Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman Texas coach Mack Brown sings the Eyes of Texas after beating Oklahoma at the SBC Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, October 8, 2005. Texas beat Oklahoma 45-12.

BEVO BEAT

Brown, Carroll are both fully aware what’s at stake in today’s showdown

Posted January 4th, 2006

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Mack Brown introduced Southern California Coach Pete Carroll to Darrell Royal this week over dinner.

“This guy won 30 straight games in the 1960s and I wanted to get you two together,” said Brown to Carroll, whose Trojans have a NCAA-best 34-game win streak.

Brown and Carroll posed for photos and fielded questions from the media for the final time Tuesday morning. The questions weren’t any different from the ones that have been asked for the last month since the coaches found out they would be meeting in the Rose Bowl for the national championship.

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“You have a day and a half-life with this football team,” said Brown, whose Longhorns have won 19 straight but enter as a seven-point underdog. “This has been a fun ride with these kids, starting with last season’s Rose Bowl.”

Ah, the 2005 Rose Bowl, the 38-37 win over Michigan that vaulted quarterback Vince Young into national prominence and placed Texas back into the elite group of national title contenders.

Brown has referenced that Rose Bowl experience several times this season, along with a 25-22 road win at Ohio State, as benchmarks that give his team as good a chance as any against USC, a juggernaut that has been trumpeted by ESPN as the greatest offense in NCAA history.

One reporter commented that the Longhorns’ 50.9 points-per-game average lead the nation, just ahead of USC’s 50 point average.

“Really?” Brown retorted with a sly grin.

Brown could top off an historic period in his career with a win here. He nearly apologized for taking eight seasons to make it to a title game, but expressed no surprise at being in this position. He confidently said his team is prepared to take its best shot with a chance to bring Texas its first national football title since 1970.

“Coach Royal and I have talked about this from the beginning,” Brown said. “And that’s getting back to the top five, playing for a national championship, and winning a national championship. Young people come to Texas and USC to play in these games.”

Carroll has two national titles already but downplayed the Trojans’ current winning streak, saying it would mean nothing without the 35th win in a row, which would match Royal’s three national championships in 15 less seasons.

Carroll said Monday’s final full practice was tremendous.

“I trust our team completely,” he said. “The preparation has been perfect.”

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