With a sea of orange wearing fans in attendance, the Texas Longhorns arrived aiming to snatch another close game away in Los Angeles. Approximately 85,000 roaring fans filled the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, as the #5 USC Trojans won a thriller against #25 Texas, who tried to recapture the mystique of their 2006 Rose bowl upset win.
Rankings matter little when these two teams match up. The Longhorns always bring that Texas swagger to L.A., and Saturday they didn’t disappoint. The Trojans struck fast with another monster game from junior wide receiver Deontay Burnett, who took a 15-yard touchdown catch from sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold. Texas responded quickly with a defensive score from defensive back DeShon Elliott, who intercepted a Darnold pass and rambled down the sidelines to tie the game.
USC kept a lead for most of the game, but Texas stayed close. Just like in 2006, the Trojan faithful men, women, and children alike, sensed defeat when Texas took the lead late, as Longhorns wide receiver Armani Foreman caught a 17-yard touchdown pass, going ahead 17-14. Even worse, USC had under a minute to make something happen.
Just when the Texas fans felt a possibility, with less than a minute on the clock, the scrappy Trojans fought back to tie the game and create overtime off the legs of rookie kicker Chase McGrath.
In overtime, Texas had a chance to take the lead and possibly win the game, when USC linemen Christian Rector made what could be the most important defensive play of the year by ripping the ball from freshman quarterback Ehlinger as he tried to score.
Big plays like that change the momentum of a game. The west had too much of a rifleman in Darnold, who made quick and accurate shots to a super talented core of receivers and running backs. USC marched down the field, setting up a big 31-yard field goal by Chase McGrath that gave the Trojans the win and a 3-0 record.
Burnett has been outrageous. In three games, he has amassed 24 catches for 386 yards and four touchdowns. Burnett excels in key moments when the pressure to win or fail, catch or drop the pass is immense.
“People ask me about the catches. Honestly, it’s just my craft, my training,” said Burnett, whose game-tying touchdown catch put the Trojans back in the game with time running out. “I’m just big on preparation. I prepare for big moments like these,” added Burnett as he ran into the tunnel with teammates. The defense stepped up big on the goal line and the special teams improved, allowing no returns for a touchdown.
Texas fans walked away from the game dejected and disappointed. They talked about what went wrong and how close they were to stealing another one from Los Angeles. Games like this can give your pre-maturing grey hairs. This time, the USC fans were a happy group and will live to fight-on another day. The Trojans will head to Berkeley, CA, as they face the Cal Bears on Saturday, September 23rd, at 12:30 p.m. PST