ROSE BOWL BREAKDOWN

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

Trev Alberts Brian Jones Chris Rix
Prediction
Most people are picking Michigan, but USC has more overall talent. It's a younger talent. All things being equal, it's a home game for USC. It's going to be the best BCS game there is. It's going to be one of the most fun games to watch with all the tradition. It's going to squelch the moaning about Michigan not getting a rematch with Ohio State. I'm mostly basing my pick of USC on the fact that USC lost to UCLA. When you're a program that has consistently won and then you have a stunning loss like they had, teams go one way for the other. You either tank it or you probably play better than you've ever played to prove that was an aberration. I chose to think Carroll and his staff will have USC prepared that way.

Special Teams/Coaching
Pete Carroll has proven himself in really big games. He has a knack for preparing his teams. I think USC is very young, but the Trojans have a lot of talent. Lloyd Carr doesn't really make any offensive or defensive calls. Of course, he has final say over everything, but Pete's actively involved in all the calls. I don't know if anyone has the real advantage, other than maybe Carroll because he's been in this situation so many times. But I'd say it's a draw.

Michigan O vs. USC D
One of the biggest untold stories about the Wolverines as to why they're so much better this year than last is their turnover margin. They've just been outstanding. Primarily it's because they've stuck with Mike Hart. He just doesn't fumble. He's carried the ball over 300 times and he's fumbled exactly once. To win, you give the ball to him an awful lot, and then you ask Chad Henne to be very efficient in the passing game. Hit the short passes. Take some chances, but basically it's a ball–control passing offense where you rely on your running game and play action game and hit your tight ends a little bit. Henne will have to be careful about Pete Carroll disguising his zone pressures. It's pretty important that Henne take care of the ball. If the Wolverines don't turn the ball over, I think they'll have a pretty good chance of staying in the game. If USC is able to force some turnovers, I think it could be a long day for the Wolverines.

USC O vs. Michigan D
I think a lot has been made about how Michigan's defense is awfully good at stopping the run. They also have a lot of sacks: 41 on the season. Where people go wrong against Michigan is if they don't have success in the running game, they go away from it completely and try to be one–dimensional, and that plays right into the hands of what Michigan is trying to do defensively with LaMarr Woodley and company. I think USC will have success because they'll do a good job of remaining somewhat balanced. The Trojans don't have the dominant LenDale White or Reggie Bush type of running back, but they have three or four pretty capable ones who are fairly experienced. Although John David Booty has been outstanding, I think you have to keep some balance and run at least some of the time, and I think they'll have some success. USC will watch what Ohio State did against Michigan. USC can throw the ball a little bit on first down. The Trojans can't be predictable; they need to throw on first down, and throw on running downs. With Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, those are difficult matchups for anybody. USC will move the ball through the air.

Prediction
Michigan is going to be able to run the ball and that's going to allow them to throw the ball, and I think Michigan's defense will get pressure on Booty and contain those receivers. Still they're going to have to do a better job handling Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith than they did against Ohio State's receivers. I think it's going to be a close game, but Michigan wins.

Special Teams/Coaching
You have to admire what Pete Carroll has been able to do year in and year out. The Trojans are always in the thick of things. I give the edge to those guys. Michigan's new defensive coordinator, Ron English, is a pretty good coach, but you have to give the edge to Carroll over Lloyd Carr.

Michigan O vs. USC D
I like Mike Hart and Chad Henne of Michigan. I also like the Wolverines' receivers: Mario Manningham, Steve Breaston and Adrian Arrington. If Michigan can get them going, that's going to open up a lot of things. USC has a young secondary. They got better as the season went on, but they have to contain a pretty balanced offense. I like Michigan's offense over the USC defense.

USC O vs. Michigan D
It's going to be tough. USC has those receivers who are really good. Michigan has to put pressure on John David Booty. If the Trojans can contain Lamar Woodley, they're going to have a field day. If Michigan puts pressure on Booty, then they can force him into making some mistakes. Michigan's rush defense is pretty good, although they weren't very good against Ohio State. But the Wolverines are still one of the best in the nation.

Prediction
While USC might have the "home field" advantage, but I think Michigan has too much balance all around 'that' field and the play of Henne will open things up for Hart, and vice versa. Also, I think that the Michigan defense holds the USC offense to fewer points than the Michigan offense scores on the suspect USC defense.

Special Teams/Coaching
Pete Carroll will be motivated. I saw the look on his face after the upset to UCLA and believe me his staff has been preparing for this game since his post–game speech ended in the visiting Rose Bowl locker room. USC will have a game plan in all three phases of the game (Off./Def./Special Teams), particularly on the last where I give the Trojans the advantage. On the other hand, Carr also wants to prove that his team should have been invited to play for the national title next door in Arizona. With that being said, I think it comes down to the pride and, more importantly, discipline of the players.

Michigan O vs. USC D
I feel this matchup also comes down to confidence. Michigan's offense showed how effective they can be after putting up 39 points against No. 1 Ohio State, while the USC defense had problems containing UCLA's offense, which has far fewer playmakers than Michigan. Also, balance is key – the Michigan offense has it with Henne and Hart, not to mention the other playmakers in Mario Manningham, Steve Breaston and Adrian Arrington. While the USC defense doesn't. The Trojans' defense has definitely shown its vulnerabilities this season and I expect Lloyd Carr and his offensive staff to have a game plan to exploit those weaknesses.

USC O vs. Michigan D
I feel that the confidence of the USC offense took a hit after the lackluster performance against arch–rival UCLA. If the Bruins were able to put pressure on John David Booty, I expect Lamar Woodley and the boys to be able to do the same. Michigan's defense has been solid all year long and I think they'll come in determined, having learned from their mistakes against Ohio State. They shouldn't allow USC to throw (or run) it around the field like they did against Notre Dame.