Michigan routed Ohio State because Ohio State could not pass. USC can pass, either with Evans or Rob Hertel. It also can defend against the pass. Rick Leach, the Michigan quarterback, is in a league that has not yet granted suffrage to quarterbacks (only heretic Purdue sends passing quarterbacks to the pros). Leach is a fine athlete but an ordinary passer. The Lytle-Bell running match should be entertaining, but USC, whose bowl batting average is the best of any team with 10 or more appearances (15-6), has built a better mousetrap.
Now that you have absorbed all that technical stuff, forget it. Since bowls became a party to the postseason national championship polls in 1965, upsets have been epidemic. A man with a sporting bent could have made a bundle betting underdogs. If he had taken the points in the last 12 Rose, Orange, Sugar, Cotton and Gator bowls, he would have won 38 out of 59 times—64%.
In the Rose Bowl over that period, the favorite has not only failed to make the spread eight out of 12 times, but it has also lost six times. In the Gator, nine of 11 underdogs beat the spread—and seven won the game.
Last year Ohio State (a 14-point favorite) lost to UCLA 23-10 in the Rose Bowl; Alabama (12 points) beat Penn State but only by 13-6 in the Sugar; Texas A&M (6 points) lost to USC in the Liberty; Nebraska (13½ points) lost to Arizona State in the Fiesta; Kansas (3 points) lost to Pitt in the Sun; Florida (7 points) lost to Maryland in the Gator; North Carolina State (2½ points) lost to West Virginia in the Peach. The year before, nine of 10 favorites failed to make the spread.
This is not to encourage betting on underdogs, be they Bull or any other breed (Pitt is favored by 3, Michigan by 6 in the early line). This is not to encourage betting at all. This is to say, however, that all things considered, if you were Pittsburgh at this late date you might feel, well, extended.