Memories of Rose Bowl loss to Texas still fresh for Trojans


LOS ANGELES — Chris Hawkins cried.

“I for sure did,” said Hawkins, a senior safety for USC. “It was a sad time in USC history.”

Cameron Smith was laying on the floor in front of family’s TV set. His dad gazed at the screen, too.

“I remember exactly where I was,” said Smith, a junior linebacker.

Sam Darnold, the Trojans’ quarterback, remembered watching the game at home.

“It was just a great season for USC and then to have it end that way was a bummer,” Darnold said.

The game?

The 2006 Rose Bowl epic between USC and Texas, the two top teams vying for a BCS national championship.

The heartbreak the current players remember so vividly?

Vince Young’s 8-yard scramble for a touchdown in the final seconds and the enduring words from ABC broadcaster Keith Jackson.

“He’s going for the corner. … He’s got it. … Vince Young scores.”

The run ended the undefeated Trojans’ 34-game winning streak and hopes for a three-peat, a feat unachieved in college football history.

“Vince Young putting the team on his back,” senior right guard Viane Talamaivao said this week.

USC’s players were then in their early years of elementary school, fixated on football for the first time. Junior receiver Deontay Burnett rushed home from Pop Warner practice to watch the game. They were young fans. Many of them pulled for USC, too. They were young fans.

“I don’t know who really wasn’t,” Smith said, “especially in California.”

As USC hosts Texas in a highly anticipated nonconference game on Saturday evening at the Coliseum, their first meeting since the instant classic, it has revived the searing memories of the Trojans’ crushing loss.

“We know what’s at stake,” Smith said. “It’s a rivalry that’s never been played since. So we’re looking forward to it, as well as they are.”

There is not exactly a consensus among players if USC-Texas is a rivalry. The teams have met only five times previously, but their pasts are intertwined.

“In my mind, there’s history behind this game,” Talamaivao said. “There’s not a rivalry. But it’s Texas-USC. It’s an awesome opportunity. You relish it.”

Not all players were distraught when Young strutted across the goal line.

Ronald Jones, who grew up in McKinney, Texas, rooted for the Longhorns while also a self-proclaimed fan of then Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.

“That’s weird, I know,” he said.

USC has five players on its roster from Texas.

But for anyone, Young’s…



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