Hollywood isn't known for surprise endings. Then again, Vince Young doesn't live in L.A.
Pulling a page from the same script Southern California used to beat Notre Dame earlier this year, Young put Texas on his shoulders and ran the Longhorns to their first national championship in 36 years.
Young's 8-yard scramble for a touchdown with 19 seconds left completed a fourth-quarter rally Wednesday that stunned two-time defending national champion USC, 41-38, at the Rose Bowl, only miles from the Trojans' campus.
"This is really special for the University of Texas and the people of Texas," said Longhorns Coach Mack Brown, whose team survived four fumbles (one lost), a missed extra-point and a missed field goal.
"It's really surreal when you're in the fourth quarter and you're down two scores and you still think you can win. But we never ever thought we couldn't win."
No. 2 Texas (13-0) trailed 38-26 with 6:42 to play.
The decisive score was set up by a decision by USC Coach Pete Carroll that will be scrutinized and questioned for years. Carroll's Trojans were poised to carve a piece of college football history with a third consecutive national title when, with 2:13 to play, they faced fourth-and-2 at the Longhorns' 45-yard line.
Go, Carroll said.
Texas stopped LenDale White a yard short.
"It was exactly the thing to do right there," Carroll said. "We get that, we win the football game. It's not even close. In our thinking, you're going for it all the time."
It was the beginning of the end of USC's dynasty discussion, for Young could not be stopped.
In the same stadium where he rallied his team a year ago against Michigan, he proved every bit as difficult for top-ranked USC (12-1) to defend. Young passed for 267 yards and rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns, and on the final drive offensive coordinator Greg Davis kept the ball in his hand every play.
The Longhorns needed 11 plays on the game-winning 56-yard drive. Young passed seven times, ran it four. Almost every play came against a USC blitz.
USC kept the drive alive. A 7-yard pass from Young to Quan Cosby left a fourth down, but the Trojans were flagged for an inadvertent face-mask penalty and a first down at USC's 46.
It came down to fourth-and-5 from USC's 8 after Young's slant pass to Limas Sweed in the end zone was narrowly incomplete on third down.
Young drifted left in the pocket, then looked right and saw only one defender. He quickly erased the angle and got to the corner of the end zone.
Then he ran in a two-point , the final points of a shootout that lived up to all of its pregame hype. The teams combined for 79 points and 1,130 yards.
"I don't want to take away from the Texas championship football team, but that's an extraordinary football player," Carroll said of Young. "We walk out of here very disappointed. We thought we had a chance to win. But on this night, it's Texas' night."
Texas has its first national title since claiming back-to-back crowns in 1969 and 1970.
Gone was USC's 34-game winning streak. Despite White's 124 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, the Trojans lost for the first time since mid-2003.
They did not go down with one last gasp. USC got the ball back on its 30 with 16 seconds to go. One pass from Matt Leinart to Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush got 27 yards, but Leinart's next pass to Dwayne Jarrett was out of bounds.
And the Trojans were out of time.
As postgame fireworks dissipated and confetti dropped at the Rose Bowl, Texas fans chanted, "One more year! One more year!" at Young, a junior quarterback who may declare for this year's NFL draft.
He may not have another year to give the Longhorns, but this one will live for a while - especially in Hollywood.