Score by Quarters
“For all the world, it looked like Bo Schembechler was suffering his third heart attack right there on the sidelines of the Rose Bowl, in front of 103,450 and a national television audience,” wrote Dave Cunningham of the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Schembechler’s heart wasn’t attacking. It was merely breaking as he watched USC junior tailback Ricky Ervins run for a 14-yard touchdown to put USC up 17-10 over Michigan with 1:10 left in the 1990 Rose Bowl Game and leaving Schembechler without another national championship heading into retirement.
The boys in maize and blue could not repeat their winning ways in Pasadena, where they had won the previous year. Miscues cost them the game.
Early in the second quarter, Dan Owens blocked a Michigan punt, allowing Junior Seau to advance USC to the Michigan 11. Six plays later, quarterback Todd Marinovich snuck into the end zone. USC took a 10-3 lead into halftime, controlling significant chunks of time and yardage, holding the ball for 19:22 to Michigan’s 10:38.
“We didn’t want to get greedy,” explained Marinovich. “We were just going to take whatever the defense gave us. Our receivers and running backs made some big plays for us.”
Midway through the third quarter, Michigan tied the game, 10-10, on an Allen Jefferson touchdown run.
Schembechler shocked USC early in the fourth quarter by calling a fake punt. Michigan punter Chris Stapleton scrambled for 24 yards and a first down. However, Michigan linebacker Bobby Abrams was flagged for holding, wiping out the play and sending Schembechler into a fury, throwing his clipboard and papers and nearly being pulled down by his own headset wire, which led to an additional 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“One thing I won’t miss in retirement is incompetent officials,” said Schembechler. “That call was the most unbelievable call I’ve ever seen, and I get it in my last game.”
It wasn’t Abrams’ first mental breakdown of the day. He made a mistake in punt-blocking coverage, which allowed Owens to block a second-quarter punt and give USC prime field position and the lead early in the game.
However, Abrams had his moments, tying for second-best on the team with nine tackles.
“That was just an individual breakdown,” said Schembechler. “They weren’t even coming (to block the punt). We just had somebody fall asleep. I don’t think we played well the entire game. Our effort was good, but USC really played well.”
Ervins, who played at Pasadena’s Muir High School a couple miles away from the Rose Bowl and also served as a Rose Bowl parking attendant before college, finished with 126 yards on 30 carries and was selected the game’s Most Valuable Player. Ervins joined elite company, becoming the fifth USC running back to win the Rose Bowl’s MVP trophy.
“I never won an MVP award in any of my high school games,” said Ervins. “It feels good to win, especially for the seniors in their last game.”
Michigan running back Leroy Hoard rushed for 108 yards on 17 carries, becoming the only back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Trojans all season. Hoard also ran for more than 100 yards against USC in the 1989 Rose Bowl Game.
Hazy; 65 degrees
USC – Marinovich, 1-yard run (Rodriguez kick good)
Mich – Carlson, 19-yard field goal
USC – Rodriguez, 34-yard field goal
Mich – Jefferson, 2-yard run (Carlson kick)
USC – Ervins, 14-yard run (Rodriguez kick good)
USC: Larry Smith
Michigan: Glenn Edward “Bo” Schembechler
USC defeated Michigan, 17-10, in Bo Schembechler’s final game as head coach of the Wolverines.
Mich: Hoard 17-108; Bunch 6-9; Jefferson 1-2
USC: Ervins 30-126; Marinovich 9-20; Holt 8-35
Mich: Taylor 10-19-115
USC: Marinovich 22-31-178
Mich: Bunch 1-11; Hoard 3-15; McMurtry 4-56; Calloway 2-33
USC: Jackson 5-56; Ervins 5-44; Holt 3-25; Scott 3-19; Wellman 1-6; Griffin 3-22; Wallace 1-8
Mich: Stapleton 6-251
USC: Dale 3-128; Preston 1-29