Score by Quarters
Often, losing coaches talk about how the score wasn’t really representative of the game played, that it was closer than the score indicated. In the 2004 Rose Bowl Game, when USC defeated Michigan, 28-14, the winning team could have legitimately made this claim, as the final score did not accurately reflect the one-sided nature of the game.
USC sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart, the Player of the Game, threw for three touchdowns and caught a fourth, and the USC defensive line sacked Michigan quarterback John Navarre nine times for a total of 69 yards in thoroughly beating the Wolverines.
“Our football team is coming together so well, and there are just so many things I’m proud of,” said USC Head Coach Pete Carroll. “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity and then to achieve it when you get the chance. So many guys did things today that were remarkable.
“It was a classic Rose Bowl. I loved looking into the stands and seeing the people out there afterward, hanging onto the great moment they were a part of. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of USC. It’s very difficult to explain what this feels like, so I’m not going to.”
The Trojans put up three consecutive Leinart touchdown passes – of 25, 6 and 47 yards – to open a 21-0 lead early in the third quarter. Michigan finally answered with a Navarre 5-yard pass to Tim Massaquoi.
Then, on the ensuing drive, Leinart’s arm and freshman phenom Reggie Bush’s feet had led the team 47 yards to second and goal from the Michigan 15-yard line. That’s when they put together probably the most memorable play of the 2004 Rose Bowl Game.
Leinart pitched the ball to his running back, who handed it to wide receiver Mike Williams on what appeared to be a reverse. Williams, however, pulled up and hit a wide open Leinart at the left-hand sideline, and the quarterback walked into the end zone for the score.
Although that’s the type of play that often occurs in a do-or-die type of situation, that wasn’t the case for USC. However, when USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow brought it up to Carroll, “I said, ‘That’s an awesome call; let’s go for it,’” Carroll recalled.
“It is a lot harder to catch the ball than I thought,” Leinart said. “I knew I was going to catch it, though. We practiced that play at least once a day, and I caught it every time. That is the first time I have ever caught a ball (in a game), including high school.”
Michigan mustered one more touchdown to pull to 28-14, but it was all Trojans in this game. Navarre received compliments from the Trojan defense that planted him all day – their nine sacks were like nothing the Wolverines had seen, giving up just 15 up to that point in the season – as he got back up to throw for 271 yards and a touchdown.
The decisive win also gave USC the ammunition necessary to question its lack of inclusion in the BCS championship game, despite entering the Rose Bowl Game No. 1 in the polls.
“We are No. 1 in the country,” said USC cornerback Will Poole, who had two sacks of his own and another for a loss. “We took care of our part. Whatever happens, happens, but I know we got a national title under our belt.”
Fair; 59 degrees
USC – Colbert, 25-yard pass from Leinart (Killeen kick good)
USC – White, 6-yard pass from Leinart (Killeen kick good)
USC – Colbert, 47-yard pass from Leinart (Killeen kick good)
Mich – Massaquoi, 5-yard pass from Navarre (Rivas kick good)
USC – Leinart, 15-yard pass from Williams (Killeen kick good)
Mich – Perry, 2-yard run (Rivas kick good)
USC: Pete Carroll
Michigan: Lloyd Carr
In a welcome return to tradition, the 90th Rose Bowl Game featured a matchup between the Pac-10 and Big Ten champions. More than 92,000 packed the Rose Bowl to watch as No. 1-ranked (AP poll) USC defeated No. 4 Michigan, 28-14. Once again the country had co-champions, as USC was named the AP National Champion and LSU the BCS National Champion.
USC: Bush 8-41; White 8-26; Dennis 7-17
Mich: Perry 23-85; Breaston 2-21; Rembert 1-1
USC: Leinart 23-34-327; Williams 1-1-15
Mich: Navarre 27-46-271
USC: Williams 8-88; Colbert 6-149; Bush 2-42; Hancock 2-8; White 2-4; Guenther 1-19; Leinart 1-15; Smith 1-9; Kirtman 1-8
Mich: Edwards 10-107; Breaston 6-61; Avant 4-61; Ecker 3-31; Perry 2-1; Massaquoi 1-5; Thompson 1-5
USC: Malone 3-140
Mich: Finley 4-176