$0.02: Believe USC’s hype, but not the Rose Bowl’s | SummitDaily.com

$0.02: Believe USC’s hype, but not the Rose Bowl’s

Devon O'Neil

Seven points, that’s it? What has gotten into the bettors in this country? We’re not talking Yankees-Devil Rays, folks. This is USC, the best college football team in the USA. Yes, that U-S-C, as in Undefeated Since Cal – in 2003.Forget for a moment that the Trojans are facing an equally undefeated Texas team. Apparently, not enough of the bettors have done so. Texas doesn’t matter in this equation. In fact, no opponent could matter tonight, when USC takes the field at the Rose Bowl in search of an unprecedented third straight national title. Predictions are guesses, sure, but there have been few things easier to predict through the years than a USC victory over the last three. Considering the spread is only a touchdown going into tonight’s game, it appears we as a football-obsessed nation still have no idea how good USC is. Maybe down the road that will change and we will be able to appreciate the dominant talent and rare coaching that makes this team as great as it is. (Especially when given a month to prepare for a game.)

Posthumous recognition is a given when it comes to a team’s or athlete’s immortality. In the case of this Trojans squad, the one with a backfield that will lose two Heisman winners come Thursday morning, we will view its place in history differently once we don’t have to simultaneously swallow gallons of hype on a daily basis.On that note, USC’s hype is deserved. This Rose Bowl’s isn’t. Barring a lightning strike – literally, in rain-soaked Southern Cal – we’ll be looking at a two- or three-touchdown victory margin and a 35-game Trojans winning streak by night’s end. …No way can you play to lose in professional sports. Too much integrity on the line. (Ask Herman Edwards.) But I saw in a game last Sunday the closest thing I’ve seen to an argument you could make for playing to lose.

By falling on the road to San Francisco in overtime, Houston won the right to pick first in the NFL draft come April. The Texans almost certainly will make the one-of-a-kind Reggie Bush the richest rookie in history then. Everything worked out well, and Houston’s ineptness (which included a missed chip shot field goal late in Sunday’s game) proved greater than its will to win. Think about it, though. The goal of this sport is to win a championship. Didn’t a loss help Houston more toward that feat than a win would have? …NFL playoff picks: Giants 27, Panthers 23 … Redskins 20, Buccaneers 13 … Patriots 31, Jaguars 17 … Bengals 25, Steelers 23. …

Wow, if we really did see these guys play their last regular-season games on Sunday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame could have quite the class of 2011. Nobody has made it official yet, but the list of retirees-to-be includes Brett Favre, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders and Jerome Bettis. Of course, there is also Jerry Rice, who, per Hall rules, would first be eligible for enshrinement in 2011, as well. …In parting, Daron Rahlves now leads the World Cup overall standings ahead of Bode Miller, who sits in second. No way this will stand, just as there is no way Miller has a shot at winning all five gold medals at the Olympics in February. But there is a chance – one that grows more legitimate with each race, it seems – that the two of them could sweep the golds together. And that would be a better story than anyone ever imagined.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13630, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.

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