1996 Rose
Bowl Page


Played January 1, 1996.

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CAAttendance: 100,102 (capacity).

Northwestern's 1995 regular season record (like you don't know): 10-1 overall, 8-0 conference.  Big Ten Champion.

Coach: Gary Barnett.  Tri-Captains: Steve Schnur, Sam Valenzisi, Rob Johnson.

Opponent: Southern California.

NU/U.S.C. series record (prior to bowl): U.S.C. led series 4-0.

Team 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Final
Northwestern 7 3 16 6 32
Southern Cal 7 17 7 10 41

Scoring: USC: Woods 1yd run (Abrams kick); NU: D.Autry 3 yd run (Gowins kick); USC: Barnum 21 yd pass from Otton (Abrams kick); USC: Abrams 30 yd FG; USC: McCutcheon 53 yd fumble return (Abrams kick); NU: Gowins 29 yd FG; NU: Gowins 28 yd FG; NU: D.Autry 9 yd run (pass failed); USC: K.Johnson 56 yd pass from Otton (Abrams kick); NU: Schnur 1 yd run (Gowins kick); NU: D.Autry 2 yd run (run failed); USC: Abrams 46 yd FG; USC: Washington 2 yd run (Abrams kick).

USC head coach John Robinson and Wildcat coach Gary Barnett
chat before kickoff.  AP Photo.

Darnell Autry slashes past a defender in the Rose Bowl.  AP Photo.

Despite its #3 national ranking, Northwestern found itself an underdog in the Rose Bowl to Keyshawn Johnson and USC.  A sellout crowd of 100,102 packed the Rose Bowl for one of the most anticipated games in college football history.  Estimates on the number of Northwestern fans in the stands ranged from 50,000 to 65,000; either way, the game brought together the largest number of Wildcat fans that has ever been assembled.  When they entered the hallowed stadium and saw “NORTHWESTERN” painted in purple and white on the Rose Bowl grass, many fans became very emotional.  Among those NU fans were 30 members of the 1948 Wildcat team-- who had won the ’49 Rose Bowl-- and former coach Bob Voigts.

. . . . The Trojans kicked off the scoring when quarterback Brad Otton passed for a pair of first downs and drove into NU territory.  Otton then completed a 31-yard pass to Keyshawn Johnson and put USC in the Wildcats’ red zone.  Ironically, USC was trying to tire out NU by using a no-huddle with Otton firing from shotgun, strategies Northwestern would use masterfully in a few years under its next coach.  Eventually LaVale Woods drove into the end zone, and USC led 7-0.  The ‘Cats responded later in the first quarter, when Schnur began connecting with Bates.  The duo completed three passes, setting up a short Autry run for the touchdown.  In the second quarter Southern California went on a tear, scoring on a 21-yard pass play and kicking a 30-yard field goal.  On third down Brian Musso raced to midfield and was tripped up.  As Musso’s knee touched down, the ball came loose.  The refs did not blow a whistle, and USC picked up the ball and streaked in for a touchdown and a 17-point lead.  One play, one questionable call, resulted in a 14-point swing against NU.  The ‘Cats managed to recover some of the ground lost in the last seconds of the half.  Tim Scharf and Ismaeli forced and recovered a USC fumble, setting up a Brian Gowins field goal to make the score 24-10.

. . . . Early in the third quarter the ‘Cats drove and set up Gowins’ second field goal.  On the ensuing kickoff Gowins executed a completely unexpected onsides kick, recovered by Josh Barnes at the NU 48.  The possession ended in a Darnell Autry touchdown, and NU was on the rebound, down only 24-19.  But Otton and Johnson paired again for an explosion play, a 56-yard touchdown pass that put USC up by 12.  The Wildcats were unfazed.  Schnur, on first down, rifled a pass to Bates 46 yards.  After a few rushing plays, Schnur lurched into the end zone for a touchdown.  The Wildcat defense, now completely fired up, stoned Otton, and USC punted.  Early in the fourth quarter, down 31-26, Autry powered his way to another touchdown, and Northwestern took a 32-31 lead.  The Wildcat fans in the stands and across the country went crazy. 

Northwestern’s fourth quarter lead in the Rose Bowl lasted three minutes and 52 seconds.  A long Trojan drive resulted in a field goal, and USC scored again with three minutes left in the game to take a 41-32 lead.  With 41 seconds left, NU’s last gasp went silent when a 49-yard field goal try slammed into the left upright.  Johnson and USC Coach John Robinson were graceless in victory, but they couldn’t take away from what Northwestern had accomplished in going so far, and coming so close.

From Northwestern Wildcat Football (Arcadia Publishing)