Score by Quarters
In 1971 the media gave Stanford a hard time, saying they had a history of imploding during the big game. Stanford proved them wrong as Jim Plunkett and the Indians defeated the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes. In 1972, the Indians were up for the challenge again, this time taking on the undefeated Michigan Wolverines. In two years Stanford took out two undefeated Big Ten teams in the Rose Bowl Game – the granddaddy of them all. Where was the expected implosion?
With two minutes left in the game, Michigan had a two-point lead. Stanford quarterback Don Bunce had other plans as he led the Indians 64 yards on an eight-play drive. Only 12 seconds remained on the clock as kicker Rod Garcia’s 31-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, 13-12.
Michigan and Stanford wanted to keep the game exciting, scoring two touchdowns, a safety, a 31-yard fake punt by Stanford, and the last-second field goal in a game that was 3-3 going into the fourth quarter.
“In victory (John) Ralston proved that he can still win the big ones,” wrote Los Angeles Times’ Bob Oates on the Stanford head coach. “He proved he can beat the Big Ten with either Bunce or Jim Plunkett. And he proved that a smart passing team is too much for a ball-control team when the latter runs out of gas on the 1-yard line.”
Stanford’s defense took it upon itself to keep its team in the game, halting two Michigan drives and only giving up one touchdown in the second half.
On the opening drive of the second half, the Wolverines marched down the field to the 1-yard line. The 60-yard drive provided Michigan with no points as Stanford was expecting Schembechler’s routine fullback dive on third down and again halted the Michigan offense’s outside pitch on fourth down.
The touchdown by Michigan early in the fourth quarter proved to motivate the Indians’ offense, who began to drive down the length of the field. The drive stalled on a dropped pass, but Ralston called for a fake punt on fourth down, which netted the Indians 31 yards. Tailback Jackie Brown then ran for 24-yard touchdown, tying the game 10-10.
Michigan added a safety as Stanford’s Jim Ferguson tried to return a missed Michigan field goal but was funneled into the end zone by Michigan defenders. The Wolverines then tried to pound the ball and run the clock out for the rest of the game but were unable to gain a first down with their run controlled stubbornness.
“It’s hard to argue with ball-control football when the ball is controlled into the end zone, but that was the one thing Michigan couldn’t do, except once,” wrote Oates.
With 1:48 left in the game Bunce began to drive the Indians down the field, completing a perfect 5-for-5 passing attempts and setting up Garcia for the winning field goal.
“You could see he was going to make,” Bunce said about Garcia who had missed the game-winning field goal earlier in the season against San Jose State. “You could see it in his eyes. After San Jose, you knew it would be poetic justice.”
Sunny; 70 degrees
Mich – Coin, 30-yard field goal
Stan – Garcia, 42-yard field goal
Mich – Seyferth, 1-yard run (Coin kick good)
Stan – Brown, 24-yard run (Garcia kick good)
Mich – Shuttlesworth tackles Ferguson in the end zone for a safety
Stan – Garcia, 31-yard field goal
Stanford: John Ralston
Michigan: Bo Schembechler
In the 1972 Rose Bowl Game, quarterback Don Bunce completed 24 of 44 passes for 290 yards as Stanford stunned previously unbeaten and heavily-favored Michigan, 13-12, on a field goal by Rod Garcia with just 12 seconds left to play.
Stan: Brown 6-60; Winesberry 4-15; Bunce 8-2; Sanderson 5-16
Mich: W. Taylor 32-82; Shuttlesworth 13-62; Slade 13-41; Doughty 11-56; Rather 2-17; Seyferth 3-6
Stan: Bunce 24-44-290
Mich: Slade 3-10-26
Stan: Brown 5-30; Scott 5-55; Winesberry 8-112; Moore 3-52; Sanderson 3-45
Mich: Seymour 1-13; Doughty 2-13
Stan: Murray 4-166
Mich: Dotzauer 7-272