The buzzword here is "advantage."
When UCLA and Michigan meet in the 69th Rose Bowl New Year's Day, it will be the third game between these two teams in the last year. They split the first two.
Which team, everyone is asking, will have the advantage?
Michigan defeated UCLA, 33-14, a year ago today in the Bluebonnet Bowl. But on Sept. 25, UCLA won at Ann Arbor, 31-27, for its first victory over Michigan. Should either team have an advantage?
Terry Donahue, coach of No. 5-ranked UCLA (9-1-1), has thought about it.
"I've said all along that it's extremely difficult to beat a team in a bowl game that you've beaten in the regular season," Donahue said. "To my knowledge, it's only been done once--in 1957. All the other repeat games have gone to the team that lost in the regular season. That's been a major concern of mine."
Bo Schembechler, coach of 19th-ranked Michigan (8-3), said he has discounted the Bluebonnet Bowl and doesn't think his Big Ten champions dwell on the UCLA victory this fall.
"Losses hang on coaches much longer than they hang on players," Schembechler said. "Players don't reflect as much as we do. The Bluebonnet Bowl doesn't matter because both teams have different personnel now.
"And since the game in Ann Arbor, we've both had eight more games, plus four weeks to prepare for this. You should see some new things. I don't know if there is any great advantage for us or for them."
Back to deuce?
If there is an advantage, UCLA, the Pacific-10 champion, would appear to have it; not because of what happened in the last two games as much as the Bruins being a faster team, with one of the best quarterbacks anywhere in Tom Ramsey.
Ramsey's senior year, a spectacular one, went somewhat unnoticed outside of the Pac-10 Conference because John Elway, the record-setting all-America, played up the road at Stanford.
But Ramsey led the nation in passing efficiency, and was voted coplayer of the year with Elway. He completed 61 percent of his passes, threw for 21 touchdowns and averaged 257 yards a game. He passed for 300 yards or more four times this season.
Said Schembechler: "Ramsey is smart and experienced. He's thrown for 6,000 yards in his career, and any time you drop back that much you come to know what you're doing.
"They're a great passing team," Schembechler said. "That's the thing they do really well. You've got to have patience (defensively) because any time you put it up 50 times, you're going to hit some passes."
Either Michigan faced some powerful passing teams or the secondary is suspect, because the Wolverines allowed opponents to complete 61 percent of their passes for nearly 3,000 net yards this season.
But Michigan, which won the 1981 Rose Bowl, has the capacity to pass back. Anthony Carter, the three-time all-America receiver, will be playing his last game for Michigan. He averaged 20.7 yards a reception and can counteract UCLA's all-time leading receiver Cormac Carney.
Steve Smith, Michigan's junior quarterback, isn't Ramsey, but he isn't bad. Smith, in Schembechler's slightly more liberal offense, completed 51 percent of his passes, threw for 14 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions.
Michigan is making its 11th trip to the Rose Bowl, the seventh under Schembechler. This is UCLA's eighth Rose Bowl, but the first since 1976 and the first under Donahue.