The Not So Obvious – Yes, Mrs. Murphy, it was on the famed turf of the Rose Bowl itself on Saturday that helped mandate this Tournament of Roses dream come true. Oh how they are celebrating at the Wrigley Mansion, home of the Tournament of Roses. The parade, the bands, and the teams from the Pac-10 and Big 10 will make it a yesteryear Rose Bowl. The elimination of the Trojans from a third consecutive BCS national championship game appearance on the field and the vote of the college football coaches in the USA Today and Harris polls brought a dream to Orange Grove Ave. and depression to teams that wear cardinal and gold and those attired in maize and dark blue. However, take away the emotional scars and this is a pretty darn good Rose Bowl, my friends. It will mark the 31st appearance of the Trojans in the famed saucer in the Arroyo Seco.
The Obvious – The Trojans slipped to No. 7 in the USA Today Poll and No. 8 in the AP while Michigan remained at No. 3 in both polls.
The Not So Obvious – While the country will begin preparing for a Jan. 8 BCS championship game between No. 1 Ohio St. and No. 2 Florida, by the time New Year's Day comes and the healing process is complete for the Trojans and Michigan, the 2007 Rose Bowl will be a great traditional confrontation, providing the two teams wish to unleash their anger on the other. If Michigan is really just a hair behind No.1 Ohio State, the Trojans will have one last chance to show the country their perception is better than the reality they dispensed on Saturday against the Bruins.
The Obvious – The Trojans finished No. 5 in the BCS standings behind Ohio State, Florida, Michigan and LSU.
The Not So Obvious – Outside of the national title game between Ohio State and Michigan, would you rather be at the Orange Bowl (Louisville/Wake Forrest), Fiesta Bowl (Boise St/Oklahoma), Sugar Bowl (Notre Dame/LSU), or the Rose Bowl? Didn't think so. No, sir, patch the wounds and the Rose Bowl is the next best thing to the national title game. Yeah, like you really want to sell your tickets and miss out on this marquis match-up on New Years Day? Pleassssssssssseeee. It could turn out to be the best of the BCS confrontations.
The Obvious – Both USC coach Pete Carroll and Michigan's Lloyd Carr will use the time off to pump up the psyche of their teams.
The Not So Obvious – With the recruiting wars heating and re-heating, the Rose Bowl victor will have added momentum heading into the February signing period. Ask Carroll and Carr what a victory will do to their recruiting. By the time the Rose Bowl build up is underway, local and national recruits will turn their attention to bowl practices and the game's outcome, which will leave a lasting memory heading into the signing period. Michigan, by far, will be biggest challenge of the season and a victory over UM will give the Trojans a major shot in the arm in perception recovery.
The Obvious – As for Saturday's stunning Trojan upset to the Bruins, the game provided an insight into the personalities and philosophies that will be debated by Trojan fans, coaches, and players for some time.
The Not So Obvious – Make no mistake about it, Trojan fans, when Karl Dorrell hired former Pete Carroll Trojan assistant DeWayne Walker as defensive coordinator, the seeds for a crushing upset were planted. Nobody knows Carroll's system any better, both offensively and defensively, than Walker and for this reason alone, the Trojans' head coach was understandably on pins and needles leading up to Saturday's game. Plain and simple, on Saturday Walker schooled the Trojans' offensive coordinator, associate head coach, and the head coach, but where were the adjustments? To say otherwise would turn WeAreSC and the O/NSO into a mockery. The truth hurts, but the reality is what it is. On this Saturday, the Trojans' offensive minds were vastly out-coached by Walker's superior game planning and in-game adjustments.
The Obvious – Some might argue that the Bruins won the game and others may argue that the Trojans lost the game, but one aspect of the game should have no argument and that is the Bruins played to win and at times the Trojans played not to lose, especially with a national championship berth on the line.
The Not So Obvious – On Thursday, we wrote in the O/NSO "If there is one thing the O/NSO can say about the boys from Westwood is that they compete and have done so for most of the year. If there is no early Trojan knockout punch, this one could get mighty squeamish, especially with the Bruins Justin Medlock, the premier field goal kicker in the Pac-10, waiting in the wings. Bring your "A" game, Men of Troy."
The Obvious – In Thursday's O/NSO UCLA preview, we wrote "Whether this game gets down to a field goal exhibition by the Trojans Mario Danelo and UCLA's Justin Medlock, only time will tell. As a reminder, the last time the Trojans played the Bruins in the Rose Bowl, it took a masterful five field goal performance by Ryan Killeen to ensure victory."
