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ROSE BOWL | TEXAS 41, USC 38 | OTHER VOICES

No Setting Quite Like Rose Bowl

January 05, 2006

There is no substitute for this.

The biggest game ever. The best game ever. The most venerable venue ever.

There is absolutely no equivalent for the tenacity of Texas.

Or the radiance of the Rose.

The USC-Texas championship game Wednesday night was hyped as the biggest game in college football history, and that's why this setting was so perfect. After all, shouldn't the best game of them all be played on the grandest stage of them all?

The Rose Bowl.

If college football had any soul left, it would play every national championship game right here at this majestic stadium where the history and heritage of the sport are handled with the same delicate care by which the little old ladies from Pasadena nurture their hybrid tea roses.

Sure, the Rose Bowl has made some concessions to stay on top, but it has made them grudgingly. Unlike other bowl games that have auctioned off their names to the highest corporate bidder, the Rose Bowl has not. The Rose is the Rose is the Rose and always will be, although it has allowed itself to be "presented by Citi" -- a credit card company.

Unlike the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, which wall-papers the stadium with countless logos trumpeting the tortilla-chip mega-corporation, the Rose Bowl tones down the sponsorship visibility, almost as if it is embarrassed by its crassness. Much like Augusta National in golf, the Tournament of Roses Assn. figures a football game in this vast and venerable venue should be enough. No loud music during timeouts. No elaborate halftime shows.

All the Rose Bowl organizers care about is putting on the best parade and hosting the best bowl game. Any questions?

If only the BCS worked this well every year. If only all championship games could be like this one. If you used your imagination and gazed up at the magnificent San Gabriel Mountains surrounding this stately stadium, you almost could see Bear Bryant, Bud Wilkinson and other legends taking in this phenomenal game from their spot on college football's Mount Rushmore.

But you didn't have to use your imagination when you looked down to the playing field and saw college football's living legends live and in color. And, now, Vince Young becomes the biggest legend of them all.

MIKE BIANCHI

Orlando Sentinel

*

Reggie Bush's parents ought to consider moving the Heisman Trophy to a safe location.

Texas quarterback Vince Young stole the show in such thoroughly convincing fashion Wednesday in the bowl championship series national title game that you half expect to hear that the Downtown Athletic Club is reconvening this morning to ask Heisman voters to re-submit their ballots.

Now we know why Young was so bitter about losing the Heisman to Bush in New York three weeks ago.

Young believed deep in his heart that he was the best college football player in the land this season.

We thought he was deluded and selfish. Now we know he was just being honest.

USC was supposed to stake its claim as the greatest college football program in history by becoming the first team to win three consecutive titles.

Instead, Young seized the Rose Bowl spotlight with one of the greatest individual performances in championship history in leading No. 2 Texas to a 41-38 upset of the No. 1 Trojans.

Who knew a man with a giant chip on his shoulder could be so quick, so elusive, so graceful.

Who knew there was still enough room on those shoulders to hoist an entire team up there and carry them to one of the memorable upsets in college football history.

Apologies to Bush, whose remarkable skills aren't dimmed in the least by his own solid performance Wednesday. In fact, that's what makes Young's effort so unforgettable. Young was the best player on the field on a night when Bush made us gasp with his own playmaking skill on a 26-yard TD burst early in the fourth quarter.

RANDALL MELL

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

*

To be honest, he sounded boastful. To be honest, he sounded conceited.

It turns out that Vince Young wasn't being boastful.

It turns out Vince Young wasn't being conceited.

He was telling it like it is.

In the days leading up to one of the most anticipated national college championship games in history, Young had insisted on calling it his "Jordan Mode."

That's Jordan, as in Michael Jordan.

That's Jordan, as in No. 23 of the Chicago Bulls.

That's Jordan, as in a man who filled his hand with NBA championship rings.

Who was this college junior who would dare compare himself to the greatest athlete of our generation? Who is this young quarterback who would dare compare himself to perhaps the greatest athlete in American history?

The junior Texas quarterback said he believed he could do what he wants when he wants. He said he believes he could take over a game with his legs, with his arms, with his mind.

"It's a mode," Young had said before the game, "that some guys are blessed with."

With 19 seconds left in a Rose Bowl for the ages, a sports nation gave witness to that blessing.

Vince Young won it all.

JEFF JACOBS

Hartford Courant

*

That "best team of all time" talk can stop now.

College football's game of the century -- short century that it is -- went to the long-shot Texas Longhorns, 41-38, Wednesday night in the sensational 92nd Rose Bowl game.

Texas now has won 24 of its last 25 games and is the proud possessor of the crystal bowl trophy, symbolizing the No. 1 team in the land. In case there is any doubt whether the Longhorns were the best team this season, keep in mind they also defeated the Fiesta Bowl champion from Ohio State.

A year ago, the Longhorns also won the Rose Bowl in thrilling fashion over Michigan and they rejoiced as if they had won the national title. At the 2005 Inauguration Day ceremonies, when musicians from the Texas marching band passed by, George W. and Laura Bush flashed them the "Hook 'Em, Horns" sign with their hands.

Now, a year later, Texas is the nation's No. 1. The Horns hooked the Trojans but good.

MIKE DOWNEY

Chicago Tribune

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