The McDonald-to-Williams battery connected again for a 40-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to put USC ahead 24-7. But, as remarkable as it would seem, even with USC piling up so many yards and White rushing for more than any single back has ever gained against Alabama, the Tide was not completely out of the game. They scored on a 41-yard pass from Rutledge to Barry Krauss to make it 24-14, and it took two fumbles by star Running Back Tony Nathan in the final 3½ minutes to begin emptying out Legion Field.
But that is not to say justice would have been served by an Alabama win. Bryant had no illusions. At practice on Thursday he had said, "We've been at it six weeks and we ain't improved this much." He indicated the distance between his thumb and forefinger. "You don't win championships if you don't improve. If you stand still you go backward." On the other hand, he marveled at USC and the personnel it had displayed. "I'd take their culls," he said.
In the private frenzy of the USC dressing room, to chants of "One! One! One!" John Robinson hopped up onto a chair and put the status of his own team in remarkably candid perspective. "Remember what I told y ou Thursday," he said, his voice just below a shout. "We're not No. 1, and I'm not voting us No. 1. I'm voting us No. 6. But you're the greatest bunch of human beings I've ever been around, and you're going to be a great team. I sense it. I feel it. You're not No. 1 now, but in January...."