The Not So Obvious – Unfortunately, Danelo did not have a single field goal attempt while Medlock, the All-Pac kicker, converted two (22 and 31 yards) to ensure the Bruins' victory.
The Obvious – The Trojans opened last week as 13 1/2-point favorites to defeat the Bruins.
The Not So Obvious – To add insult to injury, not only did the Trojans not even come close to the line, but with the Trojans parade of prep All-Americans littered on the offensive unit, just how could this team score just a single touchdown? It will indeed be a painful educational lesson for Pete Carroll and his staff and don't count out what Michigan will learn from the UCLA game film, as well. Well, as they say in most sports, offense scores points, but defense wins games. In this case, it was a little of the former and a lot of the latter.
The Obvious – The Trojans scored just nine points on Saturday and saw their NCAA-record streak of 63 games in which they had scored 20 or more points go up in blue and gold smoke.
The Obvious –Bruins' senior outside linebacker Eric McNeal deflected and then intercepted John David Booty's pass with 1:10 remaining in the game, thus putting a virtual end to the Trojans' national championship hopes.
The Not So Obvious – As a senior at local Serra High, Eric, 6-feet-2, deflected 17 passes as a linebacker and on offense had 11 catches for 250 yards and one score.
The Obvious – During the week, the Trojans had a number of distractions, not the least of which was a Times story on the rumor of Pete Carroll to the Arizona Cardinals and his two young assistants, Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin, commenting on their interest in the Arizona State job.
The Not So Obvious – Heck even before the Michigan State position was filled, offensive line coach Pat Ruelin print said he was interested in the opening. These were certainly distractions that the Trojans staff could have kept quiet until after the season or at least on the QT. Sarkisian said he was "very interested," and in the local papers, Carroll said he had recommended "Sark" for the ASU job. Kiffin said he as "not been directly contacted" for the ASU job, but you know how that works. However, perhaps the football gods were most angered by Carroll's Friday night pep rally comments that aired on local television when the coach said the Trojans would "kick the Bruins butts." It sure seems when things like this surface the vibes around a team tend to go south and Saturday's upset maybe isn't so surprising. Players can read, too.
The Obvious – Saturday's Trojan offensive ineptitude returned the Men of Troy to Paul Hackett statistical rationalizations.
The Not So Obvious – With the 55 yards rushing and 274 yards passing, the imbalance speaks volumes in the assessment of the loss. Compare that with UCLA's 121 yards rushing and 114 yards passing and where's the true balance? Sure, the Trojans had the larger offensive numbers, but the Trojans' ground attack, or lack of it, was the focal point of Pete Carroll's after-game anger. Naturally, Carroll protected Lane Kiffin by stating the obvious that he was most disappointed with the Trojans lack of dominance on the line of scrimmage. However,It could also be argued that good coaching puts players in a position to win and then the players must go out and execute. It is still a hand-in-hand process. Do you think that Karl Dorrell's hiring of DeWayne Walker made a difference in the Bruins' defense in 2006? Next question. On this Saturday, DeWayne Walker put his defense in position to win and the players followed the orders to near perfection. The Trojans did not do the same on offense and we offer only seven offensive points as evidence.
The Obvious – The Trojans offensive line, particularly the offensive tackles, had a difficult time against the upstart Bruins defense.
The Not So Obvious – There were no strategy adjustments to help poor Trojan offensive tackles Kyle Williams, who looked increasingly jittery after two first-quarter flags on his No. 78, and All-Pac-10 Sam Baker had his hands full as well. From the get-go, both these Trojan linemen were left on an island with the likes of the Bruins' Bruce Davis and Justin Hickman, two of the best defensive ends in the country, who have taken to Walker's system like flies to honey. The Trojans never seemed to adjust to giving their behemoth linemen any kind of help through the use of the tight end and fullback. Both Trojan tackles were being out-quicked throughout the game and this lead to a number of false starts, especially by Williams. Of course, both players weren't helped in some of the play selections from the Trojans' coaching staff. Did we see any draws? Did we see any screens? As one former well-known Trojan offensive coordinator remarked some years ago when asked how he would to attack a highly-respected opponent, "I am going to attack what they give me."
The Obvious - Saturday's game brought up again the fact that the Trojans' mindset is that of a passing team, despite the fact that the party line and statistics seem to point to a balanced offense.
The Obvious – To the surprise of no one, there was plenty of analysis and anger on the Trojans' post-game talk show on KSPN.
