily see Texas beat them by 40 points." Drug test, please.
The Obvious – The UCLA Bruins (9-2, 6-2) found out first hand that playing the Trojans in the Coliseum, where the consecutive home record is now 27 games, is even more difficult than two years ago when the Powder Blue and Gold was hammered 47-22.
The Not So Obvious – If ever a game lived up to what computers thought could happen on a Trojan day, this massacre lived up to the possibility. While many scoffed at the 22-point opening spread, the vast difference in talent, especially along the offensive and defensive lines, was never more evident on Saturday as the Trojans looked like the No. 1 team in the nation and the Bruins performed like the Westwood Pop Warner All-Stars. It got so bad at the end, when the Bruins finally scored a late fourth quarter touchdown, Trojans fan stood up and cheered, adding to the humiliation.
The Obvious – Heisman Trophy candidate Reggie Bush rushed for 260 yards and two touchdowns, bringing a Coronado Bridge size smile to Reggie's most famous area code. The Not So Obvious – San Diego Union-Tribune columnist wrote "Modesty restrained Bush from simulating the stiff-armed statue to be bestowed next Saturday on the winner of the Heisman Trophy. Manners prevented him from pointing out that the award has been a foregone conclusion for a fortnight – since he amassed 513 yards of offensive overkill against Fresno State."
The Obvious – Texas quarterback Vince Young had a fine game in the Big 12 championship on Saturday, but was it enough to offset Roadrunner Reggie's exclamation point performance?
The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the final statement was provided by Young's hometown newspaper, the Austin Herald-American, which had a writer in attendance in the Coliseum press box. Staff writer John Maher wrote " The outcome, and probably the Heisman Trophy winner, were decided by halftime, at which point USC's Reggie Bush had already run for more than 200 yards." The envelope please. And the winner of the winner of the 2005 Heisman Trophy is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ from the University of _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. Where's Pat Sajak when we need a vowel?
The Obvious – The N.Y. Times Pete Thamel was in attendance on Saturday and was impressed by the Trojans, especially the performance of Reggie Bush.
The Not So Obvious – Thamel wrote "By completing a regular season that could perhaps re-define the standard by which college tailbacks are judged, Bush has left observers searching for new hyperbole to explain his play, and "Pick a description - sublime, scintillating or dazzling. Perhaps dominant, transcendent or untouchable would apply. Whatever the depiction, this game left little doubt that Bush will be hoisting the Heisman Trophy in New York on Saturday."
The Obvious – Following the big victory over the Bruins, both Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush led the Trojan band in a rendition of Conquest.
The Not So Obvious – As both left Art Bartner's ladder, they both blew kisses to the band and the fans, and there was the real sense that we had seen their last Coliseum performances as members of the USC football team.
The Obvious – Junior LenDale White, showing no effects from a sore shoulder, rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and broke Charles White's career record of 53 touchdowns and tied No. 12's record of 49 rushing touchdowns.
The Not So Obvious – Hooray for LenDale White! Reggie will probably win the Heisman, but when you break Charles White's touchdown record, you are living right, my man. It was a vintage White performance. There was no dancing around the line and no real needed studder-stepping. It was pure LenDale maximizing his skills. Make no mistake about it, if LenDale comes back next year, and we don't think there's an ice cube's chance in Bruin it will happen, he and Texas QB Vince Young could battle it out. Enjoy LenDale White, Trojan fans, he is the clone of Clarence Davis, the underappreciated tailback between O.J. and Ricky Bell, of the new millennium.
The Obvious – LenDale White scored on a vintage 19-yard run in the second quarter to extend the Trojans lead to 17-0.
The Not So Obvious – White got key blocks from both tackle Winston Justice and guard Deuce Lutui. When Justice is on his game, the Trojan offense line is a Mona Lisa.
The Obvious – The Trojans almost scored in the second quarter when wide receiver Dwayne Jarret threw a left-handed reverse pass back to quarterback Matt Leinart.
