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Back in the Saddle

With USC's win yesterday against Michigan there is talk that is already stoking the fires about SC in 2007. It's easy to see why, SC's dominance of Michigan put the world back on its proper axis, SC competing and winning the big games.

It turned out to be that USC presented a few reminders of how close the Trojans were to the nation's best with a 32-18 victory before 93,852.

Coach Pete Carroll had one final nudge to his eighth-ranked team before it took the field for the 93rd Rose Bowl against No. 3 Michigan.

"Who's the best team in the country the last five years? Every time we go out, it's our challenge to prove that,'' Carroll said. "Let's make sure, with this opportunity we have, let's go make a statement of what we're all about.''

They were about a blistering passing game when they decided to showcase it, they were about bottling up one of the nation's most balanced offenses, they were about tearing the heart out of a team with relentless pressure.

SC picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and got down to business. Like I said earlier, beating Michigan exorcised a lot of demons of the their last two Rose Bowl appearances. Of course it also opened up a lot of questions of what if? But those are pointless.

This is a different feeling than last season. This off-season will be interesting to see if we can keep it going. Some have said that SC was bound to fall to the Miami Curse. I realize that we didn't get to the BCS Title game and that was disappointing but we did better than some thought we would because it was "rebuilding" year.

John David Booty has more than proven himself. He is not Matt Leinart, he is different pure and simple. Their style is different, their game is different heck, their probably about as opposite as you can get. I was one of those who criticized JDB after the Oregon State loss but unlike some I never called for his being replaced by Mark Sanchez. From this story in the LAT today it looks like some wanted to pull the switch at halftime.

In the aisles of the Rose Bowl and in the anonymity of the wide open Internet, as USC was tied with Michigan, 3-3, at halftime, USC fans were giving up on quarterback John David Booty. Bring in backup Mark Sanchez, they said. Only less politely.

But in the locker room at halftime Monday, safe among his teammates and coaches, Booty heard something wonderful.

"Coaches said we were going to throw the ball, throw the ball," Booty said. "Just what I wanted to hear."

So Booty threw the ball. On USC's second offensive possession of the second half, Booty threw four consecutive passes. He completed them all -- to Steve Smith for seven yards, to Allen Bradford for four yards, to Dwayne Jarrett for 25 yards, to Chris McFoy for two yards and a touchdown. Each ball was thrown hard and well. It was, said former USC quarterback Matt Leinart, "As if you could see John David's confidence growing on each completion. I am standing here as happy for John David as I've ever been for anybody."

That's mind boggling and its absolutely wrong. Now that Booty has a full season under his belt and felt the high's and low's he is the guy that I want to see lead this team and his leadership will be key to working with the young receivers that will be in the spotlight next season. He stepped up and took control of this team. He made the plays yesterday that secured the win, Sanchez is not ready pure and simple.

With the talent that we have, and the talent we have coming in, I can see SC being in the position and probably winning another NC within the next 2-3 years. Once again that's pretty impressive. With respect to my friends at Texas, they have some talent no doubt but they had a tough time repeating this season with all the expectations that were put on them and they a bit of an easier schedule. There are no guarantees, but I like our chances better than most.

Like I said, Back in the Saddle!