Jun 12, 2012; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Leinart (7) stretches at minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Elite Eight of BCS Era Champions: 2003 USC Trojans vs. 2001 Miami Hurricanes

The 2003 USC Trojans may have been denied the opportunity to play for the BCS championship, but SaturdayBlitz.com voters had their say and Pete Carroll’s team dominated the 2003 LSU Tigers to march into the Elite Eight.

The Sweet 16 of BCS champions was not kind to LSU in general. Whether Nick Saban’s 2003 team, or the two-loss Tigers of 2007, LSU was unable to advance into the next round. Miami’s powerful 2001 team cruised in the vote, much as the Hurricanes did on the field that season.

USC made its ascent in the college football ranks at the same time Miami was descending. The last season the Hurricanes reached a BCS bowl happened to be 2003, when USC appeared in the second of seven straight such appearances.

College football’s mountaintop wasn’t big enough for both the Trojans and Hurricanes at the same time, thus fans were robbed of seeing a true heavyweight clash. SaturdayBlitz.com is here to bring the proverbial mountain to Mohammed in the first of our Elite Eight match-ups.

There are similarities in the 2001 Hurricanes and 2003 Trojans. Both were loaded at running back — Miami with Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and Frank Gore. USC counters with LenDale White, Hershel Dennis and Reggie Bush.

For some insight into just how deep each backfield was, McGahee rushed just 67 times in 2001 and Bush all of 90 in 2003. Both ranked among the nation’s top ball carriers in subsequent seasons after taking over feature back duties. But on their respective championship teams? They were third options.

Each team had a cache of receiving talent, both at wideout and tight end. Andre Johnson and Jeremy Shockey formed a most formidable one-two combination in the passing game, combining for 17 touchdowns and 1200 yards. USC boasted a corps of Mike Williams, Steve Smith and Keary Colbert. Both Williams and Colbert surpassed the 1000-yard mark — Williams easily so at 1314 yards — and combined for 25 touchdowns.

USC receivers boast gaudier stats, because Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart was, frankly, a superior play maker to Miami counterpart Ken Dorsey. Leinart was tremendous following in the footsteps of 2002 Heisman winner Carson Palmer.

But if Leinart is the x-factor for the 2003 Trojans in this match-up, Miami counters with one of the greatest collegiate defenses ever. The Hurricanes stifled one offense after another en route to their national championship, launching several NFL careers.

Who do you like in this dream match-up of SaturdayBlitz.com Elite Eight quarterfinalists? Cast your ballot below, and let us know how you voted in the comments.

Elite Eight of BCS Era Champions: 2001 Miami vs. 2003 USC

  • 2003 USC Trojans (54%, 88 Votes)
  • 2001 Miami Hurricanes (46%, 78 Votes)

Total Voters: 164

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Tags: Football Miami Hurricanes

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