The Not So Obvious –In the 2004 Rose Bowl game against Michigan, left-hander Mike Williams threw a 15-yard reverse pass back to Matt Leinart for a touchdown.
The Obvious – It seems like months again since the Trojans threw on its first eight plays against Fresno State, a game that ended in a dramatic 50-42 victory from which the Bulldogs have never recovered.
The Not So Obvious – The Trojans did a U-turn against the Bruins. Trojan offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin said, "To come out and run the first seven plays, we really felt good about our matchups in the run game." It was obvious that the Bruins couldn't stop Bush, White, or perhaps even the Trojans' Dennis Slutak, director of football operations. At times when Leinart did pass the ball, Trojan fans were screaming, "Give the ball to Reggie."
The Obvious – The Trojans established a Pac-10 record with its 27th straight home victory, erasing California's record set from 1919-23 and it was the Men of Troy's 23rd straight conference game, breaking Cal's record from 1947-50
The Not So Obvious – The metamorphism of the Trojan attendance through the past four years is almost staggering. On Saturday, it was almost like nobody wanted to leave. When Trojan fans spotted UCLA fans scurrying for the exits after another killer score late in the third quarter, the folks in cardinal and gold struck up the old Steam lyrics "Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, good bye." And we're not talking a couple of rows; we're talkin' sections. Perhaps a new era of Trojan fans has established what others in various parts of the country view as "Southern" tradition.
The Obvious – The Trojans won their 34th consecutive game, clinching the Pac-10 title as an after thought.
The Not So Obvious – The country is absolutely spellbound by Carroll's Trojans. You can talk all you want about the Irish and Miami in their prime, but the O/NSO sees the Trojans on a current level as the old Dallas Cowboys as America's team. For the most part and thanks to good character players like Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, the nation loves to watch the Trojans like fans loved to watch the John Wooden basketball teams.
The Obvious – The Trojans led 10-0 in the first quarter.
The Not So Obvious – The Trojans showed they can adjust as they moved the ball on the ground at will. Needless to say, Matt Leinart was overthrowing receivers like they were post-up players in the NBA. The pooch kicks looked awkward in the first quarter, but they were certainly of design. All in all, the first stanza got the Trojans off to a good start and UCLA couldn't and wouldn't get it done in the red zone.
The Obvious – Matt Leinart was 21of 40 for 233 yards and three touchdowns, but was obviously overcome with emotion early, causing offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin his biggest challenge.
The Not So Obvious – After the game, Kiffin told the nation's media ""He was crying through the first two series of the game. It's not easy to try to throw with tears in your eyes. So he was off. We tried to get him calmed down, but we couldn't get him calmed down until halftime."
The Obvious – Matt Leinart settled down in the second half and proceeded to throw for two touchdown passes.
The Not So Obvious – You knew Lefty had regained his composure with his brilliant shuffle pass, but some of Trojan fans lost their composure when No. 11 left the Coliseum turf for the last time in the fourth quarter. It was a touching, emotional scene that could be felt by those in the Coliseum. It was certainly one of the more dramatic moments we have seen during all the years of watching Trojan football.
The Obvious – The Bruins came into the Coliseum last in the league in rushing defense, allowing 219.5 yards per game.
The Not So Obvious – What physical abuse did the Trojans' defensive front four heap upon on the outmanned UCLA offensive line. Defensive ends Frostee Rucker and Lawrence Jackson kept Drew Olson running for his life and you got the distinct feeling that Olson was wary of the presence of the nation's finest defensive end combo. Talking about abuse, folks have been arrested for what Trojan nose tackle Sedrick Ellis did to Bruin center Robert Chai. It was UGLY, folks. It was the type of nose tackle performance that would have made former Trojan All-American Mike Patterson proud.
The Obvious – The Bruins' offense were held to 275 total yards.