The Not So Obvious – And some USC insiders worry about what is said by posters on sites like WeAreSC? KSPN radio hosts and WeAreSC DVD contributors David Newbury and Darrell Rideaux, both former players under Pete Carroll, were especially candid in their opinions on the mortifying loss to the Bruins. Newbury essentially called for the firing of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and went so far as to wish that Kiffin be hired as the new head coach at Arizona State. Newbury also called the Trojan play-calling at the 7th grade level. Rideaux also wondered why the Trojans would leave their offensive tackles exposed "on an island" against the remarkably quick UCLA defensive ends. Both could not understand why Kiffin would have physical fullback Thomas Williams spilt out near the sidelines as a receiver when he was needed in the backfield to protect Booty from the Bruin rushing onslaught and be a lead blocker for C.J. Gable. Needless to say, it was not a good night for the beleaguered Lane Kiffin on the airwaves. Moderator Dave Denholm said that it really gets down to the fact that Karl Dorrell out-coached Pete Carroll, since all aspects of a game lead back to the head coach.
The Obvious – It was reported afterwards that Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett was not a happy camper and was very stone-faced in the locker room.
The Not So Obvious – Say what you want, but Iron Mike knows football and he knows a struggling offense when he sees it. He also know the talent is there to have scored at least three touchdowns against the feisty Bruins defense. Wouldn't you like to be an insider into the thoughts of the Trojans' athletic director?
The Obvious – Naturally, the Trojan players were devastated after the loss and in Sunday's Times, standout corner Terrell Thomas said, "The whole thing is bull. We're a way better team than them, but they came out here and just beat us, and it stinks."
The Not So Obvious – Couldn't Michigan have said the same thing in their close loss to Ohio State? The painful beauty of both the Trojans and the Wolverines' losses were that both teams had the chance to play their rivals. Yes, Terrell, the whole thing is "bull," but to say the Trojans are "a way better team" is a completely understandable release of emotion but it's still is and will always be about the scoreboard. There will be better days, No. 28, like a New Years Day atonement against Michigan.
The Obvious – Prior to the game, the ESPN GameDay crew of Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit felt that UCLA had a chance to win.
The Not So Obvious – Corso said UCLA had a chance because of the Bruins' pass rush and that UCLA "took Notre Dame to the last play of the game." Herbie said, "UCLA has the advantage and nothing to lose. Jarrett is the key and has been on fire. If they (USC) find ways to protect Booty, no way UCLA's backend can stop USC."
The Obvious – The Bruins hadn't beaten the Trojans since 1998.
The Not So Obvious – You would have thought that snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Cardinal and Gold would have set off a wild celebration on the field. Not so, thanks to some solid security as only a small number of fans actually made it to the Rose Bowl grass. A few that dared tempt security were wrestled down to the ground.
The Obvious – Saturday's Rose Bowl attendance was announced as 90,266.
The Not So Obvious – The overall noise inside the Rose Bowl was above normal, but the Bruin fans seemed to stymied throughout much of the game by the vocals of the huge amount of Trojan fans located behind both end zones.
The Not So Obvious – For those fans that arrived later in the morning, they were not allowed to park down in the bowl's golf course area and a huge amount of cars went scrambling for backyards of the local neighborhood alongside Rose Bowl Drive. Parking in the backyards of many homes, a common price was $40.
The Obvious – The Trojans had 329 yards in total offense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans were averaging 393.3 yards in total offense, third in the Pac-10 Conference while the Bruins were allowing an average of 302.6 yards in total defense, fourth in the Pac-10.
The Obvious – For most Trojan fans, Saturday's loss was extremely painful to watch in person or on television.
The Not So Obvious – However, in the history of this series, does this Bruins' upset rank with the depressions of Gary Beban in 1965, Norm Dow in 1966, or the 1992 John Barnes quarterback-from-nowhere victory? The O/NSO would have to say this one is more stunning in its unfolding, although the perception by some is that this is the greatest upset in UCLA history is a stretch. Beating the Trojans last year with Leinart, Bush, and White would have be an all-timer.
The Obvious – There was a moment of high drama for Trojan fans when All-Pac-10 tackle Sam Baker was helped off the field in the third quarter.
The Not So Obvious – All eyes went immediately to his replacement, who turned out to be redshirt freshman Charles Brown from Chino Hills. Baker returned after one play.
The Obvious – The Bruins scored 13 points on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans' defense was allowing 15.0 points per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference while the Bruins' offense, was averaging 23.5 points per game, seventh in the Pac-10.
The Obvious – There is no arguing that Nick Holt's Trojan defense did what it could and certainly contained the Bruins enough to win the game handily.
