Dec. 3, 2006
LOS ANGELES (AP) - There was no celebrating a traditional matchup in the Rose Bowl - at least by the participants.
Southern California of the Pac-10 and Michigan of the Big Ten will meet New Year's Day in the granddaddy of 'em all, with each playing in the game for the third time in four years.
Both had hoped to be in Glendale, Ariz., a week later, playing for the national title. That honor goes to Ohio State and Florida - ranked 1-2 in the final Bowl Championship Series standings released Sunday.
USC and Michigan had their chances. The Trojans (10-2) entered the weekend with the inside track toward facing the unbeaten Buckeyes, but a 13-9 loss to crosstown rival UCLA on Saturday knocked them out.
No. 3 Michigan (11-1) was overtaken by Florida (12-1) on the strength of the Gators' 38-28 triumph over Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference championship game later Saturday. The Wolverines didn't get their hoped-for rematch with the Buckeyes, who beat them 42-39 on Nov. 18 in the final regular-season game for both teams.
In The Associated Press poll, which is not used in the BCS standings, Florida also passed Michigan into second, but held just a three-point advantage. The Trojans fell from second to eighth.
So USC will oppose Michigan in the Rose Bowl for the eighth time. The Trojans have a 5-2 record against the Wolverines in the game including a 28-14 triumph three years ago, when they were bypassed for the BCS title game but won a piece of the national championship.
Michigan lost to Texas 38-37 in the Rose Bowl two years ago, and USC was beaten by the Longhorns 41-38 in Pasadena last year that determined the national champion.
USC has played in 30 previous Rose Bowl games, going 21-9, while Michigan has played in 23, going 11-12. The Wolverines beat Stanford 49-0 on Jan. 1, 1902 in the first Rose Bowl.
The Rose Bowl contracted with the Big Ten and Pac-10 before the 1947 game. Representatives of those conferences played from that time until the 2002 game, when Miami beat Nebraska to win the national championship.
Pete Carroll has said from the time he became USC's coach following the 2000 season that the Trojans' No. 1 goal every year is to win the Pac-10 title and play in the Rose Bowl. That goal was reached, but Trojans had something bigger in mind as they moved toward a possible matchup with Ohio State. The Bruins foiled those plans with a huge defensive effort.
"We had a great chance to finish this thing off right and we just didn't get it done," Carroll said afterward.
"The Rose Bowl is still a big-time game we are glad to be in that and we're going to play our hearts out in that as well," USC quarterback John David Booty said. "But it is tough when you know what could have been."