The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the happiest and most relieved player on defense had to be corner Justin Wyatt, who has been burned on deep outs more than he and Trojan fans would like. Wyatt, who had the good fortune of recovering a Maurice Drew fumble in the air and going the distance, looked like the happiest guy in the Coliseum as he entered the peristyle end zone. Good kid and good deal.
The Obvious – The Trojans finished with 430 rushing yards.
The Not So Obvious – It was just the physical domination of the Trojans heralded offensive line of coach Pat Ruel, and it was the technique and precision of the blocking, both on the run and the pass. Some of the trap blocks by tackles Sam Baker and Winston Justice and guard Deuce Lutui were candidates for educational films. Defensive linemen hate trap blocks, especially by elite linemen of size, strength, and speed. The poor Bruins were given a full dose tripleheader of Trojans' ability in the pit.
The Obvious – UCLA's defensive line was undersized to begin with and it figured that true freshman defensive tackle Chase Moline, who played last year at this time for Mission Viejo High in the CIF title game, would be a focal point of abuse by the Trojan King Kong linemen.
The Not So Obvious – Moline suffered an ankle injury in the second half, did not return, and thankfully X-rays were negative. Some predicted Moline's physical demise and it happened. The feisty Moline (6-1, 275) was carted out of the famed Grand Old Lady and looked like he had kissed a train going 90 miles per hour. You can maybe out-quick and fill the gaps on occasion at that size, but sooner or later, the Trojans All-America left guard Deuce Lutui (6-6, 365) is going to eat you up.
The Obvious – Saturday's game ticket was one of the most expensive in the many, many years.
The Not So Obvious –Scalpers outside the Coliseum were asking for $300 per ticket for seats located in Section 27, Row 68.
The Obvious – There may be no more temperamental scoreboard in all of sports than the Coliseum information giver.
The Not So Obvious – Of the testy scoreboard, Arizona Republic scribe Andrew Bagato wrote "No. 11 UCLA had no chance Saturday against top-ranked Southern California. Neither did the Los Angeles Coliseum scoreboard. Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Trojans leading the Bruins 59-6, the electronic board at the historic stadium's peristyle end began to flicker. Too much input, apparently."
The Obvious – The Trojans' 34-game winning streak is the sixth-longest in NCAA Division I history.
The Not So Obvious – During the ABC Sunday BCS Selection Show, Texas coach Mack Brown, who poured more syrup on the Trojans thank an eight-year-old with a stack of pancakes, reminded the viewing audience that the Longhorns have a 19 game winning streak.
The Obvious – The Trojans 66 points were most the Men of Troy has scored on UCLA in the series since a 76-0 win in the first game in the series during the historic year of 1929.
The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the greatest legacy of this game will come at the recruiting table as the Trojans had a virtual All-America team of prep seniors watching the Bruin dismantling. Prior to the game and during the Trojan Walk, Texas star running back Michael Goodson was overheard to say, "This is really awesome." Alabama tackle Andre Smith was an impressive specimen and seemed to keep his emotions to himself. An impressive sight prior to the Trojans leaving the field after warm-ups was seeing the likes of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and others standing on the field and taking it all in. The results of Saturday's Bruin trashing will have reverberations here in SoCal and it will be of great interest to see the recruiting finality of the likes of Colton linebacker Allen Bradford.
The Obvious – UCLA quarterback Drew Olson completed 14 of 32 passes for 146 yards.
The Not So Obvious – For Olson, who had a magnificent regular season, it was a day of dodging Frostee Rucker, Lawrence Jackson, and Sedrick Ellis. The O/NSO felt that the Trojans would try and keep Olson in the pocket and did so for most of the game. Olson took a beating and to his credit kept up the competitive juices. However, we couldn't understand why Dorrell left his senior quarterback well into the fourth quarter and not giving some of his reserves a chance to play in this great rivalry.
The Obvious – Matt Leinart and Drew Olson came into the game as two of the hottest signal-callers in America.
