Twenty reasons Texas/USC wins

Updated: January 4, 2006, 6:22 PM ET

Who's going to win the Rose Bowl? Ivan Maisel offers 20 reasons USC will fight on to its third straight national championship, while Pat Forde counters with 20 reasons Texas will hook its first national title since 1970.

Reasons:  
 
Ivan -- Why USC will win

20. School songs and mascots. "Fight On" has it all over "The Eyes of Texas," which, when you get right down to it, is some stalker lyrics placed over a sample of "I've Been Working on the Railroad." I'll take Traveler over Bevo as well. Speed is everything in football, right?

19. You could debate long into the night over which team has the better offensive line. USC has one All-American (guard Deuce Lutui), three All-Pac-10 players (Lutui, center Ryan Kalil, tackle Sam Baker) and 141 cumulative starts along the front. The Trojans allowed only 15 sacks. The point? Texas has one All-American (tackle Jonathan Scott), 150 cumulative starts and allowed only 14 sacks, and its line is considered a strength. Works both ways.

18. The other guys: tailback LenDale White, wide receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, tight end Dominique Byrd. All four would be superstars if they didn't exist in the shadow of Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. White rushed for 1,178 yards and 21 touchdowns and has scored more touchdowns than any Trojan in history. Jarrett, Smith and Byrd have combined for 163 catches for 2,355 yards and 20 touchdowns. Speaking of which, Byrd hasn't scored since that one-handed how'd-he-do-it grab of a 33-yard touchdown against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. He's due.

17. Hangers-On: Texas has the Sexiest Man Alive in Matthew McConaughey, USC has the Funniest Man Alive in Will Ferrell. At first, that doesn't look like a Trojan plus, but bear with me here. When McConaughey loses the title bestowed upon him by People Magazine, Ferrell will still be Will Ferrell. Chicks dig the sense of humor, right? Isn't that what we hear over and over? Speaking of women, USC has Song Girls. Texas doesn't. Game, set and match, Trojans.

16. The Trojans' 34-game winning streak is rooted in the players' ability to focus and their refusal to look beyond the next game, or even the next snap. What others might consider as goals -- a Heisman, a third consecutive national championship, a 34-game winning streak -- are ignored. Carroll constantly preaches to his players that they give everything they have on every play. It sounds simple. The best ideas usually are.

Pat -- Why Texas will win

20. The Longhorns pass the look test. This is critical for an underdog leading up to a major sporting event. Are they scared? Is there any doubt in their eyes? Anything that says, "We're not ready for this"? The answers with these Longhorns, at least from their demeanor and attitude in the days leading up to the game: no fear, no doubt, all ready. The Longhorns might not be the better team, but they aren't entering the Rose Bowl believing that. Vince Young passes with flying burnt-orange colors. We knew USC passed the look test. We found out this week that Texas does, too.

19. No weak links. Texas is excellent in all three phases of the game. The Horns rank in the top five in 10 of the 14 major team statistical categories kept by the NCAA. By contrast, the Trojans rank in the top five in just four of those categories. USC gave up 42 points to Fresno State and 31 to Notre Dame. Texas hasn't given up more than 30 in a game all year. Texas has scored seven touchdowns via defense or special teams this year. USC has scored just four. USC is No. 115 nationally in net punting. Texas returner Aaron Ross ranks No. 8 nationally in punt returns. The trick, of course, is making USC punt. The Trojans do figure to kick off a few times. And the Horns are third in the nation in kickoff returns. All of which means …

18. Texas will win the field-position battle. Thirty of USC's touchdown drives this season were 80 yards or longer, and 45 went 70 yards or more. Texas had only 19 80-plus-yard drives and 20 of 70 or more. Thanks to defense and special teams, the Horns play on a shorter field than their opponents.

17. The hype is getting heavy around USC. The Texas players all dismissed talk about feeling disrespected. Don't believe it. They know that ESPN has been running a series of "dream games" matching USC against the best teams in modern college football history. They know that USC is a fat touchdown-plus favorite. They know that some people are calling the USC offense the greatest ever, even though Texas has scored more points this season. If there was a need for a few more ounces of motivational fuel for this game, Texas has it.

16. The unbeatable Gene Chizik. You've heard all about USC's 34-game winning streak, but the Texas co-defensive coordinator hasn't lost in nearly as long. Chizik came to Austin this year from Auburn, where he'd won 15 straight. His personal streak now stands at 27, and his defense is awfully good.

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