Texas, USC Edge Toward Possible Rose Bowl Match

Texas survives rival Texas A&M to stay undefeated and move closer to a potential Rose Bowl meeting with college football's defending national champions, the unbeaten University of Southern California Trojans. First, USC must get past crosstown foe UCLA. And Texas must also win in the Big 12 title game.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for sports.

The college football season is rushing, pun intended, toward a great finish. Last night, the University of Texas gave Texas A&M the old one, two. The Longhorns came out on top with 40-to-29 win over the other guys. They like yellow roses in Texas, but they're apparently going to be willing to settle for red in the national championship Rose Bowl game in January. Next Saturday, of course, University of Southern California, the top-ranked team in the BCS standings, meets cross-town rival UCLA. Either team, or Penn State, would be more than happy to make the trip to Pasadena.

Our sports commentator Ron Rapoport joins us from Chicago. Ron, thanks for being with us.

RON RAPOPORT reporting:

Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: It wasn't the best game the Longhorns have had, really, since early in the season. They were trailing until the third quarter. But they found a way to win it.

RAPOPORT: Well, that cheering you heard when the game wound down, Scott, was from the executives of the Bowl Championship Series, whose hopes for a nice, clean, uncomplicated championship game between the only two unbeaten teams in the country in the Rose Bowl are still alive after Texas had a little more trouble with Texas A&M than they were supposed to. It shouldn't have been that close. Just as USC's win over Fresno State last week where they trailed at halftime...

SIMON: Yes.

RAPOPORT: ...shouldn't have been that close either.

SIMON: Fresno State, very impressive team, aren't they?

RAPOPORT: Very good. Yeah, you know, they--USC and Texas have been the best teams in the country since the season began. And it--if they stay unbeaten--and they both have one tough game left. I mean, Texas still has to play in the Big 12 championship game, and USC has to play UCLA, which has played very well at times this year. But if they stay unbeaten, then you don't have the quarrels and the complaining and the, you know, whining about who should be in the bowl championship game this year. It'll be pretty simple.

SIMON: Speaking about complaining and whining, there were a lot of people who had Joe Paterno(ph) practically on a canoe down the Schuylkill River, and here he is at the age of 79 with just a terrific season.

RAPOPORT: Well, maybe his best team, and certainly, in a very long time, maybe the best ever. Only one loss, undefeated in the Big Ten, which is a very tough conference, and if either USC or Texas stumble, it's possible to imagine a scenario in which Penn State could go to the championship game. That might--you know, that would be a wonderful thing.

SIMON: He's so inspiring, you know. It makes Dan Schorr want to come out of retirement as a college coach and find a team. Yeah.

RAPOPORT: You know, we're going to get the two of them together, Scott, with Jack McKeon and they could all have a ball talking about things.

SIMON: Let me ask you about the Heisman.

RAPOPORT: Yeah.

SIMON: 'Cause this, too, seems to be headed toward the USC and Texas showdown--Reggie Bush of University of Southern California and Vince Young, the Texas Longhorn quarterback.

RAPOPORT: Well, now the ballots have to be in before that game would be played. They have to be in next month and in--next month. And my ballot has already gone in, actually. USC--Reggie Bush of USC just wrapped it up with that sensational game against Fresno State, 294 yards rushing, 513 total yards. While Vince Young, yesterday, played not so well against Texas A&M. I think Reggie Bush is going to win this thing, and it's kind of funny. Vince Young will be second and Matt Leinart of USC, who won last year's Heisman...

SIMON: Yeah.

RAPOPORT: ...is probably going to be third. Quite a remarkable accomplishment.

SIMON: Our sports commentator Ron Rapoport, who's also a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Nice talking to you again.

RAPOPORT: Thanks, Scott.

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