The Not So Obvious – One of the key plays, of course, was Patrick Cowen, UCLA's unflappable quarterback, decision to take off and run, something that surely was kept inside his mental folder after watching Irish quarterback Brady Quinn break out of the pocket and gallop 60 yards through the Trojan defense the previous week. However, Cowen's biggest contribution was not hurting his team with any real lethal turnovers or poor decisions. Speaking of the Irish, Charlie Weis' team managed to score only 20 points against the Bruins in South Bend in October.
The Obvious – Saturday's Bruins' game program featured a cover of a Bruin helmet being clutched by a player's hand.
The Not So Obvious – Who goofed? I've got to know. In the game program's center page, which lists the offensive and defensive starters, the Trojans' backfield is listed as Jody Adewale at fullback and Chauncey Washington at tailback. Don't tell that to actual starters Thomas Williams at fullback and C.J. Gable at tailback. Oh well, Jody can always tell his grandchildren how he started against UCLA and has the program to prove it. FYI, the program was $5.
The Obvious – There was little respect paid to the Bruins' wide receivers coming into the game, especially junior Marcus Everett, who had five catches for 72 yards.
The Not So Obvious – No, Everett and tight end Logan Paulsen (4 rec. for 21 yds.) won't be mistaken for Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, or Fred Davis, but then again, they didn't have to be. All they did was make crucial catches to keep Bruin drives alive and keep the clock moving.
The Obvious – The Bruins had 235 yards in total offense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Bruins were averaging 329.3 yards in total offense, seventh in the Pac-10 Conference, while he Trojans' defense was allowing 299.1 yards per game in total defense, second in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – Fans arrived early and you could smell the brats, hamburgers, and teriyaki chicken throughout the tailgate areas.
The Not So Obvious – So involved was the tailgating at the Rose Bowl, the refreshment lines inside the stadium weren't a problem.
The Obvious – Sunday's southern California headlines: Ruined by Bruins (LA Times), USC bowled over (OC Register), and Bruined (Daily News).
The Not So Obvious – Sunday's national headlines: Rematch?! (Detroit Free Press), UCLA offers U-M a chance with upset (Detroit News), and UF awaits word on title game (Orlando Sentinel).
The Obvious – Prior to Saturday's game, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco called the presidents of the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl to lobby LSU for a high Bowl Championship Series invitation.
The Not So Obvious – You would think with some much at stake for the Tigers, Gov. Blanco would have called Pete Carroll and the Trojan team. After all, the Men of Troy had more power to make things happen than the suits at the Rose and Orange Bowls. As it turned out, the LSU will play the Irish in a Sugar Bowl game that probably benefits the New Orleans area far better than a Tiger trip to Pasadena.
The Obvious – The Trojans passing attack had 274 total yards on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan passing attack was averaging 251.4 yards per game, third in the Pac-10 Conference while the Bruins' pass defense was allowing 209.5 yards per game, seventh in the Pac-10.
The Obvious – All-Pac-10 Trojan quarterback John David Booty completed 23 of 39 passes for 274 yards and the one game-changing interception.
The Not So Obvious – Poor John David, the kid has had a real roller coaster season and the regular season ends with a game-ending interception and even a unmolested slip and fall to the ground in the third quarter. Considering the amount of duress that Bayou Bomber was under almost the entire game, you can almost forgive him for the interception. However, one wonders how much the lesson of Oregon State was learned when Booty's two-conversation attempt at the end of the game was knocked down. A quick replay shows a moment before Eric McNeal's killer deflection and interception when John David is falling away and throwing off his back foot, which is a major fundamental no-no for quarterbacks. To make matters worse, the local media began speculation of Booty not being the right man to march the Trojans to a national championship and the clamor for backup Mark Sanchez has begun, fair or unfair.
The Obvious – Trojan receivers Dwayne Jarrett caught four passes for 68 yards, and Steve Smith caught six for 66.
The Not So Obvious – Both receivers seemed to be open for most of the game, but the pressure on Booty was so severe that it seemed like a blessing when John David could actually set up and look up field. The Trojans did get some get value out of tight end Fred Davis, who had six receptions for 68 yards to tie Jarrett.
The Obvious – With the victory, the Bruins now take possession for the year of the Victory Bell.
The Not So Obvious – At the end of the third quarter, per tradition, the bell was removed from the playing field and headed up the Trojan tunnel. The next time it will appear for Trojan fans will be next Nov. 24th when the Bruins travel to the Coliseum.
The Obvious – During a TV timeout with 5:52 remaining in the game, both teams assembled on the field for a "spirit rally," which got the crowd even more into it.
