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JERRY CROWE

Text messages from press row . . .

December 06, 2007|JERRY CROWE

It seems to be conventional wisdom that USC's Oct. 6 loss to Stanford cost the Trojans a chance to play for the national championship. . . .

But if the Trojans had won at Oregon three weeks later -- behind backup quarterback Mark Sanchez, no less -- wouldn't Pete Carroll & Co. be preparing for a Jan. 7 game against Big Ten Conference champion Ohio State in New Orleans instead of a Jan. 1 game against Big Ten also-ran Illinois in the Rose Bowl? . . .

It was the second loss that truly sank the Trojans. . . .

USC, by the way, is a 13-point pick over the Illini, making Sedrick Ellis and the Trojans the most prohibitive favorites of this bowl season. . . .

Coach Ron Zook and the Illini were 2-10 last season. . . .

John David Booty, who sat out three games because of a broken finger, is not the first Southland quarterback to go from preseason Heisman Trophy hopeful to being left off the All-Pacific 10 Conference first and second teams. . . .

The same thing happened to Troy Aikman in 1988, though he was a consensus All-American and would be the No. 1 pick in the 1989 NFL draft. . . .

If the alliance between the Pac-10 and the Big Ten is so special, why is it that the conferences' most storied basketball teams rarely play each other? . . .

UCLA and Indiana have won a combined 16 NCAA basketball championships -- the Bruins, of course, have won a record 11 -- yet Indiana has never played in Pauley Pavilion and UCLA has not played at Indiana since 1956. . . .

Losing out on Miguel Cabrera could prove more detrimental to the Angels than the Dodgers because, with Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis landing in Detroit, that's one more obstacle standing between the Angels and the World Series. . . .

Nearly 55,000 basketball fans turned out on a hoop-filled Sunday in Los Angeles to see USC lose to Kansas, UCLA lose to Texas, the Clippers lose to the Indiana Pacers and the Lakers lose to the Orlando Magic. . . .

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers drew the biggest crowd, 18,997 at Staples Center, and lost by the widest margin, 104-97, to Dwight Howard's Magic. . . .

BTW, Lakers rookie Javaris Crittenton was a high school teammate of Howard's at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. . . .

The New England Patriots' close call against the Baltimore Ravens might serve them better in the long run than all those early-season blowouts. . . .

That's their hope, anyway. . . .

Nicknamed "Jefferson Airplane" by Fox analyst and former UCLA All-American Marques Johnson, USC freshman Davon Jefferson showed why with a monster dunk Tuesday night in the Trojans' overtime loss to second-ranked Memphis. . . .

He could have used a surrealistic pillow to land on. . . .

D.J. Augustin of Texas, who scored 19 points on eight-for-15 shooting in Sunday's victory over UCLA, scored only six points and missed seven of eight shots in the Longhorns' 87-68 NCAA tournament loss to USC last March. . . .

Suggested set list for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' halftime gig at the Super Bowl, especially if Randy Moss and the Patriots are there: "Runnin' Down a Dream," "I Won't Back Down" and, of course, "Into the Great Wide Open." . . .

Note to Pete Sampras, nominated by Entertainment Weekly to land a spot on "Dancing with the Stars" next year: If you go back into training, take another crack at Roger Federer on grass rather than chase a cheesy reality-show title that was shared this year by two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves. . . .

Several readers called and e-mailed to challenge the assertion that Roman Gabriel was the greatest quarterback in Los Angeles Rams history, pointing out that Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. . . .

Also, unlike Gabriel, Waterfield and Van Brocklin won championships, memorably combining in 1951 to lead the L.A. Rams to their only NFL title. . . .

Van Brocklin, by the way, also was the only quarterback to defeat Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers in a title game, helping the Philadelphia Eagles to a 17-13 victory in the 1960 NFL championship game at Philadelphia. . . .

All of which brings to mind a late-in-life quote from Van Brocklin after he had a brain tumor removed, claiming that he'd had a transplant: "They gave me a sportswriter's brain, to make sure I got one that hadn't been used."

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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