It's easy for fans to overlook Budde and his fellow linemen, most notably Center Chris Foote and Tackle Keith Van Home. That's because Tailback Charles White is very much in evidence—he carried the ball 31 times for 185 yards Saturday night—and so is the icy-cool, left-handed quarterback, Paul McDonald, who now has a .690 completion percentage. But Robinson isn't so easily distracted. He has watched Budde closely for four seasons now and extols him as "the most competitive football player I've ever been around. When he goes to the NFL, he'll be in the Pro Bowl for eight or nine years." Brad, son of former Kansas City Chief Guard Ed Budde, smiles when he talks of the weekly punishment inflicted on his body. "I should've listened to my dad when he told me I ought to become a field-goal kicker," he says. "But I think I can be better than he was [Ed was an All-Pro seven times in his 14-year career]. I expect it, and he expects it. See, at my position you have to love the game. It's not exciting to block."
However, Budde may not be all that much better than Van Home, a broadcast journalism major who prefers radio to TV, because "I like to be where I can be heard but not seen." Which is just about what one would expect of an offensive lineman. "The kind of guy who plays the offensive line is the kind who doesn't mind being overshadowed," says Foote. At this his wife, Suzy, looks up at him and says, "I watch you to see if you make your tackle."
"You mean my block," says Chris.
"Oh, yeah, your block."
In the first half on Saturday, it seemed as if Southern Cal had forgotten all about both blocking and tackling. The defense, which had given up 81 yards rushing a game, played as if it was scared LSU would complete a long pass, thus it allowed 145 yards, mostly on plays designed to yield short gains. And the offense seemed bewildered by the Tigers' eight-man line. All the Trojans could manage was a 32-yard first-quarter field goal by Eric Hipp following Jeff Fisher's interception of a David Woodley pass.
Meanwhile, the Tigers, like their fans, were letting it all hang out. After the Trojans' three-pointer, Steve Ensminger, who had replaced Woodley at quarterback, completed a pass to Split End Tracy Porter for 15 yards, and Fullback Jude Hernandez followed that with a 24-yard bolt up the middle. That put the ball on the USC 12. Two plays later Ensminger threw over the center to Tailback LeRoid Jones for an LSU touchdown. A fumbled snap spoiled the conversion attempt, but 10 minutes later, after recovering a USC fumble, the Tigers got to the Trojan 15 before they settled for a 32-yard field goal by Don Barthel. Thus, Southern Cal found itself trailing 9-3 at the half and hard-pressed to find anything to shout about—which at that moment made them unique in Tiger Stadium.
The third quarter was not one of substantial improvement for USC, although the Trojans did mount an opening 68-yard march that got them down to the LSU seven before it fizzled. After a field-goal attempt was off to the right, the Tigers roared right to a first down on the USC two. But a plunge for no gain, a nine-yard loss on a pitchout and an incompletion moved them back to the 11. In came Barthel again for a field goal, up went another three points, and USC was down by nine. However, the Trojan offensive line seemed to have overcome its uncertainty on the USC's second-half opening drive, and there were still 18� minutes to play. Could it be that the Trojans weren't dead, but only lying in the weeds?
This seemed to be the case early in the fourth quarter when USC went 57 yards in six plays, thanks to some nifty passing by McDonald, who completed 14 of 20 against a Tiger defense that had allowed only 15 completions in winning its two previous games. Of course, the Trojan drive included some renditions of that old USC standard: Student Body Right, or 28 Pitch. At the end of this series White followed Budde, Van Home and Foote on three straight plays for 17 yards, the last gain four yards and a touchdown to make it LSU 12, USC 10.
Then, with 5:52 left, USC fumbled again, the Tigers' Alvin Thomas recovering on the Trojan 26, and it looked as if LSU would survive, maybe even prosper.
But an offensive-interference penalty and a delay-of-game call resulted in the Tigers having to punt from their 44. The ball was fair-caught at the USC 21, where Southern Cal went to work with 4:16 remaining. Helped by a face-mask penalty, the Trojans inexorably marched toward the Tiger goal line. The drive culminated with McDonald throwing from the eight, off a rollout, to Kevin Williams, running an out pattern, and USC was in front 17-12. It was Williams' 33rd reception of his USC career. Sixteen of them have been for touchdowns.