While the lead-up to Saturday’s matchup between Texas and No. 4 USC brought back memories of the last time the two storied programs met, few expected the drama to be similar to what took place in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4, 2006. The two teams needed extra time to settle Saturday’s game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, with USC winning 27-24 in double overtime.
USC (3-0) defensive lineman Christian Rector made the biggest play of overtime, as he managed to strip Texas (1-2) quarterback Sam Ehlinger of the football a couple yards short of the goal line. USC’s Ajene Harris recovered the fumble, and four plays later Chase McGrath made a 42-yard field goal to provide the final margin.
Heartbroken Horns. Lovin' it in LA.
The No. 4 Trojans win in OT in another Texas-USC epic. pic.twitter.com/smrwo1FTYE
— ESPN (@espn) September 17, 2017
Darnold, viewed by many as a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy, was kept in check for much of the game by the Texas defense. Darnold completed 28 of his 49 passes for 397 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Despite what the high yardage total would lead some to believe, moving the football against a Texas defense that was heavily criticized after giving up 51 points to Maryland in its season opener proved to be easier said than done for USC.
Texas didn’t score until late in the second quarter, when DeShon Elliott returned a deflected Darnold pass 38 yards for a touchdown. USC responded shortly thereafter, with Darnold finding Ronald Jones for a 56-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half.
After Joshua Rowland’s 39-yard field goal trimmed the Texas deficit to four points with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter, neither team scored again until the final minute of regulation. Ehlinger’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Armanti Foreman with 45 seconds remaining gave the visiting Longhorns a 17-14 lead, but Texas left too much time on the clock for a USC offense led by Darnold.
Darnold led the Trojans into field goal range, with the drive including an impressive jump-pass to Stephen Carr for a 21-yard gain. Chase McGrath’s 31-yard field goal as time expired forced overtime, with the two teams exchanging touchdowns on their first drives of the extra session. Texas’ second overtime possession had a far worse ending, setting the stage for McGrath’s game-winning field goal.