Culpepper's Commentary: Rose Bowl

Fourth and five on the USC 8 yardline with 19 seconds left with Texas down 38-33; this is what happened as I saw it from the end zone 100-plus yards away through binoculars.

Texas on the right hash mark with Limas Sweed split into the sideline. Vince Young gets his 76th perfect snap of the game from Texas center Lyle Sendlein (74 of them with Young in the shotgun spread formation) and looks downfield. The Texas offensive line gives him precious time to scan the USC coverage and "feel" the rush. It's Jonathan Scott, Kasey Studdard, Sendlein, Will Allen and Justin Blalock fighting for all they are worth to give Young time, time to win a national championship. USC's defensive tackle La Juan Ramsey gets between Longhorn blockers to Young's left side but the Texas quarterback is already moving to his right looking directly at Sweed who has broken past USC cornerback Justin Wyatt.

USC defensive end Frostee Rucker has a chance at Young and grazes his jersey but Young sees the USC corner has turned his back to cover Sweed and he runs for it.

The Texas quarterback scores running though the end zone and into a sea of photographers. Fifty thousand Texas fans inside the bowl hug people they hardly know and scream with all the voice they have left. Millions of television viewers realized in that split second when Young started his stride through the end zone why college football is the best of all our American games.

It would have never ended in storybook fashion had not junior defensive end Brian Robison split a double team on fourth and two from the Texas 44 yardline with 2:09 remaining. USC had a five-point lead and LenDale White was looking more like Marcus Allen on every snap.

What was incredible and courageous about Robison's unselfish play was that in the previous series of downs 280-pound USC tight end Dominique Byrd had thrown a clean, devastating knockout block on Robison as the runner cut back. The Longhorn DE lay stunned for 35 seconds by my watch while trainers tried to determine the extent of damage. Coach Mack Brown saw the block and followed the white-suited training staff on the field. This was one of his warriors, down and maybe done. Like the Longhorn football team itself, Robison stood up and climbed back into the ring.

When you never quit you have a chance and this Longhorn football team that stands evermore as the fourth national championship unit to wear Burnt Orange and White came through a list of heavyweights: Michigan (by winning last year's Rose Bowl. Texas got the confidence to win a championship), Ohio State in the road, Oklahoma and finally the USC Trojans with a 34-game winning streak, back-to-back national titles and playing in their own backyard.

Robison was under a mountain of scarlet and gold USC bodies and a pile of dirty, white-uniformed Texans forming a wall which stopped the Trojan tailback inches short of clinching USC's third consecutive national championship.

Take away tight end David Thomas' 10 catches which resulted in critical first downs and Texas doesn't win.

Take away Michael Griffin's brilliant leaping interception in the Texas end zone and the Trojans are victorious.

Take away Drew Kelson's step for step coverage of USC's Reggie Bush 26 yards downfield in the last minutes of the third quarter and Texas loses.

Take away Frank Okam's pressure up the middle on Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart and USC wins.

Since the Texas Tech game in 2005 there has been a magical relationship between Vince Young, the Texas fans and offensive coordinator Greg Davis and his understanding of turning Young loose in the big games. Since that clear night in Lubbock when Davis unleashed college football's most dynamic single football player on quarterback sweeps, options, draws and the zone read, the Longhorns have been on the long road to a national championship.

It was apparent Vince Young was ready to run every down if that's what it took. His energy and leadership was boundless.

Just before the second half got underway Young strided to the Texas end zone, which was covered around the bowl in Burnt Orange, getting the crowd to their feet. All of us responded and then he turned and got down on one knee perhaps praying to the God that brought him out of the streets of Houston, that gave him men like coach Ray Seals of Madison High School that showed him the right kind of "gang" to be a member of. The Orangebloods in the stands got quiet then exploded in noise as Vince sprung up from his meditation and sprinted back to begin the 30-minute war.

I have to say the 1969 Arkansas-Texas shootout, the Cotton Bowl win over Notre Dame and this magnificent Rose Bowl's last-second win over USC are the greatest of all Texas victories.

The Texas secondary of Aaron Ross, Cedric Griffin, Michael Huff and Michael Griffin were brilliant in coverage and saved touchdowns at least four times by my accounts by their sure tackles.

USC's receiver Dwayne Jarrett was the best player I saw all year against the Longhorns. He survived a brutal collision by Michael Griffin and Tarell Brown to score a brilliant catch and dive into the end zone. Brown suffered a broken arm on the play.

But Vince Young's 200 yards rushing and 267 yards passing without an interception is the most sensational individual performance I've ever seen by a Texas player against a great opponent.

After the game, by chance the group I traveled with ended up at the hotel that was hosting the Trojan "victory" party. As we ate our late snacks in the quiet of the restaurant there were tired smiles from all of us, because we knew just what the magnificent silence meant -- The Texas Longhorns were the 2005 football National Champions!

Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at

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