A USC Texas Rose Bowl? I don’t think so

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

Lindy’s has just released their Southeastern Sports Report for the 2005 season. This magazine basically ranks every football team in the country – from Auburn University to St. Munga’s School for the Uncoordinated (who, incidentally, are predicted to have a good year, finishing just two spots above Vanderbilt and their flag football of an SEC program.)

This season Lindy’s has predicted Southern Cal to three-peat, Texas to finish No. 2 and Michigan to finish No. 3. Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ohio State, Florida State, LSU and Virginia Tech round out the top 10.

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Let’s look at these preseason rankings for a second.

USC finishes first, I can’t honestly say that I can see that happening.

Pete Carroll is a great coach and these are his recruits that are playing right now, but being a great coach is one thing and having a great staff is another. Carroll and the Trojans return Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush along with a host of receivers that are perfect for their up-tempo-style offense. The problem therein lies with the play callers. Carroll watched as Norm Chow, who basically played Dumbledore to Leinart’s Harry Potter, or for the Star Wars fans out there – He was Yoda to Carson Palmer’s Luke Skywalker, bolted for the evil empire of the NFL. He also watched as

Ed Orgeron, defensive line coach, left for the greener pastures of the best football conference in this great nation – the SEC.

The Trojans schedule is light, not many challenges. Southern Cal does have a

tradition of having at least one nail-biter in a year in a game they

should walk away with. Combine that with a

growing hat size thanks to

"the big head,&uot; they’re getting and it

could spell a surprising L-O-S-S. SC won’t have the strength of schedule to make up for it in the end.

Lindy’s proposes a USC v. Texas Rose Bowl.

Coming off a surprisingly great Rose Bowl performance, the Longhorns are the "hot pick" this season, but Mack Brown and the boys are going to have to prove they can do more than barely beat a young Big Ten team before I believe. Up until last season’s fluke appearance in Pasadena, the Horns had been ranked as the team to beat in the Big 12. This never happened as down the stretch they turned into the team to get beaten. This season if they can live up to the hype and pull off wins an in extremely competitive Big 12 South then their ticket to the Dance will be punched. I don’t see it happening though with a questionable out of conference schedule Louisiana-Lafayette, Ohio State and Rice.

Speaking of the young Big Ten team, Michigan is No. 3. The Wolverine’s are being billed as the "team of tomorrow" after being loaded with a beaucoup of sophomores. Chad Henne (qb) and Michael Hart (TB) are supposed to lead the charge from the Big House to the Rose Bowl.

Not gonna happen, the conference is to too tough.

The Big 10 is a senior-laden conference this year with a group of teams that could jump up and bite them right in the bright yellows. After facing Northern Illinois, the Wolverine’s young guns will get to test their merit against a re-tooled and revamped Notre Dame squad. But, they need to keep in the back of their minds that the road to the Rose Bowl runs right through Ohio State. Fortunately, they get the Buckeyes at the Big House and not in the Horseshoe. If any Big Ten game has national championship implications it could be this one on Nov. 19.

Finally, an SEC school and what a good choice it is. Now, don’t get me wrong I am not a Florida Gators fan. As a matter of fact I would rather watch St. Munga’s play Vandy then watch the Gators play.

Until this season – until they hired my favorite coach.

The Florida administration finally started thinking with their checkbooks and went out and got one of the best young coaches that money can buy

Urban Meyer brings his Playstion-esque offense to the Swamp at a really good time.

Chris Leak, who will serve as quarterback, feature back and running back in this hybrid-shotgun offense still has two years of eligibility left and could make some noise this season. When the Vols invade the Swamp in the middle of September, their annual rivalry game will virtually eliminate the loser from the SEC title race.

Of the top four teams that Lindy’s has listed, Florida looks like the rightful contender for the National Championship, especially with the SEC being a primarily weak conference this season. Their opponents though could be a toss up. Of the three contenders, SC, Texas and Michigan, it’s going to be a toss-up as to who can outlast their opponents. SC and Michigan will have an advantage going in without having to play a conference championship like Texas and Florida do. But the answer to the national championship riddle goes back to one simple question: Who can win the big game?

My guess is Florida and a team to be named later on in the Rose Bowl. I can tell you this though, it won’t be any of the three I’ve touched on today.

Lindy’s also predicted Auburn to finish 17 and Alabama to finish 22, two good choices for two question-mark-filled teams. More on them later.

Griffin Pritchard is the Sports editor of The Selma Times-Journal and can be reached by phone at 382-2110 ext. 740. Emails can be sent to

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