With Big 10 champion Michigan State and Notre Dame playing for a tie in 1966, and the national championship, the power migrated to the West in 1967.
The USC Trojans, UCLA Bruins and the Oregon State Beavers were about as good as anyone that season, and when the smoke cleared, they were even better.
Making the history books in 1967, the Oregon State Beavers coached by Dee Andros became the first and only team in the history of college football to take on three top 2 rated teams and go through that gauntlet and remain unbeaten. They beat the number one ranked USC Trojans and then second ranked Purdue before tying number 2, UCLA. They will forever be known as the Giant Killers: Giant Killers
Other than Fullback Bill Enyart AKA the Earthquake, the Beavers weren’t overly talented. But, they were a tough team, obviously, and well coached.
Going into their October 21st game against second ranked Purdue, the Beavers were 3-2 and not thought of as much of a threat. But, they upset the Boilermakers in Lafayette, Indiana.
Two weeks later, the Giant Killers invaded Los Angeles and tied the top ranked UCLA Bruins, 16-16. The following week, they hosted top ranked USC and shocked the nation by beating them, 3-0.
Legend has it that they didn’t mow the grass and watered the field to slow down the speedy Trojans. Whatever they did, it worked and USC could not score against them. It was a remarkable feat because of the talent on the Trojan’s side of the field.
Schools didn’t play patsy schedules back then as they do now. UCLA started the season ranked 8th and they took on 9th ranked Tennessee at home coming away with a hard fought, 20-16 win.
The Bruins then ran the table until they came up against the mighty Giant Killers of Oregon State. Even after the 16-16 tie on their own home field, the Bruins remained near the top position in the Polls.
The USC Trojans of 1967 were just loaded across the board. Their Offense was led by future Heisman Trophy winner OJ Simpson at Tailback and Steve Sogge at Quarterback. Toby Page and future NFL head coach Mike Holmgren were backups at Quarterback.
Mike Hull was Simpson’s lead blocker at Fullback and he played 7 years in the NFL.
Pro Football Hall of Fame member Ron Yary was at Left Tackle and some have considered him the best of all time. Mike Taylor and Sid Smith also played in the Offensive Line and also in the NFL for a number of years.
At Wide Receiver, the Trojans had speedster Earl McCullough and Jim Lawrence with a young Bob
Chandler helping out as well. Tight End Bob Klein was way ahead of his time at 6-5, 235 and he was a future 1st round Draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams. McCullough was considered the 2nd fastest man in the NFL behind Olympic 100 meters champion Bullet Bob Hayes.
The Defense had stars of it’s own with Defensive End Tim Rossovich. Wild and Crazy
Defensive Linemen Willard Scott, Jimmy Gunn and 6-8, 260 Bill Hayhoe who was a kick blocking son of a gun. Who else had 6-8, 260 players back in the 1960’s? Probably only USC and Grambling and it’s trees of terror.
Besides the monstrous Bill Hayhoe, they had hulking Defensive Tackle Dennis Crane who was 6-7, 260 and a future 4th round draft pick of the New York Giants. This team was huge and they must have been terrifying to play for anybody during the 1967 season. They were way ahead of their time in size and speed compared to other teams.
Linebacker Adrien Young who was an Irishman from Dublin, originally and he was a 3rd round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. He must have been a hoot calling plays and formations in the defensive huddle.
In the Secondary, they had Mike Battle and Sandy Durko who both played a few years in the NFL. They weren’t legends, but they had cool names, and they could play.
They had 4 consensus All Americans Consensus AA team
Plus, they had 5 guys taken in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft: 1968 1st round NFL Draft
Klein was a 1st rounder in the 1969 NFL Draft. Simpson and Ron Yary are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Trojans started the season off ranked 7th, but I don’t believe the Eastern media knew anything about how good that OJ Simpson was going to be.
The Washington State Cougars were awful that season and USC destroyed them 49-0. 5th ranked Texas came to town for their second game. It was a good early season battle featuring number 5 against the new number 4 team with the Trojans prevailing 17-13.
USC took the road to take on one of the defending national champions in the Michigan State
Spartans. But, this was clearly not the same talented team as the season before with Bubba Smith and George Webster having moved on to the NFL. The Trojans won the game, 21-17, and it was a lot closer than it should have been because Michigan State finished the season with a disappointing 3-7 record. USC moved into the number 1 spot in the polls even if the Spartans were not as good as expected.
Stanford proved to be little problem for USC with the Trojans blasting the Cardinal, 30-0. The other defending national champion was next with USC traveling to South Bend, Indiana and beating the 5th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish next, 24-7. Not many teams take on defending national champions twice in the same year and as I wrote earlier, these teams played tough schedules in the olden days.
Washington, Oregon and California were next and USC beat all of them easily enough which left Oregon State remaining on the schedule before their rivalry game against cross town rival, UCLA.
Maybe USC was looking ahead to their big rivalry game, or maybe the muddy field and tall grass really did slow down the Trojan speed, but the Giant Killers rose to the occasion and shocked the world by winning that game, 3-0.
UCLA just moved up to the top spot in the poll, basically switching positions with USC. The game was still as meaningful as before with the winner grabbing the national title and sole bragging rights.
During the 1966 season, the media had a field day hyping up the Game of the Century between Notre Dame and Michigan State. That game fell far short with a lot of people nationally being upset with Ara Parseghian for basically Tying One for the Gipper when he ran out the clock in the 4th quarter.
Another year, another Game of the Century. But, this time the game more than lived up to the newspaper clippings with the USC Trojans barely getting by the UCLA Bruins, 21-20. 1967
That game ended with Defensive Linemen like Tim Rossovich and Jimmy Gunn to end the final threat and win the championship for the Trojans.
All that was left for the men of Troy was a Rose Bowl victory over the surprising Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana finished in a 3 way tie for first place in the Big 10. Indiana 1967 season
It was a tighter game than expected, but USC finally dispensed with the Hoosiers winning 14-3.
USC finished the season ranked #1 and the national champions. They were followed by Tennessee, Oklahoma and Indiana.
Notre Dame was 5th, with surprising Wyoming #6. The Giant Killers of Oregon State were 7th and Alabama, Purdue and Penn State finished out the top 10.
It was the 2nd of USC head coach John McKay’s 4 national titles before he left for the NFL.
The USC Trojans were the best in the country in 1967 and they would remain there until they met Ohio State’s Super Sophomores after the 1968 season.