All the credit goes to Texas for winning it all and taking out the Trojans when no other team in this tournament could, but USC ultimately defeats itself. In this game, the Trojans lose three critical fumbles and allow Brian Orakpo and company to sack Mark Sanchez an astounding five times.
Meanwhile, Texas plays an almost perfect game with no turnovers, no sacks allowed, four made field goals, three plays of more than 50 yards and just TWO incompletions. Though he is not chosen as player of the game – that goes to Chris Ogbannaya and his 95 yards on seven touches – this performance is enough to solidify Texas quarterback Colt McCoy as the December Madness Most Valuable Player.
In four games facing stellar defenses from East Carolina, TCU, Florida and USC, McCoy completes 73.6% of his passes for 824 yards and seven touchdowns. He also rushes for 54 more yards and two scores on the ground, while only turning the ball over once. He was given a tough challenge in replacing Vince Young as a true freshman, but McCoy is unquestionably one of the best all-around players and leaders in college football. The fact that he’ll be back next season (even after winning December Madness and its MVP) should scare everyone on the Longhorns' schedule.
The performance of the Trojans, especially up to this point, cannot be overlooked. USC's defense shutdown Cincinnati's spread attack, Alabama’s powerful running game and Oklahoma's record-setting, balanced assault. It even holds Texas in check for the most part as three lost fumbles by the offense put the defense in a tough spot.
Seven defensive starters, including all three linebackers, are seniors and at least one junior, safety Taylor Mays, is expected to leave after this season. In most places, it would be tough to replace eight starters, but there are high school All-Americans at every position waiting for a chance to shine. Plus, the other leading December Madness MVP candidate, Joe McKnight, is just a sophomore and the quarterback, Mark Sanchez is a junior, so the offense will likely be better next year.
McKnight finishes with 371 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in the four games. But none of the speculation to next year changes the outcome of this game. The 2008 Texas Longhorns are the best team in college football – true national champions.
Player of the game: Chris Ogbonnaya (95 total yards, 1 TD)
Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Texas 50.4% - USC 49.6%
December Madness MVP: Colt McCoy (53/72 for 824 passing yards, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 54 rushing yards, 2 TDs)