USC has had to cope with its heart-wrenching 2005 BCS National Championship loss to Texas for over a decade — without any shot at revenge. For nearly 12 years now, the lasting memory of Texas’ history with the Trojans is Vince Young’s jaunt into the endzone in the final minute of Texas’ 41-38 victory.
The burnt orange marched into Pasadena, Calif., with a perfect 12-0 record in January 2006, reserving their spot in the national championship with undefeated No. 1 USC — the defending national champion boasting a 34-game win streak.
But before the two teams arrived at the Rose Bowl, there was the Heisman presentation a month before. Young sat in the front row at the Heisman trophy ceremony in New York City, hoping to be named the most outstanding player in college football and join the ranks of Longhorn greats to win the Heisman — Earl Campbell in 1977 and Ricky Williams in 1998.
Instead, Young watched the man sitting to his left walk up to the stage to accept the award — USC running back Reggie Bush.
“After I lost the Heisman, the first thing I did was call (defensive tackle) Rod Wright,” Young said. “I said, ‘Man, get the guys together and tell them it’s showtime’ … I was pissed about not winning the Heisman and not bringing it back to Texas.”
With a chip on his shoulder, Young led the Longhorns to Southern California. But more bulletin board material was soon to come.
Despite finishing the season with a perfect record, including a win over then-No. 4 Ohio State on the road, Texas received minimal media coverage in the lead up to the Rose Bowl. All eyes were on the Trojans, who were being dubbed as the best team in college football history.
“I just remember we just being pissed off the whole time,” former defensive end Tim Crowder said. “We just felt so disrespected … they just never even mentioned us. I just remember feeling so disrespected, and we just couldn’t wait to get out there and play those guys.”
It took just one half of football for the Longhorns to gain the respect of not only the 93,987 fans at the Rose Bowl but also the respect of the Trojans themselves.
“Those guys, they had earned the right to be on the pedestal that they were on,” former safety Michael Griffin said. “They won it the year before, but I don’t know that they truly respected us … I don’t know that pregame they expected what was coming, and by halftime they had figured it out.”
The Trojans had come to respect the Longhorns, but they had no answer for Young, who put together back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, including the famous scramble into the corner of the endzone to give Texas the lead for good with 19 seconds left. A few moments later, the clock struck zero and the Longhorns claimed their first national championship since 1970.
“Quite frankly, we had the best player on the planet on our team and one of the best defenses in college ball,” Griffin said. “You can’t make up the finish that it was and the story. Not often does it live up to the hype, but on that one, we think it surpassed it.”