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ROSE BOWL
Rose Bowl History
Michigan (11-1)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
USC (10-2)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
Location: Pasadena, CA
Date: Monday, January 1
Time: 5:00 pm EST
TV: ABC

Game Preview

by Mike Mitchell

Michigan leads the list of teams with consecutive bowl appearances at 32 years. Florida State is second on the list with 25, followed by Florida with 16 and Virginia Tech with 14.

This bowl game is huge for the Wolverines who would like nothing better than to send a message that they belonged in the BCS title game in a rematch with Ohio State. The last thing they want is to lose embarrassingly.

USC's loss to UCLA was the reason for everyone's consternation about the BCS. Had the Trojans just taken care of business against the heavy underdog Bruins, no one would have had to choose between Michigan and Florida.

The great irony of all that transpired is that the Rose Bowl committee got a traditional matchup between the Big Ten and the PAC-10. Make no mistake, the grand-daddy of all bowl games thrives on tradition.

It's hard to fathom USC's hiccups - first against Oregon State but, especially, against UCLA. The defense is one of Pete Carroll's best units in his tenure with the Trojans and the offense is far from pedestrian with seasoned backup John David Booty finally emerging from the shadows of Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart. A ridiculously talented corps of receivers made his first year under center a breeze in many respects as Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith hauled in 123 passes for 1,785 yards.

The best excuse for the slippage on offense - from 50 points per game last year to 30.3 points per game this year - is the departures of Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Bush and White combined for 3,042 yards rushing last year while the top two rushers this year - Chauncey Washington and Emmanuel Moody - covered just 1,195 yards.

USC will likely need to score more than a few points to keep pace with Michigan as the Wolverines can get the job done rushing and passing. Quarterback Chad Henne and running back Mike Hart each have three years of experience in the Michigan backfield. This year, Henne completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Hart led the running attack with 1,515 yards and 14 scores. Between them, they account for 11,100 yards over the last three seasons.

On defense, Michigan allowed a paltry 516 rushing yards all season. That's an insane average of only 43 yards per game. Naturally, they gave up significantly more passing yardage at 2,533. What else could their opponents do but throw?