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For a sixth time, the Fresno State Bulldogs will travel to face the No. 7 University of Southern California Trojans in what most will predict an assume another dominant win for the Trojans. 

When most see these two teams paired together, most go back to their 2005 encounter where No. 16 Fresno State under head coach Pat Hill, where earlier in the season they took Oregon to the brink in Autzen Stadium 37-34. 

The Bulldogs jumped to a 17-0 lead before the Ducks had a 30 point second quarter. Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar located Matt Rivera for a 14 yard touchdown pass to close the gap to three, and a failed onside attempt iced it for the Bulldogs. Fresno State would defeat Boise State Broncos 27-7 for the first time since joining the WAC and were vying for their first WAC championship since 1999. 

Meanwhile, Southern Cal was in the midst of a dynasty. 

The Trojans were on a 32 game winning streak, and with two Heisman candidates in the previous year's winner quarterback Matt Leinart and all purpose athlete at running back Reggie Bush, the whispers were growing that these Trojans were the greatest team of all time, something ESPN would play out having the 2005 Trojans go against the greatest teams of all times to hype the Trojans prior to the 2006 Rose Bowl.

With the game kicking off at 10:15 PM Eastern Standard Time, most fans thought on the East Coast it would be fait accompli that the Trojans would win their 33rd game in a row. However, what transpired was two performances that became overnight sensations, one of the underdog and the other being eventually awarded the Heisman Trophy.


Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

After a Trojan punt to open the game, on Fresno State's first offensive possession of the game, the Bulldogs set the tone early, with senior quarterback Paul Pinegar connecting on five of seven pass attempts. 

On Pinegar's fifth attempt found him dropping back to pass from the Trojan 13-yard line and locating senior wide receiver Devyn McDonald. As McDonald approached the goal line, Trojan safety Scott Ware delivered a hit that forced the ball out. Recovering for the Bulldogs was senior wide receiver Jermaine Jamison for an apparent touchdown. After an official huddle, they confirmed the touchdown on the field to put Fresno State 7-0, the Trojans answered back on a scoring drive of their own. 

The other major storyline that would come after this game was the legendary status of Reggie Bush, and on the ensuing possession Bush demonstrated he was ready to play a major role under the lights. 

After quarterback Matt Leinart located wide receiver Steve Smith for a third down conversion, on the next set a downs Bush went off on an 65-yard dash to the Bulldogs five yard line, setting up running back partner LenDale White on a five yard touchdown score. With the score tied at 7, both teams exchanged punts and the fight for momentum was still up in the air. 

Fresno State recaptured the momentum by scoring touchdowns on their next two possessions. The Bulldogs defense stifled an explosive Trojans offense near the red zone, yielding only two field goals. 

As the half drew to a close, there was that uneasiness settling in The Coliseum that Trojans faithful hadn't felt since the "Bush Push" in South Bend that Fresno State could pull off this upset. It had captured momentum and seemed to be able to handle any counter offensives from the Trojans. 


The Press-Enterprise/Terry Pierson

The Press-Enterprise/Terry Pierson

When rewatching this classic and recollecting my memories of this game, I reminded myself of John Facenda's narration from the Super Bowl XIV highlight describing the Pittsburgh Steelers overcoming adversity against a challenging Los Angeles Rams team, "Great teams aren't always great, they're just great when they have to be."

Championship teams always have that moment when they go for an offensive to take back momentum. In this game, the Trojans response in the third quarter displayed why they were valiant champions. 

After Fresno State opened the half with a punt, it gave the Trojans a short field to work with and with their dynamic options, it would take five plays to pay dirt. During the drive, on the Bulldog 36 yard line, Bush darted for 35 yards before being brought down at the one yard line, setting up Leinart for a short rushing touchdown pulling the Trojans within one point of the Bulldogs. 

At this point, the possession of momentum was beginning to swing back to the Trojans. For underdogs, it is these pressure packed moments that either make or break their upset bid. 

On this evening, the Bulldogs faltered. 