The Not So Obvious – Neither had an interception on Saturday and neither came close to their team's passing yardage average. UCLA came into the game averaging 295.5 in the air while the Trojans came in averaging 332.1. Olson threw for 148 yards and Leinart for 233 yards.
The Obvious – Trojan defensive back John Walker, who had some shaky outings during his senior campaign, is still considered an interesting NFL prospect.
The Not So Obvious – Inside of one minute remaining left in the first half, Walker made a brilliant play in defending Bruin receiver Marcus Everett on a deep Olson throw. Walker batted the ball away and drew wild appreciation from Trojan fans. In the final quarter, Walker almost returned a Bruin onside kick for a score. It was quite an afternoon for the senior from. North Hills.
The Obvious - The Trojans lead 31-6 at halftime.
The Not So Obvious – The UCLA Marching Band's theme for halftime was "It's Party Time" and began with the stadium anthem "We Will Rock You." As they say, timing is everything.
The Obvious – There has been much discussion over the use of the Trojan tight ends this season.
The Not So Obvious – Don't tell that to the UCLA Bruins. Senior Dominique Byrd had six catches for 83 yards and sophomore Fred Davis had one catch for a 15-yard scoring reception.
The Obvious – Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan is best considered a national basketball and Boston Celtics' expert, although he does have a Heisman vote.
The Not So Obvious – On Sunday, Ryan wrote "Yes, I'm a Heisman voter, and yes, I regret my vote at least 50 percent of the time. Exhibit A: 2004, when I knew Reggie Bush was the best player, and I voted for Matt Leinart, anyway. The problem was that Pete Carroll was using Reggie as the '65 Havlicek, bringing him off the bench, as it were. I went with the starter, the guy with the numbers. This year Reggie is the '91 Jordan, and he cannot be stopped. Has there ever been a greater Heisman statement than 513 all-purpose yards against a good foe? That would be a no. Reggie ought to be unanimous."
The Obvious – Expect a huge marketing effort of Rose Bowl merchandise to hit the holiday gift market.
The Not So Obvious – As the BCS announcements were being made on ABC, the Trojans' marketing department was sending out e-mails for Trojan fans to purchase 2006 Rose Bowl merchandise. A Matt Leinart youth No. 11 home jersey with the Rose Bowl logo attached is going for $38.95
The Obvious – The Trojans were penalized for 52 yards (5 flags) while the Bruins were penalized for 15 yards (1 flag).
The Not So Obvious – For the most part, the game was well officiated, a credit to referee David Cutaia and his crew. This rivalry is not the easiest to do, especially with so much on the line. Of course, the Trojans did their best to make sure it would be an easy game to call, thanks to their prolific scoring outburst.
The Obvious – Trojan All-America receiver Dwayne Jarrett had six catchers for 83 yards and an 8-yard scoring grab from Matt Leinart.
The Not So Obvious – Jarrett made some big plays during the game that were not of the receiving variety. One of his key plays was the block that sprung Reggie Bush down the Trojan sideline for a huge 65-yard gain before being brought down by Bruin safety Jarrad Page.
The Obvious – UCLA offensive coordinator Tom Cable tried to throw a wrench into Pete Carroll's defense with some new formations of personnel.
The Not So Obvious – Early in the game, Cable had both running backs Maurice Drew and Chris Markey in the game at the same time, using Markey as a receiver out of the backfield. Markey finished with two receptions for 19 yards as the Trojans adjusted quickly to Cable's strategy.
The Obvious – The Trojans held star Bruin tailback Maurice Drew to 89 yards on 14 carries.
The Not So Obvious – Drew, whose longest run was 15 yards, found the Trojans fresh mix of linebackers a difficult challenge. When Trojan true freshman linebacker Rey Maualuga punished Drew with a third quarter fumble hit that popped the ball into the arms of corner Justin Wyatt, it was the end of any of the Bruins' hope. Drew is a wonderful back who was sealed shut by a Carroll strategy of containment. Credit the Trojans restructured linebacking crew of Oscar Lua, Collin Ashton, and Brian Cushing.
