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Shootout at the Rose Bowl
By Todd Harris
Special to


It's better than the OK Corral. The kid from Texas who never saw a pass he didn't like, and the quarterback who needs no plan -- just give him the ball and let him improvise. On Jan. 1 the Washington Huskies will face off with the Purdue Boilermakers at the Grandaddy of them all -- the Rose Bowl presented by AT&T (ABC, 4:30 p.m. ET).

Drew Brees
Drew Brees leads one of the most feared offenses in the country.
This year's matchup could turn out to be an offensive explosion -- a far cry from last year's setting when the Ron Dayne-led Badgers of Wisconsin came to town running the ball to record-setting proportions. This year, the ball will more than likely spend most of its time in the balmy 80-degree Southern California air.

For fans of offense, this game is a dream, but it may be timely defense that proves to be the difference. For Purdue, keeping Marques Tuiasasopo off the field is imperative. The only team to beat the Huskies this year, Oregon, did just that. Mike Bellotti's Ducks forced three turnovers and held the ball for more than 35 minutes in that game.

Purdue's is an attacking offense that scores quickly and moves the ball efficiently. Purdue has all the tools to put a load of points on the board, but a shootout may favor the Huskies. Brees is the one of the most composed and talented quaterbacks in the country; the only problem is, so is Tuiasasopo.

It will come down to two questions for each team. For Purdue: Can Drew Brees effectively spread Washington's defensive backs and find holes? And if he can, how long can they last? If he lights it up early, the Husky DBs may be in for a long and exhausting day.

For the Huskies: Can Tuiasasopo work his magic one more time and be an effective time manager and game controller? If he can, will the Boilermakers be able to adjust soon enough to give Brees the time he will need to make yet another fourth quarter comeback?

Both of these teams live and die by the fourth quarter, so something has to give. Overtime is certainly a possibility in this game. Will the Warrior and his band of Dawgs derail the Boilermakers' freight train? Or will the Texas Gunslinger go out in a blaze of glory when the sun sets on the grand promenade in Pasadena? This may be the most intriguing of all the BCS games and a nice way to ready us for next year's National Championship game at the Rose Bowl.

Whatever the outcome, I truly believe the folks at ESPN Classic should find a programming slot for this one.

Todd Harris will call the Rose Bowl with Keith Jackson and Tim Brant. He is a regular contributor to

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