LOS ANGELES – Vince Young had an entire fourth to make his magic.
Sam Darnold had 39 seconds … and no timeouts.
USC’s sophomore quarterback led the Trojans back from the brink of disaster Saturday, engineering a tying drive in the closing minute of regulation, allowing his team to survive Texas in two overtimes, 27-24.
The tying points at the end of fourth quarter and winning points at the end of the second overtime were supplied by freshman kicker Chase McGrath, who, before this game, hadn’t even attempted a college field goal.
A game not expected to be this close, couldn’t have been played much more snugly, the Trojans unable to exhale until McGrath’s 43-yarder concluded it.
In what was billed as a reprise of a college football classic – the 2006 Rose Bowl won by the Young-led Longhorns – very little was classic USC.
Until the finish.
After falling behind, 17-14, in the final minute, Darnold and the Trojans went 52 yards in eight plays in those 39 seconds, setting up a 31-yard field goal by McGrath as time expired.
Darnold hit Deontay Burnett on USC’s first play of the opening overtime, the winning field goal then made possible when the Trojans defense forced a Texas fumble in the second OT.
For all the ’06 Rose Bowl – a 41-38 Texas victory – had, it didn’t have overtime.
That game has been sealed in history as an instant classic. This one, though, was more distant classic.
Tightly contested and wholly entertaining, this game – at least offensively – featured an array of forgettable misplays and regrettable decisions.
The heavily favored Trojans sputtered and stalled throughout on offense, continually failing to seize opportunities, regularly unable to extend drives.
A week after thumping Stanford and exorcising one recent demon, USC struggled mightily in trying to right a wrong that reached back into the very lore of its storied program.
This was set up to be the game that gave USC a convincing victory over a nationally recognized school in prime time on an early season Saturday night, the sort of win that could well resonate all the way till playoff time.
Yet, the usually elusive Darnold routinely was hemmed in by the Texas rush.
A ground game that hammered out 307 yards last week against Stanford couldn’t, when it absolutely had to, gain a few inches.
An offense featuring playmakers simply couldn’t make enough plays, Darnold at times missing his receivers, his receivers at other times missing Darnold’s…