Run and Shoot: Trojans Rose Bowl Bound... Again

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Trojans Rose Bowl Bound... Again

LOS ANGELES -- Ho-hum. Another Pac-10 championship for USC. Another Rose Bowl appearance. Another BCS game. That's what USC has to be excited about tonight after a dominant defensive performance ends with a 24-7 win over rival UCLA -- a win that avenges last season's upset in Pasadena and sends the Trojans to their sixth straight BCS bowl game.

"There's nothing we like more than winning championships," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "I know everybody talks about all the rest of the stuff. But we don't have control of the other stuff. What we do have control of is the Pac-10."

As usual, USC still has control of the Pac-10 at the end of the season. And this comes after a stunning midseason loss at home to Stanford had the Trojans at their lowest point in years. After that loss, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Oregon or Arizona State would reach up and finally knock USC off its throne. Even two weeks ago a conference title for the Trojans seemed unlikely.

But the USC defense stepped up to play its best football down the stretch and the Trojans caught all the right breaks with ASU and Oregon losses to send its senior class off with a career full of conference titles.

"The senior class has been (at the Rose Bowl) four out of our five years here," quarterback John David Booty said. "We're very familiar with the stadium and the environment that comes along with that game. We're going to prepare like we always do."

Booty is a Rose Bowl veteran. And thanks to tonight's win, that's likely the legacy he'll leave at USC. It would have been a different story had UCLA won. Booty's had his share of ups and downs as the Trojan signal caller, and a pair of losses to UCLA coupled with the Stanford loss would have led to a very different legacy for Matt Leinart's replacement. Now he ends his career on a positive note.

USC moves on to play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl unless the Buckeyes back their way into the BCS championship game. And they got there because of their defense, which Carroll didn't hesitate to call the best since he's been at USC.

Today's performance was nothing short of dominant. The Trojans gave up a total of 168 yards of offense and at one point in the second quarter had allowed as many UCLA yards as the USC offense had first downs (14). The Bruins managed just .5 yards per carry and tallied 25 yards on the ground. Yes -- that's a decimal before the five.

Meanwhile, the USC offense picked up big chunks of yardage and scored enough points to keep the Bruins at bay the whole game. For the Trojans to beat whomever they face in the Rose Bowl, they'll need to eliminate mistakes on offense and avoid the red zone struggles that kept this game from being a blowout.

As for UCLA, things aren't so bright. Karl Dorrell may have coached his last game on the Bruins sidelines. He's faced constant scrutiny for two years and may have saved his job last season with the win over USC. There's no such luck this year -- a season that started out with Rose Bowl aspirations and ends with a 6-6 record. The Bruins will play in a bowl, but not the one they had hoped for.

In the mean time, USC gets to enjoy the spoils of victory.

"Any time you can beat the in-town rival it's huge," Booty said. "For us to be able to come back and get that win in -- especially against them -- and get that sick feeling out your stomach and mouth... It's a great feeling to get that one out of the way and finish your senior year beating the Bruins."

That's a man who sounds excited about beating his rival.

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