The Cerebral Vortex
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27 Dec 2007 - 12:38 Pacific...

    I am sitting here at my house in Eugene, weeks of vacation from work and my wife slaving away at the roaster, with a whiskey and Coke and ESPN Classic to keep me entertained. The final minutes of the 1997 Arizona State-Ohio State Rose Bowl are on right now. Germaine hits Stanley with :46 left in the 4th, 17-14 Sun Devils as the Buckeyes drive into field-goal territory. Germaine lofts it up to the endzone... penalty flag on the play... fifteen yards and Ohio State is back in business...

    Coming up on the channel is the game many purport to be the "greatest championship game ever"... the 2006 Rose Bowl between USC and Texas. I plan on coming back here regularly to reminisce about Rose Bowls past as Leinart and Young heave the pigskin in the Pasadena air... Heisman winners abound, and history awaits!

 

 

27 Dec 2007 - 13:14 Pacific...

     USC just recovered a forced fumble on their first punt... 13:14 left in the first quarter. Leinart hands off to Bush, gets the first down, Cedric Griffin forcing him out of bounds after bouncing outside. Vince Young impatiently awaits his chance to come into the game and shine. Keith Jackson calls the play, 12:50 to go in the first... Leinart to Perkins, great completion by the fullback as he takes a helmet-to-helmet hit by Griffin which knocks the bucket off Perkins and sends him to the sidelines...

     Leinart scrambles out of bounds as the Longhorns bring the pressure on first and goal. Flag on the field for a late hit of Leinart after he goes out of bounds. The loss of two turns into a gain of two with the penalty, and USC gets first down back. LenDale White takes the handoff from Leinart and dances into the endzone... 6-0 USC... the extra point from Mario Danelo makes it 7-0 early, 12:27 left in the first, the Trojans converting after the Longhorn turnover to go ahead...

     Living in Oregon has awakened a greater understanding of the Pac-10 side of this traditional Pac-10/Big Ten rivalry. I was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and raised -- even after moving to Jackson Hole, Wyoming at age five -- to be a lifelong Wisconsin sports fan. The Packers, the Brewers, the Bucks, all of the Badgers' teams... that was fandom to me. But I grew to love Wyoming while I lived there, and I am now becoming increasingly enamored with the Ducks as a fan. Hemogoblin talked about Oregon's Rose Bowl history. Unfortunately, we will probably never be able to see footage of Oregon's only Rose Bowl victory, the 14-0 drubbing of Penn. Only the third Rose Bowl in the game's long history, All-American quarterback Shy Huntington led the heavy-underdog Ducks against the Quakers from Penn. Holding the Ivy League champions in the first half, who had the momentum but could convert nothing (including a failed 29-yard field-goal attempt after driving to the Oregon 3), Oregon came out in the second half and shook off the dust.

     Huntington, in the iron-man era of college football, led the Ducks down the field in the third quarter after his first of three interceptions of Penn's quarterback. The drive was capped with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Huntington to R.L. Tegert. Oregon continued to stymie the Quakers, and it was Huntington's second interception of Penn that led to the second clinching touchdown. Powering down the field, the Ducks scored off a one-yard Huntington run over the goal line. Shy converted both of the point-after attempts, playing a crucial role in Oregon's only Rose Bowl victory and capping an undefeated season for Oregon...

     He could not muster the same magic three years later, however, as Ivy League champion Harvard defeated the Ducks 7-6 as the 25-yard drop kick attempt (when's the last time we saw one of THOSE attempted?!) by Oregon's Skeet Manerud was ruled no good. While only mustering nine first downs all afternoon, the Crimson's second-quarter touchdown run by Fred Church proved enough to stave the tide of the Oregon offense...

     Vince Young has the ball in the second quarter now, scrambling and completing to Carter inside the USC thirty... I was sitting in an Irish pub in Galena, Illinois, celebrating my brother-in-law's 21st birthday, when this game was going on live. What an astonishing display by two dominant teams... if only we had that this season, eh?

