Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Texas is now No. 1

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPAll season the USC Trojans were at the top of the rankings, while the Longhorns felt that they were the best team in the land. Now it's official


Vince Young bounced on his toes, trying to buy himself some time and searching frantically for a way to win a championship.

And then he took off.

With the national title down to a final play, fourth down and 5 yards to go, Young scrambled untouched for an 8-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left and the No. 2 Longhorns stunned No. 1 Southern California 41-38 in the Rose Bowl on Wednesday night.

"Do whatever it takes," Young said.

He did it all -- and made sure that Texas was second no more to USC and its Heisman Trophy twins, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.

It was the ultimate revenge for Young, the bitterly disappointed runner-up to Bush for the Heisman Trophy last month.

At the Heisman presentation, Young had a blank stare and reluctantly clapped after he lost in a landslide to Bush. After winning the biggest team prize of all, he beamed with a satisfied smile, hugging anyone he could find.

On a night when he ran for 200 yards and passed for 267 more, Young capped a performance that Texas fans will remember forever by scoring his third TD and running for a 2-point conversion to end Southern Cal's 34-game winning streak and deny the Trojans an unprecedented third straight national championship.

"It's so beautiful," Young said as he received the MVP crystal. "Don't you think that's beautiful? It's coming home all the way to Austin, Texas."

The Longhorns were a unanimous No. 1 in the final AP Top 25 and won the Bowl Championship Series title with the victory in the Rose Bowl.

"This is what it's all about, 41-38 in the final game," said Leinart, the Trojans quarterback and Heisman winner a year ago. "You couldn't ask for anything better. This was a great football game. We gave our hearts, they gave their hearts, and they came out on top."

The Longhorns (13-0) won their 20th in a row. USC (12-1) lost for the first time since a triple-overtime defeat to California on Sept. 27, 2003. Its 34-game winning streak is tied for sixth all-time in Division I-A, behind Oklahoma's 47-game run from 1953-1957.

"Well, we couldn't stop them when we had to," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "The quarterback ran all over the place.

"This is their night," he said. "It's wonderful doing what we've been doing. We didn't get it done."

After the trophy presentation, Young draped his arms around two teammates' shoulders and the three of them sang "We are the champions."

Later, he ran into Leinart and Bush as the USC players walked past the Texas locker room and greeted each with a hug.

Texas coach Mack Brown took Bush aside near the entrance to the locker room and told him, "I thought it was a classy game. Nobody could stop anybody."

When the game was over, Texas players streamed onto the field with the Longhorns' first outright national title since 1969. Young stood on the sideline in a sea of falling confetti, arm raised toward the crowd, and senior tackle William Winston unfurled a big, white Longhorns flag

While the Longhorns' band blared "The Eyes of Texas" in front of a sea of burnt orange, the USC players looked startled. Some put their hands to their heads, while others dejectedly took off their helmets.

Said Leinart: "I still think we're a better football team. They just made the plays in the end."

Leinart did his part in his final college game while Bush was less than his best. Leinart passed for 365 yards, and his 22-yard TD strike to Dwyane Jarrett put USC ahead 38-26 with 6:42 left.

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