Rose Bowl Game Notes

Mark Sanchez shined, Kaluka Maiava represented for USC's intimidating linebackers and Damian Williams paid tribute to the LAFD. Kevin Carden breaks down all the stats and storylines from the 95th Rose Bowl Game. Look inside for the details.

Who's No.1?

While the Trojans didn't get the opportunity to play for the BCS National Championship that doesn't mean they aren't the best team in the country, and that is precisely what's wrong with the current system in college football.

"Unfortunately, there was a ton of teams with one-loss records and only two get chosen," Clay Matthews said.

One thing is for sure, the Trojans would like their chances in a head-to-head matchup against both Florida and Oklahoma.

"In all due respect to those two great programs and the great season that they've had – and I don't take anything away, that's not my deal at this time – I don't think anybody can beat us," Pete Carroll said. "I think we can beat anybody we play."

Unfortunately, we will never know.

Sanchez Shines

Anytime you make it into the record books of a bowl game that has been played 95 times, it's safe to say that you had a good afternoon of work.

USC quarterback Mark Sanchez did just that.

The junior signal-caller was the best player on the field Thursday, leading the Trojans to a 38-24 win with 413 passing yards and four touchdowns.

"He had as a big a night as ever," Pete Carroll said. "He played the same kind of football that Carson (Palmer), (John David) Booty and (Matt) Leinart played."

Sanchez tied the Rose Bowl record for touchdown passes with four, while his 413 passing yards are the second most in Rose Bowl history.

Williams Salutes LAFD

USC wide receiver Damian Williams sent a message to every team on the Trojans' 2009 schedule with his spectacular play in the Rose Bowl.

The talented sophomore, who had 10 receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown, also carried a message for the firefighters that regularly attend USC's practices, by wearing LAFD 15 on his eye black.

"This is the station that comes to our practices everyday," Williams said. "Sometimes you'll look off the practice field and they will be sitting on the truck outside of Howard Jones Field.

"They support us so much. I just wanted to make sure that they got some love too."

USC LB = Rose Bowl MVP

The Trojans became the first team to ever win three consecutive Rose Bowl's thanks in large part to the play of their intimidating linebackers.

Senior Kaluka Maiava, who has been overshadowed by Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing all year, was named the defensive MVP Thursday night after recording four tackles and two pass breakups.

"Kaluka is the type of player that doesn't get the respect that he deserves," fellow linebacker Rey Maualuga said. "People didn't think he was going to come up to the standard that Keith (Rivers) left but I think he has done a phenomenal job."

With Maiava taking home the MVP honors, each linebacker in USC's starting lineup have now been named defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl.

Brian Cushing was named MVP in 2007, Rey Maualuga in 2008 and Maiava in 2009.

"It was great to keep the defensive MVP in the group," Maualuga said.

Trojans Complete Rose Bowl 3-Pete

USC became the first school to record three consecutive Rose Bowl victories with their 38-24 win against Penn State on Thursday.

The Trojans made their Rose Bowl record 33rd appearance and captured their 24th Rose Bowl win, which is the most of any school. The Michigan Wolverines have the second most wins with eight.

USC improved to 31-16 overall in bowl games, tying Alabama for the most bowl wins.

Kaluka Maiava was named the defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl. (Paul Pinner Photo)

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at Top Stories