January 4th, 2006 , a date that will never be forgotten by University of Southern California (USC) football fans. All the talk heading into the Rose Bowl was about whether or not this Trojan team was the greatest college football team of all time. They had won 34 straight games and had two Heisman trophy winners starting side by side in Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, something that had never happened before in college football. The ESPN talking heads had come to a consensus that this team was the best offensive football team in NCAA history.
Looking back, it isn’t hard to wonder why literally everyone was overlooking the Texas Longhorns in this matchup. Texas was on its own 19 game winning streak and was the defending Rose Bowl Champion, after beating Michigan in 2005. They had Heisman runner-up Vince Young as their starting quarterback and were the consensus number two team in the nation. But nobody gave them much of a chance against what was a legendary Trojan’s squad.
Then history happened. It was fourth and five from the nine-yard line. Texas trailed USC 33-38 with 19 seconds left on the clock. Vince Young took the snap, dropped back and frantically searched for an open receiver. Nobody was open, and Young took off towards the end zone. It is a play that will forever be remembered as one of the greatest in college football history as Young crossed the goal line and gave the Longhorns the lead for good. The Texas Longhorns did the impossible, they beat the greatest team of all time and became National Champions.
It has been eleven long years of waiting for revenge for USC fans. Saturday night from the LA Coliseum they will get their chance to avenge the most painful loss in school history. The Trojans once again have been installed as big favorites, this time by 15.5 points. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30PM PST, and the game total is set at 67.5 points.
I am just going to come out and say it right up front, the USC Trojans are a much, much better team this year than the Texas Longhorns. It’s not close. USC comes into this game ranked fourth in the country, and many are anticipating a college football playoff berth, while the Longhorns lost to a very average Maryland team in week one, 51-41, after going into the game as 18-point favorites. On paper, this one shouldn’t be close, but it wasn’t supposed to be close in 2006 either, that is why we play the games.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold is a lock as a first-round pick whenever he decides to take his talents to the next level. He is elusive and has a huge, NFL ready arm. But this USC team is powered by the running game. Led by Ronald Jones II, who rushed for 1027 yards last season and already has 275 yards in two games this season, this rushing attack is going to be hard to stop. Jones is averaging 6.5 yards per rush in his three seasons in the cardinal and gold. Jones’ backup, Stephen Carr has been explosive this season as well, with 188 yards through two games and averaging an absurd 10.4 yards per carry. It is going to take a huge effort to shut down this rushing attack.
Texas also sports a high-powered running game. Averaging over 250 yards per game on the ground, these Longhorns can really run the ball. Running back Chris Warren III ran for 166 yards and two TD’s last week against an overmatched San Jose State team.
I am going to go ahead and admit it now, I am a Trojan fan. I have always rooted for the boys from Troy and am still a little heartbroken from the 2006 Rose Bowl. But in order to be a winning bettor, you have to be able to look at a game analytically and think with your head, not your heart. That being said, the Trojans are going to absolutely destroy Texas Saturday night. History aside, the Trojans are just a much better and more talented team.
USC is 8-0 in their last eight games at home and is 6-2 against the spread during that stretch. They are getting a hyped up a lot by the media, and they are backing it up on the field. They played against Pac-12 rival and multiple time season spoiler, Stanford, last week and outgained the Cardinal 623-342 in a 42-24 blowout win. This Trojan’s team is playing really well at the moment, and I have no reason to think this outmatched Texas team is going to slow them down.
I am jumping all over the Trojan’s in this one. 15.5 is a big number but USC beat a much better Stanford team last week by a larger margin, and I expect that this game won’t be remotely close. The total of 67.5 is really high, and I expect a higher scoring game, but I’m not sure that is a number I want to touch. If I absolutely had to pick a side on it, I would lean towards the under as I don’t think Texas is going to score all that much against this stingy Trojan defense. My final score prediction is Trojans 42 Longhorns 21 and a big dose of revenge for USC.