The Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi


(2) USC 38

(12-1, 6-1 away)

(1) Texas 41

(13-0, 7-0 home)

Coverage: ABC

8:00 PM ET, January 4, 2006

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

1 2 3 4 T
#2USC 7 3 14 1438
#1TEX 0 16 7 1841

Top Performers

Passing: M. Leinart (USC) - 365 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: V. Young (TEX) - 19 CAR, 200 YDS, 3 TD

Receiving: D. Jarrett (USC) - 10 REC, 121 YDS, 1 TD

Texas stands between USC and third straight national title

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- With 34 straight victories and consecutive national championships, Southern California has already reached college football's hallowed ground.

Exactly where USC's dynasty ranks among the great runs is up for debate.

Better than Bear Bryant's best at Alabama? Behind Bud Wilkinson's unbeatable Oklahoma teams? On par with Miami's modern-day championship machines.

But this much is for certain: Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and the top-ranked Trojans can carve out a spot in history all to themselves Wednesday night (ABC, 8 ET) by beating No. 2 Texas in the Rose Bowl (Presented by Citi) and winning an unprecedented third straight national title.

"Well, the very fact that no one's ever done it is testimony to how difficult it is," said former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian, who won two championships and 95 games in 11 seasons with Notre Dame. "It's almost impossible to stay in that superiority position because of the very nature of the game."

Hard rains Sunday and Monday left California drenched, but Pasadena is expected to be dry and cool by kickoff. So only the Longhorns will be left to slow Heisman Trophy winners Leinart and Bush in USC's run at history.

At almost every turn, coach Pete Carroll and the Trojans have played down the historical significance of the Bowl Championship Series title game, insisting they haven't given it much thought.

"If I did that, then I wouldn't stay with the discipline of how we do stuff," Carroll said. "It has never been a focus of our program to look at the end of the rainbow."

The Associated Press poll began crowning champions in 1936 and five years later Minnesota became the first school to win consecutive titles.

USC became the ninth team to repeat with an emphatic 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl last January.

In between, Oklahoma did it for Wilkinson (1955-56) and for Barry Switzer (1974-75). Nebraska also turned the trick with two coaches -- Bob Devaney (1970-71) and Tom Osborne (1994-95).

Running backs Doc Blanchard (Mr. Inside) and Glenn Davis (Mr. Outside), the last teammates to win consecutive Heismans before Bush and Leinart, led Army to championships in 1944-45.

Bryant won two in a row twice at Alabama -- 1964-65 and again in 1978-79. The Crimson Tide's first back-to-back championships were the centerpiece of Bryant's most successful run -- from 1961-66, the Tide went 60-5-1 and won three titles.

The Sooners won 47 straight games under Wilkinson from 1953-57, an NCAA record and eight games more than the next closest streak. But what is often forgotten is Oklahoma won 31 in a row from 1948-50.

Coach Darrell Royal led Texas to a title in 1963, but the Longhorns slipped in the mid '60s. Looking for a new approach, he brought the wishbone to Austin in 1968 and went on 30-game winning streak that included the school's last outright title in 1969.

"The wishbone was good to us," said Royal, who was in Southern California on Monday.

Comparing USC and dynasties from decades ago is in many ways impossible. The game was so different then, from segregation to the size of the athletes to scholarship limits.

"There are more good football teams today, I think, than there has ever been," Parseghian said. "I think it's much more significant today, and not to diminish past accomplishments, but the very fact that it's a different ballgame today, it's much more difficult to go undefeated and go on to win the national championship."

In the last 25 years, Miami, Nebraska and Florida State have put together long strings of dominance.

The Hurricanes from 1983-91 won four championship under three coaches -- Howard Schnellenberger (1983), Jimmy Johnson (1987) and Dennis Erickson (1989, '91) -- and changed the game by placing an extra emphasis on speed and playing prostyle offenses.

Osborne's best teams came toward the end of his career. Taking a cue from Miami, Osborne's team got faster and in 1995 he put together his best squad.

Tommie Frazier, Lawrence Phillips and the Blackshirt defense became the first repeat champions in 16 seasons by throttling Florida 62-24 in the Fiesta Bowl.

"I always felt the '72 USC team was the best team I ever saw," longtime college football announcer Keith Jackson said. "Then along came '95 Nebraska. Whoa! My word. But if these guys, if USC wins, they've got to be right there, too. You can't deny them that."

It's hard to overestimate what Leinart's decision to return to USC for his final season has meant to the Trojans. He goes into the Rose Bowl 37-1 as a starter.

"Rarely do you have everything come together, a good supporting class and that key quarterback there for three years," Osborne said. "Anytime you break in a quarterback, no matter, how talented it's hard to go out and win every game."

Bobby Bowden and Florida State finished in the top five of the AP rankings every season from 1987-2000.

Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward brought the Seminoles a title in 1993. Florida State played in the first three Bowl Championship Series title games, winning only in '99.

"I think that would set (the Trojans) apart, when you start talking about how great are they," Bowden said. "Do they belong to be named among one the best ever? Yeah, if they win three in a row."

Miami rose again, and won 34 straight games from 2000-03, but only one national title in 2001. An overtime loss to Ohio State the next season kept the 'Canes from repeating.

"We know what we have in hand and it's hard to not think about it," USC defensive end Frostee Rucker said. "Very hard."


Passing Leaders

C. Kessler69.73826395
M. Browne42.93000
T. Swoopes58.324091311
D. Ash55.919010

Rushing Leaders

J. Allen27614895.411
J. Davis1295954.64
M. Brown1837083.96
J. Gray1476374.37

Receiving Leaders

N. Agholor104131312.612
J. Smith5472413.45
J. Harris68105115.57
J. Shipley595779.81