Fresno State was intercepted on back to back possessions and the dominance of the Trojan offense asserted themselves. After Pinegar's first interception, Reggie Bush ran 45 yards past the Bulldog defense to put the Trojans up 27-21.

After Pinegar's third interception of the quarter, the Reggie Bush would have his signature run in his career for the Trojans. On second and 18, Bush got the carry and run toward the boundary. 

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As Bush approached the sideline, he realized the Bulldog defender was aggressively pursuing Bush. Bush breaks himself, regains his momentum by tiptoeing the sideline, once he regains momentum, he cut back across the field accelerating past all Bulldog defenders en route to a 50 yard touchdown. 

It was a backbreaking score that the Trojans thought they achieved after outscoring the Bulldogs 28-7 in the third quarter and forcing three interceptions up 41-28. 


In the original Rocky film, in the classic bout between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, it was Apollo underestimating the fight that Rocky possessed and Rocky's getting up time and time again that got to Apollo. 

In this classic game, Fresno State's never say die spirit came alive. 

After a poor Tom Malone punt where Adam Jennings returned it to the Trojan 30, the Trojans committed a costly 15 yard personal foul infraction that gave the Bulldogs a golden opportunity at the Trojan 15 yard line. Six plays later, Pinegar regained his mojo located wide receiver Joe Fernandez for a six yard touchdown pass to close the gap 41-35. 

On the ensuing kickoff, Bush returned the kick to the Trojan 18 yard line when Bulldog defender Marcus McCauley forced the fumble and Bulldog defender Jason Huss recovered the ball. The costly Bush turnover set up Fresno State in the red zone, and a huge momentum shift was occurring. On the very next play Bulldog running back Wendell Mathis ran 18 yards for the game tying touchdown. 

With Kyle Zimmerman kicking the critical extra point, it was 9:41 to go in the fourth quarter, in The Coliseum, and Fresno State was up 42-41 with the two-time defending national champions on the ropes with a 32 game winning streak.

The Trojans at this point realized it was going to be an all out fight to the very end and its stalwarts of Leinart, Bush, and White were ready to perform. 

On the ensuing drive, Bush and White were the primary focus on an eight play 89 yard drive that saw the Trojans milk over three minutes off the clock to score the go ahead touchdown. 

Bush had an electric 43 yard pass reception to put the Trojans at the Fresno State 21 and White had two key runs including the touchdown run in the red zone to put the Trojans up 47-42. The Bulldogs went backwards on its next drive and fumbled the ball away with the Trojans recovering. 

The Trojans weren't able to move the ball and they had to kick a field goal to go up 50-42. 

With 2:45 remaining in the game, Fresno State would give the Trojans one last fight. as Pinegar passed the Bulldogs to the Trojan 25 yard line. 

After Pete Carroll took a well advised time out, Trojans took a time out to regroup and get focused as Fresno State nearing the red zone. 

Pinegar dropped back and Trojan defender Darnell Bing made a key adjustment and made the game saving interception with 1:20 to go, it was Pinegar's fourth interception of the game. 


Southern Cal survived and continued its march and goal of immortality, which would come up short in the Rose Bowl against Texas. 

Reggie Bush won his Heisman Trophy off of this game, while most of the nation didn't watch, you couldn't help but look at the 513 all purpose yards by Bush and the highlights and marvel at what he did against the No. 16 team in the country. 

Bush finished with 294 yards rushing, 161 punt/kick return yards, 68 yards receiving, and two rushing touchdowns. He broke the Pac-10 record that night in All Purpose Yards record, set Southern Cal's mark passing Anthony Davis record against Notre Dame in 1972 with 368 all purpose yards and just fell short of the national record by Emmett White of Utah State with 578 all purpose yards. 

For Fresno State, they weren't able to capture the momentum from this night to propel them to a championship season. 

They would lose the following week at Nevada, then to Louisiana Tech, and then dropping the Liberty Bowl to Tulsa. 

As with this Saturday's matchup you never know what will happen, but when I see these two teams play, it's hard to forget this incredible evening all them years ago.