On January 4, 2006, University of Texas quarterback Vince Young makes an eight-yard touchdown run on fourth down with 19 seconds left in the game, capping one of the best individual performances in college football history while leading his team to a Rose Bowl victory and a national championship title over the University of Southern California (USC).
The 2006 Rose Bowl boasted one of the most anticipated match-ups in college football history. USC and Texas entered the game with winning streaks of 34 and 19 games respectively; USC was the PAC-10 and the defending national champions, while Texas had come out on top of the Big 12 and was the defending champion of the Rose Bowl.
Some commentators held that the 2005-06 USC Trojans–led by two Heisman Trophy winners, quarterback Matt Leinart (2004) and running back Reggie Bush (2005)–was possibly the greatest team ever to play college football, and most believed that the Trojans’ punishing offense would put them on top in the Rose Bowl.
The Longhorns fumbled a play in the opening minutes of the game, leading to a USC recovery and touchdown. In the second quarter, Bush ran for 37 yards on a pass play but then threw a desperate lateral pass to a teammate while being tackled. He fumbled, and Texas recovered the ball. The possession ended in a field goal, cutting USC’s lead to four points. The Longhorns scored two touchdowns in the quarter, helped out by a Leinart interception, and by halftime had built a 16-10 lead. The lead changed hands three times in the third quarter, and on the first play of the fourth, with USC up 24-23, Texas kicker David Pino missed a field goal attempt that would have put his team ahead by two. Two USC touchdowns (and a Texas field goal) gave the Trojans their biggest lead of the night, 38-26, with 6:42 left in the game.
The next Texas drive was all Young, as he took just 2:39 to go 69 yards, rushing for 25 of those, including a 17-yard touchdown run, and completing five passes. A Pino extra point put the Longhorns within five points of the Trojans, with 3:58 to play. On his team’s next possession, on fourth-and-2 at the Texas 45-yard line, USC Coach Pete Carroll made a risky decision: Instead of going for the field goal, he told his team to run for the touchdown. White was only able to gain a yard, however, and Texas got the ball back with 2:09 left. Faced with a third-and-12, Texas got a first down with the help of a Trojans face-mask penalty, setting up Young’s game-winning eight-yard touchdown run on fourth down, with 19 seconds left to play.
As Texas celebrated their come-from-behind 41-38 win, Young (who had finished second to Bush in the 2005 Heisman voting) was named MVP of the game, having completed 30 of 40 passes (75 percent) for a total of 267 yards. He also rushed 19 times for 200 yards, scoring three touchdowns and a two-point conversion. After deciding to forgo his last year of college eligibility, Young was selected by the Tennessee Titans as the No. 3 overall draft pick in the 2006 National Football League (NFL) draft.