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A win to go to the Rose Bowl is a good win.
A win over your archrival to go to the Rose Bowl is a great win.
Thanks to a Goodwin, UCLA got a great win in 1993.
When John Robinson returned to USC in 1993, replacing Larry Smith, he vowed to beat the Trojans' two rivals, UCLA and Notre Dame. Unsuccessful earlier in the season in South Bend, Robinson would have his chance to split the difference, when the Bruins came to the Coliseum to play USC.
But this wasn't just a chance for Robinson to get one of the two wins he emphatically stated he'd get. This was much bigger. Sometimes it's merely bragging rights that's at stake for this game, but in 1993, the Pac-10 championship was on the line for the first time in five years, and a trip to the Rose Bowl for both teams.
The last time UCLA was playing for the conference crown in this game was In 1987 and 1988, UCLA just needed to beat USC and wrap up a spot in the Granddaddy of ‘em All. Both times, with Troy
Aikman at the helm, the Bruins failed.
This time, with a quarterback that will never be confused with Aikman, Wayne Cook, the Bruins had a chance to exorcise some demons. Cook had missed the Bruins' game the previous week against Arizona State, and the UCLA offense sputtered in that game, mustering only a field goal.
But in the first quarter against USC, the UCLA offense looked good, with Cook scoring on a five-yard run and then, later in the quarter, freshman running back Skip Hicks also adding a short touchdown run, and UCLA had a 14-0 lead.
Freshman kicker Bjorn Merten, who was in the middle of an All-American campaign in his first year, gave the Bruins all the momentum heading into intermission, nailing a 47-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-0, as the second-quarter clock expired.
Terry Donahue and his troops had plenty of reason to be jacked going into the locker rooms.
Still, USC, with Rob Johnson at quarterback and Johnnie Morton, who earlier in the year became the Pac-10's all-time leading receiver, surely wouldn't let the Bruins' offense get all the headlines, and wouldn't let the UCLA defense off the hook.
Johnson led the opening drive of the second half for the Trojans, engineering the first points the Trojans would score on the day, a 1-yard run by Shawn Walters.
A few minutes later, the Trojans were back on the board, a nine-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Johnny McWilliams, and the Trojans were back in business, down just 17-14.
Quiet for much of the day, the Pac-10 Offensive Co-Player of the Year, J.J. Stokes, who like Morton, had made Los Angeles the Receiver Capital of College Football, finally made a dent in the Trojans secondary, catching a 17-yard touchdown pass from Cook, pushing the Bruin lead to 24-14 in the waning moments of the third quarter.
But not more than two minutes later, the Trojans, who had been picking on Teddy Lawrence, the much-maligned UCLA cornerback, struck, to trim the lead again, 24-21, with plenty of time in the fourth quarter to take the lead.
A Bruin drive ended with Merten kicking a 20-yard field goal. At the time, the field goal was a huge cushion for the Bruins, forcing the Trojans to score a touchdown to win.
UCLA got the ball back from USC, and Donahue had a chance to step on the Trojans' throat. But like so many games under Donahue, they went conservative, and USC got the ball back.
The Trojans had a long way to go, and a Bruin defense, which had abused Johnson for much of the day. UCLA safety Donavan Gallatin, who had four sacks, was ready to bring the heat.
The problem for the UCLA defense was that Lawrence couldn't hang with the Trojan receivers.
A drive that started at the USC 19 with 2:30 left in the game was making the Blue and Gold faithful queasy. It was too reminiscent of many UCLA-USC games before, where the Bruins would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
It looked like it would happen again. In just four plays, the Trojans went 78 yards, one a 33-yarder from Johnson to Morton, another a 43-yarder to Ken Grace. Now at the Bruin three-yard line, with less than a minute to play, Johnson had the ball and a chance to destroy the Bruin psyche, a chance to end the Bruins modest two-game winning streak in the rivalry.
The Bruin defense was tired, but with a short field they finally showed some fight, something they hadn't in the previous four plays.
Walters took the handoff on first down, getting stopped for no gain.
Walters took the second-down handoff, gaining a yard.
The tension in the Coliseum was thick. The ever-stoic Terry Donahue was about as nervous as you could ever imagine him, which was still pretty stoic, with his arms crossed, head tilted toward the game clock.
The Trojans broke the huddle, two more chances, two more yards, to get the touchdown they would need to tie, only needing the PAT to win it, send themselves to Pasadena, and crush the collective heart of UCLA.
Johnson took the snap, and rolled right. He spotted Tyler Cashman in the back of the end zone. UCLA defensive back Marvin Goodwin read Johnson's eyes. He knew exactly where Johnson was throwing.As Johnson released the ball, Goodwin broke on it. Cashman was ready for the catch that would make him a Trojan legend. In stepped Goodwin, the ball hitting his arms and his chest, nestled and tucked against his #22 jersey.
Interception. Bruins ball. Roses.
A series that so often taunted the Bruin faithful, UCLA being so close so many times, only to cruelly find a way to lose on so many occasions, had finally made a turn for the blue.
As soon as Goodwin picked off the pass, he leaped over a Trojan player laying on the end zone turf, and sprinted to the Bruin sideline. Every player in white jerseys, gold pants, coaches in blue shirts, were somewhere on the field, celebrating the interception.
Roses quickly appeared in the hands, and the teeth, of the Bruin players.
When the clock struck 0:00, half the UCLA players went to the end zone near the tunnel to celebrate with one set of Bruin fans. The other half went to the other end zone, where the students and other fans sat.
UCLA had finally gotten over the Beat-USC-for-the-Rose-Bowl hump. It had snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Trojans when the Rose Bowl was on the line for both teams.
Big stakes, players who become heroes, and a last-minute dramatic play that wins it. The game in 1993 had it all.