No. 4 USC Trojans escaped with a 27-24 double overtime win, in front of 84,714 fans at the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday night.
The game was truly measured by defense, penalties, 4th downs, overtime heroics that had a recipe for a classic.
Unlike the 2006 Rose Bowl that featured Texas QB Vince Young, USC RB Reggie Bush and QB Matt Leinart, where both teams put up exciting offensive drives from beginning to end, this game was intriguing from the final quarter into both overtimes.
This is the first time the two schools have met since the Trojans lost to the Longhorns 41-38 in the 2006 Rose Bowl game. Quarterback Vince Young ran for over 200 yards and threw for 267 yards in that game. Historically the Trojans are 4-0 against the Longhorns, with one loss vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record, 4-1.
In the final quarter of regulation, Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger converted two fourth downs that keep their drive alive.
With approximately 45 seconds remaining, Ehlinger found Armanti Foreman on the right side of the endzone as the Longhorns captured their first lead 17-14.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold managed to move the ball down the field in seconds, punctuating the drive with a jump pass that is sure to make highlight reels to come.
Freshman walk-on kicker Chase McGrath made a crucial field goal at the end of regulation that sent the game into overtime. It was McGraft’s first field goal of his collegiate career.
Later McGrath’s heroics would be needed in the second overtime, as USC’s Christian Rector forced a fumble close at the Texas goal line to give the Trojans the ball back. He nailed a 43-yard field goal that kept the Trojans undefeated at 3-0 on the season. USC hasn’t won an overtime game since 2001.
The Trojans failed to convert due to two costly penalties, which set them back forced them to punt. Texas botched the snap to Ehlinger and the Trojans Christian Rector recovered the ball. To end the first quarter Texas’ Anthony Wheeler sacked Darnold for a 9-yard loss that ended of the 1st Quarter.
Both the Trojans and Longhorns struggled to find their rhythm offensively in the first half. However USC continued to move the chains and Darnold escapes a sack and found Deontay Burnett in the back of the endzone for the 15 yard touchdown pass, for the 7-0 lead.Trojans got within field goal range early in the second quarter, but the 36 yard attempt was wide left.
Sam Ehlinger delivered a 28 yard pass to Colllin Johnson for the first down, and after that play the Trojans defense sacked Ehlinger three times in a row.
Once USC looked to develop a drive, Darnold threw a costly pick to DeShon Elliott who ran it back for a 28 yard touchdown. Several plays later the Longhorns defense got lazy, and Darnold made them pay by launching a wide open pass to Jones who ran it in untouched, for a 28 yard touchdown USC ended the first half with a 14-7 lead over Texas.
Sam Ehlinger pass complete to Collin Johnson for 24 yards for the first down. Several plays later Ehlinger handed off the ball to Armanti Foreman run for a nine yard run that set up a 39 yard field goal. The Longhorns trailed the Trojans14-10 in the third quarter.
The Trojans answered back as Darnold found his favorite target Deontay Burnett for a 14 yard gain. Two plays later Darnold found Mitchell for a 20 yard gain, however on fourth and three the Trojans came up short and turned the ball over once again. USC was 0-for-3 on 4th down conversions.
The Trojans lacked an offensive rhythm which has stagnated in much of the third and fourth quarters, against a Longhorns team that is offensively inferior. Major plays and stops by the USC defense kept the Trojans opportunities to score alive throughout the second half. The Trojans struggled much like they did in their first game of the season against Western Michigan. Tonight’s effort looked like a complete 180 degrees from what was displayed against Stanford last week.
Although the Trojans escaped the Coliseum with a narrow win, Helton must find a way to get their offensive flowing in a more consistent manner. Especially if they truly desire be one of the four teams in the college football playoff at the end of this season.
The Trojans go on the road to face the Cal Golden Bears on Saturday at 12:30 PM PT. The Trojans are currently on a 12 game winning streak.