Vince Young

The University of Texas

Vince Young made a bold statement, predicting his University of Texas team would defeat mighty Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl. “Right now, I’m very confident,” Young said prior to the game. “Everybody is blowing them up and talking a lot of trash about us, but we’re coming to play.”

They say it ain’t bragging if you can back it up and the 6-5, 230-pound Young certainly delivered, rallying Texas to two fourth quarter touchdowns to upset the Trojans 41-38 and give the Longhorns their first national championship since 1969. He completed 30 of 40 pass attempts for 267 yards and he gained another 200 yards on 19 rushes, the last of which he carried into the end zone for the winning touchdown with just 19 seconds remaining.

It was a thrilling ending to an epic game that saw Young dominate a Southern Cal team that was considered one of the all-time best, a team that came into the Rose Bowl with a 34-game unbeaten streak and two Heisman Trophy winners, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, in the backfield. More than 36 million viewers, the largest TV audience for a college football game in two decades, saw the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams combine for more than 1,100 yards in total offense.

“There were great players all over the board, but (Young) was off the charts,” USC coach Pete Carroll said.

“So often a game that gets the hype like this doesn’t live up to it,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “But I thought this game was better than the hype.”

Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News wrote: “On Wednesday night, Vince Young played the greatest game of college football, considering the opposition and the stakes and the stage and all the talent in the room, anyone has ever played in the whole history of college football. Not one of the best. The best. Ever.”

The Maxwell Club honors Young as the winner of the 69th Maxwell Award as college football player of the year. He is the third Longhorn to receive the Maxwell Award, joining Ricky Williams (1998) and Tommy Nobis (1965) on the list of honorees.

While the Rose Bowl was Young’s masterpiece, his entire 2005 season was a thing of beauty. He led the Longhorns to a 13-0 record, including the win over Southern Cal, and he completed 64 per cent of his pass attempts for 26 touchdowns with an efficiency rating of 168.6. He also rushed for 1,050 yards and scored 13 touchdowns, including four in the Rose Bowl.

On its way to the national championship, Texas won its first Big 12 Conference title since 1966 and Young ran his record as a starting quarterback to 30-2, breaking the school mark for career wins previously held by the great Bobby Layne. Young is the only player in NCAA history to pass for more than 230 yards and rush for more than 250 yards in the same game.

“I feel like he’ll be in the College Football Hall of Fame and he’ll be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame before he gets through,” Brown said. “He is the most competitive human being I’ve ever seen. Nobody in the country is better with the game on the line than Vince Young because he loves the high stakes, he loves the competition.”

Brown believed in Young even when other people questioned the quarterback’s mechanics and his touch as a passer. Young rewarded Brown’s confidence with a great performance in the 2005 Rose Bowl when he ran for four touchdowns and threw a scoring pass to knock off Michigan, 38-37. Young used that game as the springboard into an even better season in ’05.

The big win during the regular season came in September when Texas met Ohio State in Columbus, O. At the time, the Longhorns were ranked No. 2 in the country, Ohio State was ranked No. 4, but the Buckeyes had won 36 consecutive non-conference games on their home field. The Longhorns were dealing with some history of their own: they had lost eight straight games against top 10 opponents.

Ohio State was favored and led 22-17 with three minutes to go. But Young directed a 67-yard drive, which he completed with a perfectly thrown 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Limas Sweed giving Texas a 25-22 victory. It was the fifth time in his career that Young rallied his team to win in the fourth quarter. The Rose Bowl made it six.

“There is no pressure on me,” Young said. “I’m just playing a game, being a quarterback.”