10 Saturdays: 1980 Rose Bowl

We still have 10 Saturdays left until the opening kickoff, but that’s very doable at this point.


Another classic game I vividly remember was the 1980 Rose Bowl game.



The University of Southern California Trojans and the Ohio State Buckeyes were pretty regular opponents in the Rose Bowl for a while. They met 3 times in a row in 1973, 1974 and 1975 and then took a few years off. Ohio State or Michigan represented the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl 13 years in a row from 1969 until 1981. But, this was the first time in many, many years that Ohio State would come in without Woody Hayes as their head coach.

Earl Bruce was the new boss of the Buckeyes. The last time the 2 powerhouses had met in the Rose Bowl, the Trojans had long time coach John McKay at the helm. McKay moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and John Robinson was the new USC football coach.

So, now instead of Hayes vs McKay it was Bruce vs Robinson.

USC leads the all time series between the 2 powerhouses, 13-9-1.

Southern Cal is hard to beat in the Rose Bowl in general with a 24-9 all time record in the Granddaddy Bowl game of them all.



USC came into this game with Heisman Trophy winner, Charles White at Running Back. Ohio State countered with sophomore QB Art Schlichter who finished 4th in the Heisman Race.


Schlichter was a hot shot highly recruited QB out of Miami, Ohio that would gain plenty of fame in later years for his gambling habits and legal problems.

It was Schlichter that had thrown the interception in the Gator Bowl in his true freshman season which enraged Woody Hayes so thoroughly that he punched the opposing player in disgust. That punch, which the opposing player never even felt, was the reason that Coach Woody Hayes was no longer coaching the Buckeyes in this game. Hayes hit lots of players over the years, but this one was caught on national television, so there was no getting around it. Part of Woody’s frustration was that Schlichter threw 4 TD passes his freshman season and 21 interceptions. I have posted before on here and it’s been said many times that Woody said ‘three things can happen when you pass, and two of them are bad’. The bowl game interception was enough to drive him over the edge.


The Buckeyes that season had a young assistant coach named Pete Carroll that would be slightly familiar to Trojan fans in the years ahead.

Also, involved in this game was a young Anthony Munoz who had missed the entire season due to injury and would be playing for the first time in this game. He is considered by most to be the most dominating Offensive Tackle to ever play the game.


Both teams were undefeated coming in. USC was #1 earlier in the season, until they blew a 21-0 lead over Stanford and let the Trees come back and tie them 21-21. That game basically moved the Buckeyes to #1, Alabama to #2 and USC to #3.

The January 1st, 1980 Rose Bowl matched the #1 ranked 11-0 Ohio State Buckeyes against the #3 ranked 10-0-1 Southern California Trojans. If not for the tie with 5-5-1 Stanford, the game would have matched #1 vs #2.


This game wouldn’t be exciting for a lot of fans these days. It was a defensive struggle.


The Trojans went up 10-0 and then the Buckeyes came back, tying the game 10 all at the half. The Buckeyes wound up scoring 16 straight points taking a 16-10 lead deep into the 4th quarter.

There were plenty of turnovers and mistakes, but mostly it was a clean hard fought game from start to finish making it a classic.


The Trojans got the ball for the last time down 16-10 with slightly less than 3 minutes left in the game and about 83 yards from a score.

Heisman Trophy winner Charles White took over the game at that point. Going 32 yards on the next carry and then 28 yards. Suddenly, USC was down to the Ohio State 22 yard line with plenty of time left.

A few running plays later and Charles White is diving into the end zone to tie the game up. The extra point won it for the Trojans, 17-16.


Charles White was the games MVP and rushed for a Rose Bowl record 247 yards. 71 of those yards came on the final drive.

White won nearly every award out there in 1979 and was then a 1st round draft choice by the Cleveland Browns.


The star from the other side was the All American boy type. Art Schlichter threw for over 7,500 yards and ran for 1,300 for the Buckeyes as a 4 year starter. He was drafted in the 1st round with the #4 pick by the Baltimore Colts.

Schlichter could be considered one of the all time biggest disappointments in football.


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  1. Pingback: Happy Birthday Woody Hayes | College Football Crazy

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