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January 1, 2007
Notebook: Booty stakes his claim
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PASADENA, Calif. - The last two guys to play quarterback at Southern California before John David Booty won the Heisman Trophy.
Suddenly, it doesn't seem so outlandish to think Booty might make it three consecutive Heisman winners under center at USC.
Booty went 27-of-45 for 391 yards with four second-half touchdown passes Monday to lead the eighth-ranked Trojans to a 32-18 Rose Bowl victory over No. 3 Michigan.
"It's the most fun I've ever had in my entire life," the junior quarterback said of his second-half onslaught.
Booty's four touchdown passes represented a career high and tied a Rose Bowl record. His 391-yard outburst was the eighth-highest single-game passing total in school history and helped Booty finish his first year as a starter with 3,347 passing yards.
It was the type of performance that had USC fans drawing comparisons to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
"He was able to spread the ball to the talented guys that we had and really make a difference in this football game tonight, but he's been doing that all year long," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "I felt very strongly about his performance. This is just a great showcase opportunity for him leading into next year."
Booty made only one major mistake all day.
USC had the ball on Michigan's 21-yard line early in the second quarter and appeared on the verge of breaking a 3-3 tie when Booty fumbled.
In one of the few occasions when Michigan mounted a pass rush, linebacker Shawn Crable knocked the ball out of Booty's right hand. Defensive tackle Alan Branch recovered the fumble at the line of scrimmage to end the scoring threat.
Booty spent the entire second half making amends.
The junior quarterback went 4-of-4 for 38 yards on a go-ahead touchdown drive that ended with a 2-yard toss to a wide-open Chris McFoy.
On the Trojans' next series, he found Dwayne Jarrett, who shook loose of cornerback Morgan Trent around the 15-yard line and raced into the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown that gave the Trojans a 16-3 advantage.
Booty capitalized on head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's decision to throw the ball on just about every play after the Trojans gained just 20 yards on 13 carries in the first half. USC threw the ball on 19 of its 22 plays from scrimmage in the third quarter.
"I was really starting to feel comfortable in the second half," Booty said. "I had confidence in my offensive line and our protection. Everything we were doing, I just felt really good about it. When we went to our throwing game, I just felt real comfortable."
And just when it appeared as though Michigan had gotten back into the game, Booty delivered the backbreaker.
Michigan had just cut USC's lead to 19-11 on Chad Henne's 11-yard touchdown pass to Adrian Arrington. The Trojans faced third-and-10 early in the fourth quarter and risked giving Michigan the ball back with a chance to tie the game.
That's when Booty threw deep to Jarrett, who had gotten behind All-America cornerback Leon Hall. Jarrett caught the pass in stride at the Michigan 32-yard line and raced into the end zone to complete a 62-yard touchdown with
Booty later added a 7-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith, and ended up going
17-of-29 for 289 yards and four touchdowns in the second half alone.
"Those are crazy numbers," Jarrett said. "He did a great job. Coach Kiffin opened up the playbook, and (Booty) made great reads. The pass I caught was a perfect throw. It couldn't be better than that."
DWAYNE'S GAINS: If this really was Jarrett's last game in a USC uniform, he made it one to remember.
The junior receiver caught 11 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns to break Keary Colbert's school record with 216 career receptions. Jarrett also owns the Rose Bowl record for career receptions (21) and receiving yards (269) while tying the Rose Bowl record for career touchdown catches (three).
Jarrett's two touchdown catches gave him 41 for his career, which extended his school and Pac-10 record.
Jarrett hasn't indicated whether he will return to school for his senior year. Frank Coyle of draftinsiders.com rates Jarrett as the No. 7 overall prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft class.
"I still haven't made up my mind," Jarrett said.
BREASTON'S BEST: Michigan wide receiver Steve Breaston capped his college career by collecting 167 all-purpose yards to give him a Rose Bowl career total of 588. He caught seven passes for a career-high 115 yards.
Breaston also set Rose Bowl career records for kickoff returns (11) while breaking his own record for Rose Bowl career kickoff return yards (299).
NO COMPARISONS HERE: Michigan coach Lloyd Carr turned down the opportunity to compare USC to top-ranked Ohio State, which beat the Wolverines 42-39 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
"I don't want to compare teams," Carr said. "I think they're both outstanding football teams. I said going into this game, SC is the best defensive team that we've played, and there's no question in my mind that they are."
ENDING THE JINX: USC owns a 29-18 all-time record at the Rose Bowl stadium, but the Trojans had lost their last two games here. Texas beat USC 41-38 in last year's national championship game before UCLA upset the Trojans 13-9 in this year's regular-season finale.
The Trojans had lost just one game anywhere else - a 33-31 setback at Oregon State - over the last three seasons.
"(It was critical) just to get over this curse from being in the Rose Bowl," Jarrett said. "We'd been here two years in a row and had two losses. I think the team had to get over this hump."
ETC.: Michigan was playing in its 32nd consecutive bowl to continue the nation's longest string of annual bowl appearances. . USC improved to 22-9 in Rose Bowl games, including a 6-2 mark in Rose Bowls against Michigan. ... USC alum and "Star Wars" director George Lucas served as grand marshal of the Tournament of Roses and conducted the honorary coin flip. Darth Vader accompanied Lucas and his children to a pregame ceremony at midfield. ... There also was a pregame tribute to former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, who died at the age of 77 on the eve of the Wolverines' regular-season finale with Ohio State. ... Michigan's players wore a helmet sticker with "48" and "Bo" to honor the memories of Schembechler and President Gerald Ford, a former center who played on Michigan's 1932 and 1933 national championship teams. . Michigan tight end Tyler Ecker caught six passes to match his regular-season reception total. . Michigan defensive end LaMarr Woodley recorded his 12th sack of the year to match David Bowens' 10-year-old single-season school record. ... USC kicker Mario Danelo made a pair of 26-yard kicks to make him 15-of-16 on field-goal attempts this year and 26-of-28 in his career, though he also missed two extra points Monday.