Storylines from today's Rose Bowl game:

Will the underdog Illini be able? They can't wait to find out

PASADENA, Calif. – They will look around in wonder. They will think back to being 10 years old and pretending to suit up.

But today, it's real. For the first time in 24 years. For the first time in their lives.

Tate: Fun just beginning at Illinois

LOS ANGELES – Illinois strides onto the national stage today. It's one game. It's not the end of the world. But this Rose Bowl showdown with mighty Southern Cal offers a steppingstone, win or lose, toward a quest for consistent success that has forever slipped through the Illini's hands.

There is no better example of winning through the years than the Trojans. They reek with class. They drip with tradition. Their talent overflows. Coach Pete Carroll, 75-14 in seven seasons at the helm, is bringing the Trojans to the Rose Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons.

Tale of the tape

We asked Tony Bleill to compare and contrast today's Rose Bowl foes:/p>

Postcard from Pasadena

Some folks get starry eyed when they see actors, musicians or models. For me, it's college football announcers. One specifically, Lee Corso.

The former Indiana coach and current ESPN studio analyst is what's right with college football. He's got the enthusiasm without the polish. He's got the energy without the phoniness.

On the scene

He's no Perez Hilton, but our resident gossip columnist offers his report on the sights and sounds from California:

What a rush

USC's challenge is to slow an Illinois ground game – helped by offensive line coach Eric Wolford – ranked fifth nationally:

First and 10

Sports editor Jim Rossow's take on the Rose Bowl:

Survey says...

Sports editor Jim Rossow asked media members who cover the Illini for their Rose Bowl picks:

Tracking the Trojans

Marcus Jackson's report from Sunday: