Score by Quarters
In a thrilling finish to the 1975 Rose Bowl Game, USC defeated Ohio State, 18-17, on a two-point conversion with 2:03 left in the game.
“Coach McKay, a river boat gambler who lost all of his chips in a two-point try in a 14-13 loss to Purdue in 1967 and a gambler who turned down a successful field goal by little Chris Limahelu near the end of the first half when an Ohio State offside prompted McKay to seek a touchdown instead with the Buckeyes then leading 7-3; gambled again yesterday and won big at the finish,” read the Pasadena Star-News.
Trojan quarterback Pat Haden passed to John K. McKay, the coach’s son, who beat Ohio State safety Steve Luke for a 38-yard touchdown, cutting Ohio State’s lead to 17-16. With the momentum on the Trojans’ side, Coach McKay ordered a two-point conversion attempt from the left hash mark. Sprinting to his right, Haden found flanker Shelton Diggs open in the end zone, while the Ohio State sidelines watched their Rose Bowl Game hopes wilt.
“I knew I had him (Luke) beat,” McKay said of the 38-yard touchdown pass. “Earlier, we had run the same pattern but the ball was underthrown. I used the best move I had, then just tried to stay in bounds.”
“When we go for two points on a conversion, we use a sprint-out so if everyone’s covered, Pat (Haden) has a chance to run with the ball,” added McKay. “Diggs made a great catch.”
McKay stated the Trojans always go for two in that situation, especially when playing in the Rose Bowl Game.
“We didn’t come here to play for a tie,” McKay told reporters after the game.
For the first three quarters, the Ohio State defense held USC to only three points on a first-quarter field goal. Both teams committed costly turnovers, with Ohio State fumbling four times, losing two, and throwing two interceptions. USC fumbled twice and had one interception.
The Trojan defense stopped Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin from being a major factor in the game, holding him to less than 100 yards, a feat that hadn’t occurred in Griffin’s previous 23 games.
“We didn’t hold Archie, we just contained him,” USC Rover Charles Phillips said. “He’s too good a back to stop. We just played good football.”
Ohio State Head Coach Woody Hayes credited the Trojan defense for adjusting to his team’s rushing attack and its star running back.
“USC pinched their tackles toward the inside,” Hayes said “And their ends also made us try to run inside. All year long, their tackles have been playing wide, but not today, and we didn’t expect that.”
With little time left in the game, Ohio State tried to mount a drive and attempted a 62-yard field goal. The kick was straight but didn’t have the distance, coming up 5 yards short.
USC – Limahelu, 30-yard filed goal
OSU – Henson, 2-yard run (Klaban kick good)
USC – Obradovich, 3-yard pass from Haden (Limahelu kick good)
OSU – Greene, 3-yard run (Klaban kick good)
OSU – Klaban, 32-yard field goal
USC – McKay, 38-yard pass from Haden (Haden pass to Diggs for the 2-point conversion)
USC: John McKay
Ohio State: Woody Hayes
The 1975 Rose Bowl Game was the third consecutive meeting between USC and Ohio State. USC coach John McKay’s son J.K. caught the winning touchdown.
USC: Davis 16-74-1, McNeil 8-46-0, Moore 6-42-0, Haden 11-2-0, Diggs 1-3-0
Ohio State: Griffin 22-149-1, Johnson 21-94-3, Greene 7-45-1, Elia 8-27-1, Bachnagel 1-5-0
USC: Haden 21-39-0-229-0, Davis 1-1-0-10-1
Ohio State: Greene 6-8-1-129-0
USC: McKay 6-83-1, McNeil 4-39-0, Obradovich 2-28-0, Swann 5-47-0, Moore 3-19-0, Davis 1-8-0, Diggs 1-15-0
Ohio State: Pagac 4-89-0, Hazel 1-15-0, Baschnagel 1-25-0