WHO WILL WIN THE GAME?

MITCH ALBOM

U-M If I believed Michigan was the second-best team in the nation in November, they still should be so in January. And the second-best team in the nation should be able to do whatever UCLA and Oregon State did.

Who’s your Wolverine? Mike Hart. You run, you control. You control, you limit Southern Cal’s offense and tire its defense. You do that, you win.

Who’s your Trojan? John David Booty. The quarterback will be looking to make people forget Matt Leinart, and if he wins this game, he might.

MVP: Mike Hart.

Final score: U-M, 23-13.

Looking ahead to next week:

Ohio State 34, Florida 16.

MICHAEL ROSENBERG U-M

Michigan was the better team for most of the season. USC lost to Oregon State and UCLA, which were a combined 9-7 against the rest of the Pac-10. The good news for U-M: USC QB John David Booty is not a scrambler. That should help the defense regain its form.

Who’s your Wolverine? Chad Henne. The quarterback has had a marvelous season, better than people realize. If Henne plays as well in the Rose Bowl as he did against Ohio State, U-M will win and he will emerge as a front-runner for the ’07 Heisman Trophy.

Who’s your Trojan? Dwayne Jarrett. The country’s most complete receiver can get yards against anybody. If he doesn’t have a big day, USC is in trouble … but when he is healthy, as he is now, he almost always has a big day.

MVP: Chad Henne.

Final score: U-M, 27-17.

Looking ahead to next week: Ohio State 34, Florida 23.

DREW SHARP

USC

The Ohio State loss exposed the Wolverines’ secondary as their defensive Achilles’ heel when the Buckeyes constantly spread out four wide receivers. The Trojans possess similar depth and probably will employ the same strategy.

Who’s your Wolverine? LaMarr Woodley. The defensive end was invisible through the first half against the Buckeyes. Ron English must find ways to spring Woodley loose because the UCLA loss showed John David Booty buckles against relentless pressure.

Who’s your Trojan? Steve Smith. He might be the most underrated big-play receiver in the nation because Dwayne Jarrett gets all the attention. But he’ll be a popular third-down target, keeping the chains moving. This guy will be money when he gets to the NFL.

MVP: Steve Smith.

Final score: USC, 38-36.

Looking ahead to next week:

Ohio State 41, Florida 31.

SHANNON SHELTON

U-M

The game will be close, but Michigan’s fronts will make the difference. The defensive front can get enough pressure on John David Booty to neutralize his ability to reach his receiver. The offensive line has been instrumental in giving Mike Hart space to move and Chad Henne time to throw.

Who’s your Wolverine? LaMarr Woodley. U-M will need a good pass rush to prevent Booty from getting the ball off. Woodley, a winner of two national awards, is capable of doing just that.

Who’s your Trojans? Dwayne Jarrett. When the Trojans need a big play, Jarrett is their man. The 6-foot-5 receiver is one of the best in the country and U-M’s secondary has struggled against strong receivers. USC’s group will be the best U-M has seen all season.

MVP: Mike Hart.

Final score: U-M, 31-28.

Looking ahead to next week:

Ohio State 31, Florida 24.

MARK SNYDER U-M

Michigan has the more consistent offense and, with a healthy Mario Manningham for the first time in months, it has two deep threats worthy of double coverage. Combined with a motivated defense after the Ohio State frustration, U-M will be smelling blood.

Who’s your Wolverine? Mario Manningham. The freshman wide receiver was U-M’s standout player early in the year and will show USC’s NFL-bound receivers they need to share the spotlight.

Who’s your Trojan? John David Booty. The USC quarterback is the wild card. If he can avoid the U-M defensive pressure and hit Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith for big plays, the inconsistent running game will be irrelevant.

MVP: Chad Henne.

Final score: U-M, 25-21.

Looking ahead to next week:

Ohio State 30, Florida 21.

SHAWN WINDSOR U-M

Why? Because Michigan eventually has to break through in Pasadena. Because Lloyd Carr hasn’t won a bowl in four years. Because USC seems indifferent. Because Chad Henne needs a victory at the end of the season.

Who’s your Wolverine? Chad Henne. U-M traditionally likes to run to set up the pass. USC will load up to stop Mike Hart. Henne will need to find his receivers and tight ends to loosen up the middle. And he will need to find a rhythm early in the game.

Who’s your Trojan? Sam Baker. The two-time All-America tackle must keep LaMarr Woodley out of the backfield. If he does, and John David Booty has time to throw, U-M’s secondary will be in trouble.

MVP: Chad Henne.

Final score: U-M, 24-17.

Looking ahead to next week:

Ohio State 28, Florida 17.

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