Texas-USC Hollywood remake not quite as good as the original

From ESPN - September 17, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- This was no sequel of their old Hollywood classic from a decade ago, with the brightest stars on both sidelines and two of the game's most-storied programs putting on an unforgettable show.

But this remake had plenty of big moments, an ultimately satisfying follow-up for anyone who wanted to see USC and Texas again at the center of a national showcase.

Chase McGrath, a walk-on freshman kicker from nearby Orange County, booted two critical field goals including a 43-yarder in the second overtime to lift fourth-ranked USC to an thrilling 27-24 victory over Texas on Saturday night.

It was the first meeting between the two teams since Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush captivated the nation in their 2006 national championship game at the Rose Bowl that ended with the Longhorns ending USC's 34-game winning streak for their first national title in 36 years.

Indeed, the nostalgia for that game was rich Saturday: Leinart was honored for his College Hall of Fame induction at the end of the first quarter and Young taunted USC fans with "Hook'em Horns" hand signs before the game. Former USC All-American linebacker Rey Maualuga, now with the Miami Dolphins, even came back to lead the Trojans out onto the field before kickoff.

"We knew it was important to our fan base," USC head coach Clay Helton said, "but it was 12 years ago."

Instead, a kicker and the Trojans -- and not an otherworldly quarterback and the Longhorns -- were the heroes of this one.

McGrath's first field goal, from 31 yards with time expiring in regulation, helped tie the score at 17-17 and send the game into overtime, saving USC from a shocking upset at the hands of a Longhorns team that had lost to Maryland on its home field two weeks ago.

"I always feel like you are going to have one of these games when you are trying to win a championship," Helton said. "That's what great teams do, they are going to have one of these games and they find a way to win."

In front of the first sellout crowd at venerable Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 2014, an audience that at times seemed just as electric for the visiting Longhorns, the Trojans seemed to have finally run out of ways in the final minute of the fourth quarter.

But down 17-14 with 39 seconds left, Sam Darnold shook off a largely uneven performance to put together the kind of drive that has made him an early Heisman frontrunner. His jump pass, on second-and-10 from USC's 48, resulted in a 21-yard completion to freshman running back Stephen Carr that got the Trojans into position for the tying kick.


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