Doc 5: Best national championship runners-up — No. 2 USC

Graham Watson
April 3, 2014
USC v Texas
Reggie Bush and Drew Kelson during the national championship 2006 Rose Bowl between the USC Trojans and the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Wednesday, January 4, 2006. MANDATORY CREDIT:(Robert Seale/Sporting News) DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPH

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.


NO. 2 USC, 2005

The 2006 BCS National Championship Game between USC and Texas is widely considered one of the greatest national championship games in college football history.

USC came into the game with a Division I-leading 34-game winning streak while Texas had the second-longest winning streak at 19 consecutive games.

The year before, USC won the nation championship and it’s quarterback, Matt Leinart, won the Heisman Trophy. A few weeks before the game against Texas, running back Reggie Bush hoisted the Heisman.

The 2004 and 2005 USC teams are considered the best in school history.

Of course, before we go on it’s important to note that these, sadly, those teams were the most disgraced USC teams in school history as well. That 2004 national title was vacated as were many of wins during the 2004 and 2005 seasons as a result of rules broken by Bush. Leinart kept his Heisman, but Bush had to give his back. If USC had beaten Texas in the 2006 national championship game, it probably would have been vacated as well.

But we digress.

USC was ranked No. 1 to start the season, had two Heisman Trophy winners, returned 14 starters, including most of the players from a prolific offense that would finish the 2005 season ranked No. 1 in total offense and No. 2 in scoring offensive with nearly 50 points per game. It beat nine of its 12 opponents by 17 or more points. Eleven players were taken in the NFL Draft.

But none of that was enough to stop Texas quarterback Vince Young from having one of the most tremendous national championship performances in history.

The game went back and forth with teams trading touchdowns. USC had a chance to convert a fourth down late in the fourth quarter that would have sealed the win. However, the Trojans were stopped and Young led the Longhorns to the Trojans 9-yard-line.

Facing fourth-and-5 from the 9-yard line, Young took the shotgun snap, surveyed the field and took off running toward the right sideline. Young got a block from offensive lineman Justin Blalock, which allowed him to race into the end zone for the game-winning score. Young also converted the ensuing two-point conversion.

Texas secured a 41-38 win and handed Leinart just the second loss in his career and his first Rose Bowl loss.

Young was named the game’s offensive MVP and the play was declared the fifth-greatest play in college football history.

Despite the loss — and the tarnished reputation — that USC team was considered one of the best and most talented in college football history.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter