Score by Quarters
In the 1996 Rose Bowl Game, both teams had offensive firepower. They combined for 895 yards of total offense (Northwestern 475-USC 420) and a Rose-Bowl record 727 yards passing. However, the difference in a 41-32 win for USC was a late-game turnover and a guy named “Keyshawn.”
Keyshawn Johnson, playing in his last collegiate game before he would go on to have a storied NFL career, caught 12 balls for a Rose-Bowl record 216 yards (smashing the old record by 40 yards) and one touchdown, earning him Player of the Game honors, one year after he earned the same distinction in the Cotton Bowl.
“He is one of the greatest football players that I’ve ever been around,” said USC Head Coach John Robinson, who went to 4-0 in the Rose Bowl Game with the win. “I know (USC quarterback) Brad (Otton) is going to miss him next year, but not as much as I am. His story and what he means to college football and everything about him is just fabulous.”
It all started from the opening drive – USC went 83 yards on 12 plays and capped it with a 1-yard touchdown from LaVale Woods.
Northwestern answered with a touchdown drive of its own. After a 25-yard return from Darnell Autry, his offense finished what he started. They went 68 yards on 10 plays for the score, an Autry 3-yard run to make it 7-7.
Then, USC scored 17 unanswered points, punctuated by a 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown from true freshman cornerback Daylon McCutcheon. At halftime, it was 24-10, Trojans.
However, at the start of the second half, Northwestern scored on its first drive. After another great return, this time a 32-yarder from cornerback Hudhaifa Ismaeli, Northwestern went 46 yards on 11 plays and finished it with a 28-yard field goal from Brian Gowins. The Wildcats then recovered their onside kick and went 52 yards on six plays for the score. Autry scored his second touchdown, this time from 9 yards out. After a failed two-point conversion, Northwestern pulled to 24-19.
Johnson, however, fought back. At third down and 11 from the USC 44-yard line on the following drive, Johnson caught a pass from Otton and took it 56 yards for the score, putting the Trojans up, 31-19.
Northwestern wouldn’t fall, though, scoring twice to take the lead at 32-31. USC re-took the lead with another field goal, and as Northwestern drove, Jesse Davis intercepted a Steve Schnur pass and returned it 41 yards. His Trojans capitalized, scoring all they’d need on the drive to take the lead, 41-32.
Schnur and Autry did all they could in the loss – Schnur completed 23 of 39 for 336 yards, and Autry rushed for 110 yards and three touchdowns. The Wildcat defense gave up just 29 rushing yards in the loss as well.
USC – Woods, 1-yard run (Abrams kick good)
NU – Autry, 3-yard run (Gowins kick good)
USC – Barnum, 21-yard pass from Otton (Abrams kick good)
USC – Abrams, 30-yard field goal
USC – McCutcheon, 53-yard fumble return (Abrams kick good)
NU – Gowins, 29-yard field goal
NU – Gowins, 28-yard field goal
NU – Autry, 9-yard run ( Schnur’s pass for the 2-point conversion failed)
USC – Johnson, 56-yard pass from Otton (Abrams kick good)
NU – Schnur, 1-yard run (Gowins kick good)
NU – Autry, 2-yard run (Schnur’s pass to Drexler for the 2-point conversion failed)
USC – Abrams, 46-yard field goal
USC – Washington, 2-yard run (Abrams kick good)
Northwestern: Gary Barnett
USC: John Robinson
Jan. 1, 1996, marked the 50th anniversary of the Pac-10, Big Ten and Tournament of Roses Rose Bowl Game.
NU: D. Autry 32-110; Bates 1-4; Schnur 3-13; Hartl 1-4; A. Autry 2-8
USC: Barnum 1-2; Washington 16-51
NU: Schnur 23-39-336
USC: Otton 29-44-391
NU: Bates 7-145; Musso 5-91; D. Autry 6-38; Hartl 1-10; Brown 1-9; McGrew 1-11; Drexler 1-16; Beazley 1-16
USC: Johnson 12-216; C. Miller 3-50; Barnum 4-42; Washington 2-18; Parker 1-5; Cashman 3-19; McWilliams 2-20; L. Woods 2-21
NU: Burton 2-77
USC: Stonehouse 2-89