 

 

27 Dec 2007 - 13:52 Pacific...

    Even painful football is better than no football... that got me thinking. This can take us right into the rest of Oregon's Rose Bowl appearances, as well. I just finished watching the crushing Arizona State defeat in 1997 when, after Jake Plummer dove into the endzone with less than two minutes remaining, Ohio State came back to score a touchdown with nineteen seconds remaining. Oregon won its first Rose Bowl appearance... and it is now ninety years and counting since Oregon won what would end up its only Rose Bowl victory. After Huntington and the boys failed in 1920, it would be thirty-eight years before the Ducks traveled down from Eugene to the Grandaddy of them All again...

    That 1958 game, against the Big Ten champion Ohio State Buckeyes, again saw the Ducks lose on a failed last-gasp play which allowed their opponent to persevere. Before, Oregon had faced off against Ivy League champions Penn and Harvard; but, since 1947, the Rose Bowl game had been set to feature the champions of the Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences. Oregon came in, once again, a heavy underdog. The Buckeyes had won three of the past four Big Ten titles; they had won two previous Rose Bowls during the decade. Ohio State came out early, Woody Hayes employing a run-heavy offense which sprang quarterback Frank Kremblas over the line for a one-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.

    Oregon came back as valiantly as possible, marching down the field in the second quarter on an eighty-yard, ten-play touchdown drive capped by Jim Shanley's five-yard touchdown run with 12:25 left in the first half. Oregon's defense would hold Ohio State through the third quarter, but a 34-yard Buckeye field goal by Don Sutherlin would prove the difference. Oregon missed its own 34-yard attempt with five minutes left in the third quarter; it fumbled the ball on the Buckeye 24 after completing a 23-yard pass; and quarterback Jack Crabtree's fourth-down pass to Ron Stover fell incomplete with :47 remaining in the contest to stave off the upset. Stover finished the game with 144 of the Ducks' 177 receiving yards, a record for Pacific Coast Conference participants at the time. But Stover's heroics could not help him make the one catch that would have given the Ducks any hope of defeating the more highly-touted Buckeyes...

    Another thirty-seven years lay between Oregon's failed 1958 attempt at Rose Bowl glory and its next chance... 

 

 

27 Dec 2007 - 14:17 Pacific...

    Back to the 2006 Rose Bowl, which served as the BCS Championship game... Dwayne Jarrett just caught a Leinart beauty, down to the Texas 22, and then turned around and got another five yards on a screen off the no-huddle quickly after. Who hears about this guy much anymore?! 11:09 left in the third quarter, and USC gets a timeout just before the play clock ran out. Time to think about Dwayne Jarrett... he only has six receptions in his six games this season, his rookie year in the NFL. Effectively ushering out the Keyshawn Johnson era in Carolina after being the Panthers' second-round pick in 2007, Jarrett has yet to break out as an NFL receiver... possibly because he has never had one quarterback with which to build a rapport.

    LenDale White barrels down to inside the five, stiff-arming Michael Huff with ease before getting taken down for first and goal. One more play, and White has another touchdown to make it 16-16. The extra-point miss by Texas earlier has had the announcers all atwitter as USC lines up, Danelo punching through the PAT to give the Trojans a one-point lead...

    Texas starts on its own 20, 10:36 left in the game. Vince Young runs to the right for seven... then Jamaal Charles burst up the middle to get the first and take it to the 42... down inside ten minutes, and Texas is pushing the contest down the field quickly. Young takes the shotgun snap and gets down to the USC 35; he could have taken it even further if he hadn't gotten his body ahead of his feet and tripped. Linus Sweed takes a Young pass and picks up another first down. I can barely type fast enough to keep up with the game right now. Charles again, down to the fourteen on another first-down burst up the middle. The Longhorns are in the redzone, and Young fakes the handoff before keeping to the right and powering into the endzone for another Texas touchdown... 22-17 Texas, with the extra point attempt good this time to give Mack Brown's squad a six-point lead... 8:34 left in the third quarter...

    I am trying to recall a happier Rose Bowl memory for myself out of the miasma of time. I still have to say the penultimate moment, in my lifetime, would have to be Wisconsin making it back to Pasadena in 1994 for the first time since its 1963 Rose Bowl defeat to -- there's a name we keep seeing -- USC, 42-37. I had never seen any of my favored sports teams make anything remotely as big as the Rose Bowl before. The Packers were still stuck behind the 49ers and Cowboys as Favre nestled into the starting role in Green Bay; the Brewers had been horrible since going to the World Series -- two months before my birth in December 1982; and the Bucks were no Bulls...

