Posted: Thursday January 5, 2006 3:39AM; Updated: Thursday January 5, 2006 1:41PM
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Scenes from the Rose Bowl sidelines, about two hours before kickoff:
Former Southern Cal quarterback Paul McDonald, who led the Trojans to a 17-16 win over Ohio State in the 1980 Rose Bowl, playing catch on the field with his son, backup QB Mike McDonald. The McDonalds' Field of Dreams moment included 30-yard spirals and tosses toward the sideline where the elder McDonald did the both-feet-inbounds drill.
Texas band members sporting eye-black patches with the Austin area code "512," a clever jab at Reggie Bush's "619" eye-black in honor of his hometown of San Diego.
A lone UCLA fan, in a baby blue Bruins jersey and ski cap, badgering USC assistant coach (and erstwhile Bruins star linebacker) Ken Norton Jr. Dude, right stadium, wrong game.
Southern Cal's LenDale White walking into the stands to hug his parents and a few other family members.
USC cornerback Terrell Thomas lingering on the field long after his teammates had bled into the tunnel. Thomas took off his helmet and shoulder pads and just sat on the bench, staring into space.
Marcus Allen on USC's switch from predominantly running Reggie Bush in the first half to White in the second: "Anyone who knows anything about football knows that you run directly at speed. Texas' defense is very fast, and so USC ran LenDale right at them. Then, after you do that awhile, the defense has to cheat in toward the middle, and then you can break the big run outside."
USC had 97 rushing yards in the first half, and 112 in the second. The disparity seemed greater.
Lost in the confusion of Young's game-winning touchdown was USC's imprudent decision to call timeout before the Longhorns' two-point conversion attempt. The score was 39-38 when Texas lined up to go for two. USC was going to need at least a field goal to win or extend the game and, with 0:16 showing on the clock, you would think that USC would have been thrilled to send the game into overtime.
That final timeout was far too valuable to waste at that moment. Had USC not squandered it, and presuming that Bush still takes Matt Leinart's shovel pass 27 yards to the Texas 41, then USC would have had the ball with 0:08 remaining and one timeout. So?
Well, Leinart now has the entire field to play with. He could hit Dwayne Jarrett or Steve Smith on a quick 12-yard crossing pattern and to set up a field goal attempt. Without the timeout? USC either had to throw to the sideline or go for the home-run ball, and everyone inside the Rose Bowl knew it.