The Obvious – The Trojans led at the end of the third quarter 52-6.
The Not So Obvious – At Wednesday's WeAreSC dinner at the Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro, we asked our own John Jackson about his predicted score for Saturday's game and he truly felt the Trojans could get into the 60-point club when the final gun sounded. As for fullback Brandon Hancock's ripping comments about the Bruins' manhood in one of the Los Angeles papers, Jackson said it would have no bearing on the game after the first snap and went as far as to say there is unbelievable trash talking during the game. He said the officials just let it go as long as it doesn't get physical.
The Obvious – The Trojans used a strategy of pooch kicks and no punting in order to keep Drew from doing any damage.
The Not So Obvious – Okay, it wasn't always pretty when kicker Troy Van Blarcom cue-balled the pigskin down field, but it sure was effective. Did Trojan punter Tom Malone even have to shower after the game? When was the last time you saw a Trojan game with no punts by the Men of Troy.
The Obvious – There was no more exciting ending of a Trojan/ Bruin contest than in 1969 when Stockton's Sam Dickerson caught a Jimmy Jones last minute touchdown pass to defeat UCLA 14-12.
The Not So Obvious – So there was old Sam standing in the exact corner of the end zone where the Trojans offensive line get the kinks out. It should be simply referred to as Dickerson's Corner.
The Obvious – Parking was more challenging than the Bruin defense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – With the public local lots filled by preordered passes, it finally came to pass that private lots were charging up to $100 dollars per vehicle.
The Obvious – UCLA won the coin toss before the game.
The Not So Obvious – So how many times does a team defer and allow the Trojans a chance to open up on offense. However, the Bruins did and got away with it as the Trojans could "only manage" a field goal.
The Obvious – Saturday's game appeared to have the deepest and most intense Trojan Walk in recent years and you could tell by the Trojan players non-verbal signs they were ready to play and were quite emotional.
The Not So Obvious – Trojan safety Scott Ware came walking in hooded with his blue eyes looking like a contender walking into the ring. There were many signs being held up for players to see and a number of Trojan fans were holding cutout figures of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush that were being sold for $15 a pair. They were actually well done and worth the money.
The Obvious – Saturday's Trojan Fan Fest had an increased number of sponsor handouts.
The Not So Obvious – Target was offering a free picture with the Target dog, which had a red circle around its eye. There were free disposable cameras for patrons.
The Obvious – Advertising was everywhere around the Coliseum and there is no doubt corporations got their money's worth.
The Not So Obvious – Traffic advertising was also in the air as a plane with a KROQ sign read "USC – We Love Your Bush."
The Obvious – The Trojans gave the Bruins around 20,000 tickets for Saturday's game.
The Not So Obvious – Unlike previous games, the Trojans allowed the visitors a huge portion of Section 13-15, the closed end of the Coliseum, to be used for Bruin faithful. The Bruins' Marching Band, however, was switched to well past the Bruins bench towards the peristyle and could be hardly heard throughout the game.
The Obvious – The mascot for UCLA is a Bruin bear.
The Not So Obvious – It looked like a Central Park dog walk in New York as more than a number of Trojan fans were dragging Bruin bears on the ground attach to a rope.
The Obvious – So now we must all site back, relax and enjoy a Trojan season that has met its expectation…. for now. It's time to get out the holiday nourishment, do some shopping, wrap some Rose Bowl apparel items, and know the Cardinal and Gold are again part of the spectacle known as the Tournament of Roses.
The Not So Obvious – As the Dallas Morning News put it, "Texas made its statement. The defending champion roared back. One more month until they go head-to-head." As for the Bruins, its doubtful you'll be hearing about this past Saturday's game as a prelude to next year's contest in the Rose Bowl any time soon.