The Not So Obvious – The officials handled a difficult situation beautifully, citing off-setting unsportsmanlike penalties. The scene was right out of Vince McMahon WWF script.
The Obvious – On Saturday, the Trojans were penalized nine times for 55 yards while the Bruins were flagged three times for 21 yards.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans were averaging 51.8 penalty yards per game, sixth in the Pac-10 Conference while the Bruins were averaging 66.0 penalty yards per game, ninth in the Pac-10.
The Obvious – The Trojans rushed for 55 yards on Saturday evening against the Bruins.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan rushing game was averaging 141.9 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference while the Bruins' rush defense was allowing 93.1 yards per game, first in the Pac-10.
The Not So Obvious – Gable was his usual tough, aggressive self. There is nothing this kid could have done with lack of blocking he was getting. His 1-yard touchdown sweep right allowed the nation to see his quick cutting ability and his dive into the end zone showed the type of determination that resides inside uniform No. 25. Chauncey Washington looks like he is still running on eggs and will welcome the break until Rose Bowl practices begin.
The Obvious – One of the main Trojan tormentors for the Bruins was defensive end Justin Hickman, son of former Trojan offensive guard Donnie Hickman, who had three tackles and kept the pressure on John David Booty.
The Not So Obvious – Hickman is from Glendale, Arizona, home of the BCS championship.
The Obvious – The Bruins had 121 yards rushing on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan defense was allowing 95.5 yards rushing per game, second in the Pac-10 Conference while the Bruins' rushing attack was averaging 124.7 yards per game, seventh in the Pac-10.
The Obvious – The Trojan defense performed admirably for the most part.
The Not So Obvious – Outside of the Patrick Cowen's improvised runs, and boy did the kid from Pico Rivera and Bellflower St. John Bosco almost lose his head near the end courtesy of Rey Maualuga, the Trojans defense was its usually self, except for the fact the Bruins committed just one turnover. Speaking of dodging Maualuga, in the second quarter, Cowen saw the shadow of Rey right in front of him and Patrick just dropped like he was shot. Said one fan, "Now there is a kid with some brains." The Obvious – Dr. Steven Sample is the president of the University of Southern California.
The Not So Obvious – Following the conclusion of the game, Dr. Sample headed left the field towards the Trojan tunnel. It was a very grim and disappointed CEO that left the floor of the Rose Bowl.
The Obvious – There were a number of tickets to be had around the Rose Bowl.
The Not So Obvious – Most of the fans trying to unload were selling at face value.
The Obvious – The Bruins passed for 114 yards against the Trojans' defense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan pass defense was allowing 203.5 yards per game, fifth in the Pac-10 Conference while the Bruins' pass offense was averaging 204.5 yards per game, sixth in the Pac-10.
The Obvious – Bruins' sophomore quarterback Patrick Cowen completed 12 of 21 passes for 114 yards and rushed for UCLA's only TD.
The Not So Obvious – Cowen did a fine job of running and keeping the Bruins in the game and most importantly, kept the Trojans off balance with his 55 yards rushing to lead all ball carriers for the afternoon.
The Obvious – The Trojans defense had a hard time trying to locate the illusive Patrick Cowen.
The Not So Obvious – If there was one weakness in the Trojans' defensive armor it was the lack of consistent pressure on Cowen. There were times when Nick Holt's front four was close but no cigar. One never felt that Cowen was hurried into a mistake. One thing for sure, mobile quarterbacks have been the bane of Pete Carroll's college coaching experience.
The Obvious – The Trojan Walk was another large turnout of fans.
The Not So Obvious – Unlike the Coliseum Trojan Walks, the roped off area had a large opening from the "shaking busses" to the Rose Bowl entrance gate. So wide was the "tunnel," Pete Carroll had to choose a side in which to interact with the Trojan fans.
The Obvious – Pete Dalis is the former athletic director at UCLA.
The Not So Obvious – One of the fans in attendance on Saturday was Dalis' niece, Jeanine, a graduate of USC. In fact, Jeanine attended Whittier High and was quite proud of the fact that the late Bobby Chandler, a standout Trojan receiver, was a fellow Cardinal alums.
The Obvious – And finally, after the game Pete Carroll left the field to a barrage of comments from UCLA fans dressed in blue and gold.
The Not So Obvious – As Carroll ducked into the tunnel to head up to the Trojans locker room, he glanced up, raised his left arm, and gave the Bruin fans the two-fingered "Fight On" sign and you just know Mr. Pete will be more than fired up to get his charges up for a date with Michigan on New Year's Day.