In the Ohio State dressing room inspirational messages took a back seat to the squeaking of chalk as revisions were diagramed. Through the first half the Buckeye offensive line had confronted an unusual defensive front, with both USC tackles lining up on one side of the center and the outside tackle angling in on the Ohio State tight end. The result was that the Ohio State offensive line was somewhat uncertain about its blocking assignments. Provisional adjustments had been made as the first half progressed; now the Bucks wanted to be dead certain they had the alignment diagnosed correctly. "It was a different look," said Coach Fred Zechman later, "but really it was the same alignment with different people. Upstairs we didn't recognize it as quickly as we should have."
Said Coach Mason, "In the dressing room we talked about it for a full 15 minutes, more than I'd ever spent on that kind of thing. We went over every play, every block, and I thought we made a very good adjustment."
The defensive scheme, meanwhile, was also altered somewhat, away from a pronounced concentration on defending against the run to a more balanced approach. The Buckeyes had clearly been sobered by the speed of Kevin Williams and thus would go to more pure zone pass coverage instead of relying so much on man-to-man against the speedburner. The Buckeyes were further sobered by the loss of Middle Guard Tim Sawicki, who injured his left knee in the second quarter and would not return.
But the halftime restructuring seemed to work. Field goals by Vlade Janakievski of 37 yards in the third quarter and 24 in the fourth (to go with his second-quarter 35-yarder) gave the Bucks a 16-10 lead, while USC was being denied a seemingly certain touchdown on an offensive pass-interference call.
Third quarter, Carroll on the phone to cornerback and backup rover Brian Schwartz: "Hey, Brian, now listen. If you get in there, I want you to play smart football. They are going to come and get you, you understand that? Number 8 [Kevin Williams] is going to really take off on you. I want you to play deep. Mike [Guess] is in right now, but the next series you may go in. If you 're playing inside man, I want you inside. If you're playing outside man, play outside. Don't mess around with anything else. Just play the coverage."
Then, with 5:21 to go, White trotted onto the field with the rest of the Trojan offense. The ball was on the USC 17. Upstairs, USC Offensive Back Coach John Jackson said, "Let's see if we can't run it at 'em." That was the signal for White to take charge. Absolute charge. He burst 32 yards on a play called 22 Blast as Ohio State twice missed tackles.
USC Coach Paul Hackett on the field: "Let's repeat it."
Jackson: "No, let's change it."
As it was through most of this last drive, McDonald had his choice, and he elected 25 Power. White got outside for 28 yards and then was removed to rest.
Jackson: "Do I have him the next play?"