Gridiron excitement

By Sean Carroll | January 5, 2006 11:48 am

For purposes of this year’s Rose Bowl to decide the national championship of college football, Cosmic Variance had an official rooting interest in the University of Southern California, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, we recognize that it’s good to let the plucky underdogs win one once in a while, and concede that it was quite the entertaining contest. Congratulations to our football-crazy colleagues from the University of Texas.

Congratulations also to the Penn State Nittany Lions, whose Orange Bowl win the previous night extended coach Joe Paterno’s record number of bowl wins to 21. It’s a world in which magic is where we find it.

  • Clifford

    Oh. Gosh. So maybe I should not have gone off-planet after all… It could be all my fault! I wonder what else has gone wrong since I’ve been away…..horrors!


  • Josh

    It’s funny. Certainly within the media, the Longhorns were considered the underdog, but I think a closer examination reveals that yesterday’s outcome was no surprise.
    1) The only talented team USC played in the season was Notre Dame. If not for bad (read: wrong) officiating at the end of the game, Notre Dame would have won that game.
    2) Texas played, and beat, several talented teams over the year, including Ohio State, who demonstrated their superior talent to Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl quite convincingly.
    3) Texas has a much stronger defense than USC, though that was hardly demonstrated in the shootout yesterday.

    All in all, I am quite glad that USC lost. was having a daily poll ranking USC in comparison to other college football dynasties of the past (the early 90’s Wolverines, Army of the mid-20th century to name a few). Though USC has undeniably one of the best offenses in recent history (I mean, Leinart and Bush … wow), but suggesting them to be the best in all of history, as many commentators were doing, seemed to be hyperbole at best. Maybe this loss will quiet such talk.

  • beloml

    Even here at Texas A&M, t.u.’s historic archrival, there are now T-shirts that show a longhorn with band-aids where the horns are usually “sawed off” and the slogan “Today Only: Gig’em Horns.” Neat!

  • RPM

    Texas played an Ohio State team with a suspended starting QB — whether they would have beaten the OSU team that played Notre Dame is questionable. That was their only tough non-conference game. I would be hard-pressed to argue that the Big12 was a stronger conference that the PacTen this season. I think USC’s and Texas’ regular seasons were equivalent.

    Oh, and that part about Texas being an underdog is fallacy. Sure, if you look at the Vegas line before the game, Texas was a 7pt dog. But betting lines are determined based on where the bets are being placed (on Texas or USC) and nothing else. If you looked at the “expert” predictions, they were pretty well split.

    Texas won because Vince Young played a perfect game (I can’t remember a single mistake he made). He is, hands down, the best player in the nation (let’s hope he doesn’t turn in to another Alex Smith). Also, it didn’t hurt that Reggie Bush “fumbled” the ball (or tried to pitch it to a teammate while being tackled), Leinart failed to look off the safety when he was picked off in the end zone, and the Trojans didn’t keep running with LenDale White at the end of the game.

  • Nicholas

    It was an incredibly entertaining game, and both sides fought it out to the bitter end.

    All I know is that Austin is still going crazy we won!


  • Chris Randall

    Where can I get a t-shirt with the bandaids of the horns sewed back on…


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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