    I had a friend at school who was a big UCLA fan. I remember the ribbings back and forth between the two of us as the build-up to the big game escalated. Wisconsin had gotten into the game based on its having been away from Pasadena longer: the Badgers and Buckeyes sported identical 9-1-1 records, 6-1-1 conference records, and each team's tie came against the other. But Ohio State had last gone to the Rose Bowl in 1985; in fact, Ohio State had won two Rose Bowls and been to eight since Wisconsin last traveled to the Big Game...

    UCLA scored first on a 27-yard Bjorn Merten field goal...

    And Reggie Bush bursts within five minutes left in the third quarter, and Danelo converts the PAT, and USC goes back up over Texas 24-23 with 4:07 left in the third quarter...

    ... but Wisconsin prevailed on the legs of MVP Brent Moss. He reeled off two first-half touchdown runs to put the Badgers up 14-3 at halftime. Moss would have his fifteen (or sixty, as it were...) minutes of fame in the 1994 Rose Bowl, rushing for 158 yards total and those two touchdowns as Wisconsin held off record-breaking J.J. Stokes (14 rec, 178 yds) and the UCLA Bruins, 21-16... eleven months later, Moss was arrested with less than half a gram of crack, tainting his football career. Never drafted, Moss was cut from Miami Dolphins training camp before signing on with St. Louis in 1995. He rushed for 90 yards on 22 carries in his only action during his only NFL season...

    For that one shining New Year's Day, however, he was the biggest hero I had ever seen in my eleven years of life to that date... 

 

 

27 Dec 2007 - 15:04 Pacific...

    Reggie Bush dives into the endzone to put USC up 31-23 in the fourth quarter... USC seems poised to add to its legacy with a third-straight national championship. The Rose Bowl was electric with both teams' supporters. 11:13 left in the game, I sit here waiting for Texas to get the ball back on this ESPN Classic broadcast... Young gets the ball back, and now we are reviewing the phantom fumble/incompletion call with 11:10 left...

    So we will go back to other Rose Bowls past... we have gone through Oregon's other Rose Bowl appearances, so how about heading to the last? Oregon was the next representative for the Pac-10 after UCLA lost that 1994 Rose Bowl to Wisconsin, facing the Nittany Lions of Penn State on New Year's Day 1995. Oregon had yet another vaunted offense; but Paterno came into Pasadena with a better one. With Kerry Collins handing the ball off to Ki-Jana Carter all afternoon, Penn State was able to answer all the Ducks' strikes. Oregon quarterback Danny O'Neil ended the game with 456 yards passing on 41-of-61 attempts with two touchdowns, setting thirteen Rose Bowl records... but it was his two interceptions which made the difference. Carter ran for 156 yards and three scores of his own, including an 81-yard burst on the first play of the game. Oregon stood tall against the Nittany Lions, the game still knotted at fourteen-all in the third quarter. But then Carter took over, getting his second and third touchdowns in a 111-second span at the end of the third quarter...

    Oregon acquitted itself well, holding the number-two team in the country under its offensive averages and punishing its defense for some gaudy numbers... but in the end, the gaudiest number of them all proved the eighteen-point margin of victory for Paterno and Penn State... 

 

 

27 Dec 2007 - 15:20 Pacific...

    No rest for the weary... eight minutes left approaching and USC has the ball back on its 21... a pass to the fullback gets the Trojans out around midfield for the first down and big yardage... and then a blatant roughing of the passer Leinart by Killebrew results in an additional fifteen on the end of the reception. Second and one, Texas 23, under seven left. Leinart winds up and hits Jarrett, who muscles past two Longhorn defenders who collided and stretches into the endzone to put USC up by eleven. Tarell Brown and Michael Griffin collided in midair as they went up with Dwayne Jarrett for the ball, and both are injured on the field... 37-23 USC, awaiting word on the two injured Longhorns and Danelo's extra-point attempt.

