Young, Texas Have More Byte
What better way to pay tribute to this era of computer rankings and bowl championship series standings than pre-playing the most anticipated game in BCS history on a computer?
The Times asked the people at Whatifsports.com, an Internet site that specializes in sports replays, to simulate today’s Rose Bowl matchup between top-ranked USC and No. 2 Texas -- 50 times.
One team won 36 of the 50 simulated games, its most representative victory recapped below.
Unlike most video games, in which teams often score more than 100 points in a game and good running backs can gain more than 700 yards, whatifsports.com uses a different type of game engine.
Quarterbacks are rated on completion percentage, yards per attempt, attempts per game, interceptions per attempt, rush attempts per game, yards per rush.
Running backs and receivers are rated on attempts per game, yards per rush, receptions per game, yards per reception
Defense is rated on rushing yards per attempt against, completion percentage and yards per attempt against, sacks per passing attempt against, interceptions per passing attempt against, total yards given up from scrimmage and points allowed.
Ratings were multiplied by a factor based on a team’s strength of schedule, record and a subjective conference rating -- Texas’ by 1.09, USC’s by 1.10.
On to the 2006 Pretend Rose Bowl:
First quarter: The simulated crowd is on its feet for the kickoff. The temperature at the Rose Bowl is 56 degrees, clear sky, with no wind to speak of. USC wins the toss and elects to receive.
Starting their drive at their 32, the Trojans quickly move the ball, helped by a 20-yard reception by Dwayne Jarrett. On first and 10 from the 11, Matt Leinart finds Steve Smith in the end zone for a touchdown. The Trojans jump on top, 7-0.
Later, taking over at their own 39, the Trojans score again when Leinart and Jarrett hook up for 17 yards, Reggie Bush runs for nine yards on a draw play, then takes the next handoff and races around the left side untouched into the end zone for a touchdown.
Mario Danelo misses the extra point, so the score is USC 13, Texas 0.
Late in the quarter, Texas blocks a USC punt and recovers on the Trojan 12. Vince Young completes a touchdown pass to David Thomas on the next play to bring Texas within six points.
Score after first quarter: USC 13, Texas 7.
Second quarter: Texas takes its first lead of the game, 14-13, after a 22-yard touchdown run by Henry Melton, then extends its advantage to 21-13 after a scoring drive highlighted by a 28-yard reception by Quan Cosby and a 30-yard play from Young to Limas Sweed.
USC cuts into its deficit on a 35-yard field goal by Danelo as the half ends.
Score at halftime: Texas 21, USC 16.
Third quarter: We wait while Texas tries to get the simulated Bevo off the field.
Texas gets the ball to start the half, and on first and 10 from the 45, Taylor picks up 55 yards on a draw play and Texas takes a 28-16 lead.
Midway through the quarter, USC gets back in the game on a 64-yard run by LenDale White. Texas’ lead is now 28-23.
But on the next drive, Texas chews almost six minutes off the clock and scores on a six-yard run by Young.
USC has the ball on its 37 as the quarter ends. Do the Trojans have another comeback left in them?
Score after third quarter: Texas 35, USC 23.
Fourth quarter: The Trojan offense finally clicks. White runs for five yards. Leinart completes an eight-yard pass to Fred Davis. Bush runs for 14 yards. Another completion to Davis, for 16 yards.
On third and nine from the 13, Leinart completes a fade pass to Jarrett in the back left corner of the end zone. The Trojans now trail, 35-30.
Now the defense needs to stop Texas, which it does on three plays. After a punt, USC drives from its 32 before settling for a 33-yard field goal by Danelo with 6:53 left, cutting the Trojan deficit to two.
But USC can’t push through in the final minutes, despite an interception that gives them the ball -- at their 10 -- with 1:12 left.
Final score: Texas 35, USC 33.
Star of the game: Young of Texas, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 21 times for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Bush had 22 carries for 149 yards and White gained 122 yards in 15 carries. Leinart completed 19 of 39 passes for 219 yards with no interceptions.
Of the 50 simulations run, Texas won 36 by an average score of 38-24. USC won 14 by an average score of 39-31. There were two overtime games, one won by each team.