Jackson, Fouts Clearly on Top of Their Games

Four hours, 71 points and seemingly a million Vince Young yards into Wednesday night's Rose Bowl, with Young lining up for the play that would decide the so-hyped "Game of the Century," Keith Jackson took a deep breath and set the stage.

"Fourth and five," Jackson said. "I kind of feel like Joe [Paterno]. I'm too old for this."

A day after Paterno lived long enough to witness Penn State's 26-23 triple-overtime victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl, Young and the Texas Longhorns had driven everyone, young and old, to the edge of nervous collapse, with USC's two-year national-championship reign and 34-game winning streak teetering on the brink with 26 seconds on the clock.

"Fourth and five," Jackson repeated, pausing either for effect, or to grab another breath, or both. "The national championship is on the line right here."

Young fielded the snap, looked for a receiver, found none open, the ultimate good news-bad news predicament for the Trojans.

Young pulled the ball down and started to run.

"He's going for the corner!" Jackson exclaimed, uttering the words that will haunt USC coaches, players and fans forever.

"HE'S GOT IT!" Young got the right corner of the end zone, his third touchdown of the game and the go-ahead points in Texas' eventual 41-38 victory.

Young completed 30 of 40 passes for 267 yards. He also rushed for 200 yards, setting a Rose Bowl record for total offense by a player, and carried Texas to its first national title in 35 years.

He's got it -- and, really, what more could anyone say about it?

Dan Fouts gave it a try. With a sideline camera zooming in on Texas Coach Mack Brown, Fouts mused, "And Mack is going to tie Vince Young to the goal post in Austin so he can't leave this team next year and go on to that other league."

Alluding to Young's similar all-purpose performance against Michigan in last year's Rose Bowl, Fouts added, "How about seven touchdowns rushing for Vince Young in two games here in Pasadena? He might want to look for some real estate around here."

Pause.

"He owns this field." Jackson: "He'll probably have enough [money] to buy it."

Fouts: "At some point he will in his future. My goodness!"

ABC's broadcast team of Jackson and Fouts proved once again why it is regarded as the best in college football. Fouts was sharp and on point all game, and funny when warranted. Looking at a graphic listing the top winning streaks in college football history and seeing Yale with a pair of 37-game streaks in the late 1800s, Fouts deadpanned, "Nobody wanted to play Yale back then." Jackson was the right curmudgeon to oversee these proceedings, which had been hyped to death by a media corps left with nothing else to do for the previous month.

A few minutes before kickoff, Jackson spoke for millions already suffering overload fatigue when he told Fouts, "So much hype has been heaped on this college football game, Dan, I'm beginning to have a hard time swallowing."

Finally, when the opening kickoff did arrive, Jackson welcomed the moment with a half-sarcastic, "My only expression at this point is: We're going to play football! Yippee! I thought we'd never get here."

Jackson and Fouts made quick work of the game's biggest controversy, whether or not Young's knee was down before he flipped the ball to Selvin Young, who scored Texas' first touchdown on the play.

"He's down," Fouts said, referring to Young's knee, as a replay ran. Jackson concurred.

"They're going to have to check this out and take these points off the board," Fouts continued.

You had to figure. Except Texas was now lining up for the point-after try with no official review of the play coming.

"Are they going to get away with it?" Jackson wondered.

Fouts suggested that Texas "kick it quickly. I can't believe they're not reviewing this one. This is huge!"

It wound up being the difference. Yet when sideline reporter Todd Harris had the chance to ask USC Coach Pete Carroll about it at halftime, Harris fumbled, asking only, "Pete, what do you need to fix at halftime?" and "Your quarterback, Matt Leinart, how is he?" It wasn't until the fourth quarter when Jackson mentioned something about an equipment malfunction contributing to the lack of a replay review.

On a night when USC saw much more of Young than it wanted, one more view of the Texas quarterback might have made all the difference.

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