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Stewart Mandel: 2005 Texas vs. USC Is College Football's Equivalent Of The Cavaliers vs. Warriors

LeBron James and Steph Curry on the court.

ESPN

The Cavaliers and Warriors are on a collision course for a third straight NBA Finals. FOX Sports' Stewart Mandel says the 2005 Texas vs. USC national title is the closest thing college football has had to Cavs vs. Dubs.

In today's edition of Mandel's mailbag, a reader submitted the epic national championship from 12 years ago as the closest thing we've had to the NBA Finals rivalry that is almost certain to play out for a third straight year. Mandel offered up 2011 Alabama vs. LSU as a potential alternative before agreeing on Texas vs. USC as the best example.

That 2005 season does feel like the closest comparison. Not only were the Trojans and ‘Horns the lone undefeated teams come the postseason, they went wire-to-wire as the top two teams in the polls. And I don’t remember there being too much respect for No. 3 Penn State, despite the fact the Nittany Lions’ sole loss came on a last-second Michigan touchdown pass.

But it’s easy to say all this now with the benefit of hindsight. In real time, the story most of that season wasn’t USC and Texas — it was whether USC was the best team of all-time. The ‘Horns were largely an afterthought right up until Vince Young’s game-winning touchdown. The better NBA comparison might be last year’s Warriors-Cavs dynamic.

2005 Texas vs. USC really charts well with the 2016 NBA Finals. Obviously, you're missing the rematch aspect—USC destroyed Oklahoma in the previous year's title game, while Texas finished No. 5 at 11-1—but the rest is incredibly similar.

As Mandel said, there was serious talk whether the '05 Trojans were the best team of all time, coming off of the previous year's title, with a star-studded roster and two Heisman winners. The Warriors had just broken the 1996 Chicago Bulls' record for regular season wins and were the odds-on favorite to repeat as champs. Of course, by the end of the '16 NBA Finals and '05 Rose Bowl, it became clear which team truly had the best player. Vince Young put the Longhorns on his back, outplaying Heisman winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush en route to the championship, much like LeBron James did to reigning MVP Steph Curry.

It goes without saying that college football and the NBA are hard to truly compare, due to sample sizes and the nature of the respective sports. However, the similarities between these two are quite apparent.

[FOX Sports]