     I had two more personal moments of Rose Bowl glory as Wisconsin won two straight in 1999 and 2000. In 1999, the Badgers once again faced the Bruins in what effectively amounted to a home contest for UCLA. With rushing sensation Ron Dayne, veteran quarterback Mike Samuel, and Chris Chambers at wide receiver, the Wisconsin offense was a dominant force. At 10-1, Wisconsin had the opportunity to have its greatest record in school history with a victory. Against a highly-touted Bruins team led by Cade McNown at quarterback, the Badgers bent but didn't break on defense; they allowed 418 yards through the air, but Dayne stole the show as Wisconsin prevailed 38-31. Dayne scored all four Wisconsin offensive touchdowns, rushing for 246 yards on a 9.1 YPC average -- he fell one yard shy of tying Charles Davis' 1980 Rose Bowl rushing record...

     Vince Young scrambles again on a seventeen-yard touchdown run with 4:03 left to bring Texas within 38-32... and the PAT makes it a five-point game for the Longhorns. Vince is simply electric in this game... the Davey O'Brien award winner and first player in NCAA history to have 2500 passing and 1000 rushing yards in the same season is putting on a clinic for the direction of college football in the next decade...

     The Badgers would return to the Rose Bowl to face Stanford in 2000. Dayne, the Heisman Trophy winner that season, led Wisconsin into the Rose Bowl as the all-time NCAA rushing leader. With Brooks Bollinger replacing Mike Samuel under center, it was once again Ron Dayne stealing the show at the Rose Bowl. The Cardinal, led by tenacious coach Tyrone Willingham, have intentions on an upset, holding early 3-0 and 9-3 leads. But then Dayne took over, bursting left for a 64-yard touchdown and a Wisconsin lead that would never shrink... with the 17-9 victory, Wisconsin became the first -- and as yet only -- Big Ten team to win two consecutive Rose Bowls...

    Texas gets the ball back around midfield with 2:09 left; the Longhorns have two timeouts as it snaps from its own 44. Young takes the snap from the shotgun and dumps the ball, ultimately losing a few yards. Second and twelve or thirteen... Young under pressure again, throwing the ball away at the feet of his receiver as a Trojan is wrapped around Young's legs. Third and twelve, 1:35 left... Young in the shotgun again, rolls right, and completes short of the first down by four yards. But then a late-hit penalty flag comes in to give Texas new life... or, rather, a face-mask call. Is it five or fifteen? Five... incidental... but it is enough for the first down. A fresh set for the last-gasp Longhorns...

    Young under shotgun again, USC 46, throws on the slant... the ball pops out, but the official rules the ball down by contact... good call by the referee on the sideline. Texas must get the endzone, down five points. Wasting time on the review of Carter's non-fumble, the referee finally gets the call right. Second down, :57 left on the game, one yard for the first down, thirty-six to the endzone. Texas gets to the line... and pauses. The officials add seven seconds to the clock. Young runs for the first down and steps out of bounds at the 31 with :53 left. 29 of 37 for 250 yards; 17 for 187 on the ground... what a cerebral college quarterback...

    Young dumps off for another first down to Carter, who gets as much yardage as he can down inside the 14 before stepping out of bounds with 45 seconds left. Young heaves the ball to Sweed in the corner of the endzone, but Sweed can't come up with the catch inbounds after Thomas tipped it slightly. 39 seconds left, second and ten, the protection breaks down and Young bulls to the nine. If only David Pino hadn't missed an extra point and a field-goal attempt, Texas would only need the field goal to win... but now, third and five with thirty seconds left, Young must find a way to get Texas in the endzone. Shotgun... tipped pass... one play to decide it all, fourth and five, 26 seconds left, this is where legends are born...

    And Young delivers on his promise, creating a Lone Star legend as he scrambles right and dances into the endzone. Nineteen seconds left; the same amount of time left when Ohio State put the dagger through Plummer and the Sun Devils. The Trojans call timeout, their last, as Texas lines up for the two-point conversion to make it a three-point lead. What will Mack Brown do? Young comes back onto the field to line up for the two-point try; he bulls straight ahead and bowls over to put his team up by a field goal...  

 

 

27 Dec 2007 - 16:08 Pacific...

    I knew this would come as a shocker to everyone, but... Texas held on to win the national championship!!! Vince Young goes out an MVP, then goes on to get snubbed by his hometown team and get drafted third by the city's FORMER team...

    Come out with some more Rose Bowl memories, and I will be happy to write further about them!!! 

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