ROSE BOWL BREAKDOWN

CSTV's football analysts take an in-depth look at the BCS Bowl matchups

Trev Alberts Brian Jones Roland Williams
Prediction
I think USC will look to strike early and go up top. They'll be some Illinois jitters having not played in a Rose Bowl or such a huge environment. They'll take a couple of shots and I could see USC being up 14, 17-0 real quick. Illinois won't quite, but USC will win by two touchdowns.

Special Teams/Coaching
No one has a real advantage special teams perspective, but I'd say USC has more depth. For one game when it comes to coaching, the edge goes to Pete Carroll. He's been there and done that. I will say it will be a bit of a challenge for some of the USC players who might need to get past the helmet. This is a great opportunity for Ron Zook and his players to take that next step. From a motivational standpoint, you'd think Illinois has all the advantages.

Illinois O vs. USC D
If you're Ron Zook you can hang your hat on the fact you're a Big Ten team, one that's physical. Theye have athletes, but can they line it up and play smash mouth football? Illinois would be wise to test USC a little. The USC linebacking corps can make it feel like you have no chance of running. But that's counterproductive and I think you have to test them. Great athletes don't want to get into a four quarter banging game. They want to get out into space and make great plays and use their speed. I would not get frustrated and say it's okay to punt. The game can't be track meet for Illinois. Off of the power game then you can get the ball out to space and spread them out. USC can beat you in preparation and teams can be intimidated by their ability. That's when teams try to be something they're not.

USC O vs. Illinois D
Every offense has something they're really good at. And as a defense you try to force them to do something they're not good at doing. The problem is USC happens to be hitting on all cylinders right now. When they had some problems in the middle of the season there were injury and miscommunication problems. I think they've corrected that. I don't know where you start for Illinois' defense. The USC running backs have gotten better. Fred Davis is one of the best tight ends. I would suggest Illinois cut back a little bit defensively because USC does enough things with formations and movement that it just takes one mental error you've given up a 70-yard TD. Try to force USC to earn it. They're going to get yards and points. But you can not give up repeated big plays.

Prediction
It's going to be interesting. Lot of people say it's going to be a blowout. But I don't think it's going to be a blowout. It'll be very competitive. The question mark for Illinois is their secondary and with John David Booty clicking…you just wonder about the long layoff. I think USC can take advantage of a young, inexperienced secondary. You also have to factor in that Illinois made a ton of mistakes early in the season and if they come into this and make mistakes they're going to get taken advantage. USC's going to have too much. Too much on defense.

Special Teams/Coaching
Ron Zook has had a phenomenal year. They led the Big 11 - as I like to call it - in rushing. He's recruited all those kids - like Arrelious Benn - and he's still trying to bring that program back. If they get a victory here that would be a huge feather in his cap. But you have to give the edge to Pete Carroll, hands down with everything he's accomplished on campus. He played for three straight national championships, won two before my Texas Longhorns broke the streak. I guess I don't have you remind of that, do I?

Illinios O vs. USC D
I think they're going to give them problems. A lot of people are saying this is going to be a blowout, including Trev Alberts, but what the hell does he know? Have I said that before? Let me reiterate: what the hell does he know? I like the spread offense with Juice Williams and if they can find the magic they had against Ohio State this could be a great test for them. Williams is a good dual threat quarterback who averages 60-plus yards on the ground per game. Is he an accurate passer? No. He'll pose a threat, but I just like this USC defense. They're just so good and athletic and they can play in space. I don't think Juice and the boys of Champagne are going to have enough.

USC O vs. Illinois D
Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson, and John David Booty are all over the plethora of injuries they had from earlier in the year when Trev Alberts said he should have been benched for Mark Sanchez. But what does Trev Alberts know. I like the way the offense is running right now. They're definitely one of the hottest teams playing right now. They're running on all cylinders. The receiving corps needs some work, they're not even close to what they were last year.

Prediction
On paper, this might be the biggest mismatch of the BCS bunch. But we know how those mismatches have gone this year. Everyone is quick to praise USC and their exceptional talent, but Illinois isn't all bad. I dont think USC blows them out, but I also don't see Illinois pulling it out.

Special Teams/Coaching
I'm not a big fan of either coach, but those are my issues. Pete Carroll has a couple of championships to stick in my face and the face of all of his critics. Ron Zook got a raw deal from Florida, but can actually coach a little bit. Both teams should come in well prepared. Slight special teams advantage to USC because of their speed, but this shouldnt be a major factor.

Illinois O vs. USC D
Believe it or not, I think these are the strengths of these two teams. Not what you expect from the Pac-10 and Big Ten respectfully. USC has so much talent on the defensive side of the ball. Three stupendous linebackers and a really nice defensive front. I bet they kept Ron Zook up late at night. But they better not sleep on Illinois' offense. Rashard Mendenhall is a top 5 back in the country and Juice Williams can keep defenses on honest with a multitude of talents. I think USC might be a little too strong up front, but I think Illinois scores some points.

USC O vs. Michigan D
USC's offense has underperformed all year. They have had a bunch of different QB's rotating in and out and their running backs haven't gotten the traction they wanted - until lately. The talent difference is extreme...it seems like every top running back prospect in the nation has committed there for the last five years. Illinois has heart and will not go down without a fight. I don't know what kind of pro J. Leman will be, but he is a real nice college football player.