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.
It was Ehlinger’s first start on the road and his inexperienced showed early, with his first three possessions ended with a turnover on downs, an interception, and a fumble. He didn’t get much help either, with senior left tackle Connor Williams — arguably the Horns’ best player — leaving the game in the first quarter because of a knee injury.
But Ehlinger made enough plays to keep it close, squirting out of danger just enough — he was sacked five times and hit countless times more — to keep the Trojans off-balance.
He led the Longhorns on a surprising 14-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Armanti Foreman that gave the Longhorns their first — and only — lead of the night.
“We wouldn’t want it any other way,” Ehlinger said about that final drive. “We were excited.”
Darnold, who threw two more picks, both to Texas safety DeShon Elliott, finished with 397 yards passing and three touchdowns. One of those picks was returned 38 yards for a touchdown with 30 seconds left in the first half, the Longhorns’ only touchdown of the game’s first 59 minutes. For Darnold, it gave him something else to work on before heading to Cal in Week 4.
“We learned a lot of things about our offense,” Darnold said. “Good things, we got to figure out and learn from.”