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Tuesday, December 19th 2006

Review Of The Season

Boy, my predictions at the beginning of the season could use some work. I look back at how accurate my predictions from the beginning of this college football season ended up.

Predicted USC Record: 10-2
Actual USC Record: 10-2
Record Picking USC Games: 9-3
Average Difference Margin of Victory*: 15.7 ppg

* Difference between predicted margin of victory & actual

I didn’t do so hot picking USC’s games. Although I thought they’d lose two games, I thought one of them would be to Nebraska and the other to Cal probably. Whoops. My picks as BCS conference champions weren’t so good either.

Predicted Actual
Big East West Virginia Louisville
ACC Miami Wake Forest
SEC Auburn Florida
Big 10 Ohio State Ohio State
Big 12 Nebraska Oklahoma
Pac 10 USC USC

Seeing as my BCS champions were 2 for 6, you can imagine my picks for who would play in the BCS bowls were a little off as well.

Predicted Actual
Rose Bowl USC v. tOSU USC v. Michigan
Fiesta Bowl Nebraska v. TCU Oklahoma v. Boise St.
Orange Bowl Miami v. LSU* Wake Forest v. Louisville
Sugar Bowl Cal v. Michigan* Notre Dame v. LSU
National Championship West Virginia v. Auburn tOSU v. Florida

*Both teams made it to a non-national championship BCS Bowl

Basically, for the BCS Bowls I went 3 for 8 for participants and just 1 for 8 for actual pairings. For the national championship game I went 0 for 2.

Finally in the Heisman race I did not even have Troy Smith or Darren McFadden finishing in the top 5. Ouch. I had Brady Quinn winning but a deaf-mute who had never seen a college football game could’ve picked that one with all the preseason Heisman buzz surrounding the Irish quarterback.

Granted pre-season predictions at who will win conferences (please show me someone who had success AND picked Wake Forest to win the ACC before the first game even had kick off), is extremely difficult. As is prognosticating the Heisman before a ball has even been snapped. So rarely will anyone ever have a “good” year, but still 3 for 8 for the BCS Bowl participants, and 2 for 6 for BCS Conference champs is pretty dismal.

There’s always next year.

Moving on from my picks, this was a disappointing year. USC, defying most people’s (and certainly my own) expectations, put itself into one of the most amazing positions in college football history. I say that with no hyperbole.

If USC could’ve won its last two games it would’ve been one of the most immortal feats in all of college football. It matters not now, but we need to understand what USC lost. Not dwell on it, not knock any of our opponent’s achievements down, but understand it.

That Was History You Felt Slip Through Your Fingers…
Not Peanuts

This is USC’s decade right now. 5 straight BCS Bowls, 3 Heisman Winners In 5 Years, 5 Losses In 4 years. But it would’ve been USC’s decade for all time if USC had managed to win when it was suppose to, and then surprise Ohio State. The Texas – USC Rose Bowl was too epic to go quietly like the Tampa Bay Buccanners, so the analogy isn’t perfect. But ask someone on the street:

The Patriots won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years. Who won the one in between?

People would’ve remembered the Texas championship, maybe even the Oklahoma championship, maybe even LSU’s split championship, so it isn’t analogous to that example above. But I will promise you, every single one of those team’s accomplishments would’ve been discussed in light of what USC had accomplished. You wouldn’t be able to reference the 2005 Longhorns as champions without mentioning USC’s greatness.

3 championships in 4 years would’ve burned so brightly, it would’ve been seared into college football mythology. 50 years from now it would’ve been remembered, when Nick Saban and Vince Young would’ve been merely footnotes.

And I am so excited to have Rose Bowl tickets, I think we can smash a Michigan team that doesn’t even want to be there. And we will be the rightful #1 preseason pick come next season. But even if we enjoy this success next year, the Trojans let an immortalizing opportunity slip away on that field against UCLA, against an inferior opponent. A chance which will take more than a shot at the championship next year to appear again. To those who would figure Trojan fans as spoiled, the above is why this season hurts. Two loses is an amazing season. But one of those loses, to a hated rival, with so much on the line (not just a shot at a championship, but history), to an inferior team? There’s no shame in being disappointed with that.

USC showed its mortality, much more than when Vince Young put on that spectacular performance to beat us. It showed its blemishes against inferior teams. It lost quite a bit of its luster. And while the task to capture it back starts on January 1st, that can only be the beginning.