An instant classic game for the BCS National Championship played between Texas football and the USC Trojans should be etched in CFB history forever.
Texas football has participated in some of the most entertaining matchups throughout college football altogether since the turn of the century. However, most of those thoroughly entertaining contests came under the direction of former Longhorns head football coach Mack Brown. Even the head football coach for Texas that followed after Brown, Charlie Strong, had some classic games during his tenure despite the rough times altogether.
All Texas fans at this moment are likely to remember the wins that Strong led the Horns to over the Baylor Bears and Oklahoma Sooners (both top 15 teams at the time) in 2015 and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to kick off the 2016 campaign. However, the overall tenure of Strong in Austin is easily viewed in a negative light and will be for a long time.
The focus here is not on the best games overall for Texas over the past 12 years. Texas played in some great games, but by far the most memorable of all came against head coach Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans back on Jan. 4, 2006.
USC quarterback Matt Leinart and the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush were flying high on a 34-game winning streak entering the 2006 Rose Bowl against Texas. Meanwhile, Texas quarterback Vince Young was snubbed for the Heisman Trophy and used that as motivation for the BCS National Championship that season. USC had all the hype and momentum in the world entering this contest.
Texas needed to leave it all out on the field to claim this victory, and win a National Championship in what would become an instant classic in the college football world.
For most of the game, USC controlled the tempo with all the talent it had on both sides of the ball. Yet, Young never let the Horns get too far away, including three rushing touchdowns he managed in the second half alone. Young shredded opposing defenses throughout the 2005 regular season, which continued into the Big 12 Championship Game and BCS National Championship Game.
The Texas defense did just enough against that vaunted USC offense to let Young do what he needed to do to come up clutch in the most pressure intense time possible. With the Horns needing a touchdown to win the game late in the fourth quarter, Young drove his offense down the field in the quickest time possible for taking nine plays.
It all came down to that 4th-and-5 play with 26 seconds remaining that every Texas fan will always remember. Young scrambled out of the pocket and performed a balancing act down the sideline to get into the end zone. That would ultimately win the game for the Horns, and give the program its most recent title. If former star Texas quarterback Colt McCoy had stayed healthy through the 2010 National Championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide, we might be talking about the program’s second most recent title. But, things didn’t pan out that way at the beginning of 2010.
When college football fans think about some of the best games of all-time for any program, this Texas-USC 2006 Rose Bowl should be the first that comes to mind. There’s other classic games like the 2003 National Championship where the Ohio State Buckeyes slipped past a deserving Miami Hurricanes squad to win the title. And, the Clemson Tigers winning the title over the Crimson Tide in 2016 along with the Oklahoma Sooners getting edged out by an upstart Boise State Broncos team in the Fiesta Bowl are both extremely memorable too. Nothing measures up to the feeling any fan would get by reliving this 2006 Rose Bowl. It’s the best game of all-time in college football history. And, we can thank a Heisman Trophy snub in Vince Young for that.