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ON THIS NIGHT, TEXAS JUST BETTER.

Byline: KEVIN MODESTI

PASADENA - The truth will be hard for USC fans to swallow. For a split second there, they didn't have to.

A moment after Matt Leinart's final pass sailed out of bounds and the clock struck :00, the stadium's message board flashed ``University of Southern California Trojans, 2006 BCS National Champions!'' - before somebody pulled the correct lever and the screen switched to ``University of Texas Longhorns ...''

The truth will be hard for USC players to believe. For at least a minute there, one of them refused to.

As Texas players danced on the field and hero Vince Young struck a Heisman Trophy pose, Leinart said, ''I still think we're a better team'' - before he added, ''but they made the plays tonight.''

The truth is hard to reconcile with the past three years. But after what just went on in the Rose Bowl, it has to be acknowledged.

Texas was the better team Wednesday night.

USC has been better many times, in the 34 games before this, for most of the era of Leinart, Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll.

Not this time.

The Trojans marshaled all of their offensive weapons but met their match in Young and a superior defense.

The Longhorns came from behind in the last minute to win 41-38 in front of 93,986 fans in a sensational football game.

For the half of the Rose Bowl dressed in burnt orange, it was proof that the Longhorns were the ''now'' team and the Trojans had been living off recent past glory.

For the many in the crowd wearing Young's No. 10, it was proof that the Longhorns quarterback is the best player in America and Bush is a bogus Heisman winner.

For the rest, it was a question of whether to believe it.

After this one game, this one night, there wasn't much choice.

USC's 50-points-a-game offense opens up because defenses have to concentrate so much on Reggie Bush, who can run for a touchdown from anywhere. Texas' 50-points-a-game offense is triggered by the fact defenses have to worry so much about Vince Young, who can run or throw for a touchdown from anywhere.

Wednesday, Bush troubled the Longhorns less than Young troubled the Trojans.

Bush had his moments, notably another soaring touchdown, this one at the end of a 25-yard run that made it 31-23 Trojans early in the fourth quarter. LenDale White had his, carrying for three touchdowns and 124 yards. Dwayne Jarrett had his, with 10 catches, the main target for Leinart, who threw for 365 yards.

But Young couldn't be stopped by this year's Trojans defense, passing for 267 yards and rushing for 200, including the eight most important yards of the college season.

When Young ran to the right pylon for the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left, he capped a game in which he made more of the pivotal plays than his many Trojans counterparts.

In the first half, Vince Young threw a lateral that worked, Selvin Young carrying the ball in for the touchdown that made it 16-7 and said the Trojans were in for a tough game.

Minutes earlier, Bush had thrown a lateral that didn't, his flip after a 37-yard gain falling to the grass for a fumble recovered by the Longhorns.

Even Carroll, for first time in memory, set himself up for second-guessing when he went it on fourth-and-2 at the Longhorns 45 with a little more than two minutes to go and the Trojans leading by five.

The Trojans line and White didn't get it done, the running back's charge coming up 6 inches short of the first down, putting the ball in Young's hands to win or lose the game.

USC has had its day, the past 34 game days, most of the past three years.

But this was Texas' night. The Longhorns were the better team in the Rose Bowl. They had the best player on the field.

Accept it.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Vince Young helped Texas erase a 12-point deficit with six minutes left and led the Longhorns to a comeback in the Rose Bowl.

Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 5, 2006
Words:689
Previous Article:3 GENERATIONS TURNED OUT BUD, MORE.
Next Article:THE FALL OF TROY TEXAS QUARTERBACK RALLIES TEAM TO 41-38 VICTORY, NATIONAL TITLE.


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