UCLA Football Under Terry Donahue – 1996-2015

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Jan 30, 2014; New York, NY USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew on radio row at the Super Bowl XLVIII media center at the Sheraton Times Square New York. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Donahue’s Bruins enter the 2005 season ranked #12 and overshadowed by national title favorites #1 USC. Juniors Olson and Maurice Drew lead a potent offensive attack. The Bruins roll against San Diego State and Rice before shutting down Adrian Peterson and Oklahoma. In conference play, the Bruins win close games against Washington and Cal, a thrilling comeback at Washington State, a blowout of Oregon State, and another stunning comeback win in overtime against Stanford. The Bruins almost get caught looking ahead in Tucson but escape with a 17-14 win over Arizona and then post a big win over Arizona State.

This sets up a much anticipated showdown between #1 USC and #2 UCLA. Olson and Drew are both Heisman contenders, as are their counterparts on the other sideline, Matt Leinart and Bush. Comparisons are drawn with the 1967 ‘Game of the Century’ that pitted Gary Beban against OJ Simpson. The game lives up to the billing, with both teams trading scores in the first quarter before the defenses take over in the second. At half, it’s tied up at 13. In the second half, USC’s superior athleticism begins to show, and UCLA is forced to match field goals with the Trojan’s touchdowns.

Down ten with three minutes remaining, Olson hits Drew on a wheel route that results in a 45-yard touchdown. Playing it ever safe, Donahue elects not to kick the onside, and the tired Bruin defense struggles to keep the Trojans from bleeding the clock and marching down towards a game-sealing score. However, with 40 seconds left, DL Justin Hickman strips LenDale White of the football, and blitzing safety Jarrad Page scoops up the loose ball and runs it back 78 yards for the late go-ahead touchdown. Re-energized, the UCLA defense forces a turnover on downs on USC’s ensuing possession, and the Bruins punch their ticket to the national title game.

Facing Heisman Winner Vince Young (beneficiary of Olson/Drew and Leinart/Bush all cancelling out each other’s votes) and the Texas Longhorns, UCLA benefits from playing the championship game on its home field in Pasadena, rolling the Longhorns 48-17. Donahue wins his second national championship, and the UCLA athletic department commissions statues of Red Sanders and Terry Donahue to stand outside the planned football facility.

Next: 2006-2011