Score by Quarters
The USC Trojans defeated the Michigan Wolverines 14-6 in the 1977 Rose Bowl Game. Michigan was helpless as the USC offense put on a clinic and held the nation’s leading rush offense to 217 yards.
“The Wolverines arrived in Pasadena leading the nation in total offense, rushing offense and scoring,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Joe Jares. “But they left exposed as just another tough, solid, upstanding Big Ten football team without a passing attack.”
Michigan’s opening drive foreshadowed the rest of their afternoon when quarterback Rick Leach fumbled on the USC 42. The Michigan defense knocked out starting USC tailback Ricky Bell on his fourth carry of the game. That gave an opportunity to Charles White, who rushed for 114 yards.
“You win as a team.” USC Head Coach John Robinson said. “We won with all 60 of our players from the University of Southern California.”
Michigan scored their only points of the day in the second quarter on a typical methodic maize and blue drive of dives and pitch outs with running back Rob Lytle diving into the end zone from the one yard line. USC blocked the extra point. It would be the only Michigan lead of the afternoon.
USC took a 7-6 lead into halftime when Robinson called for the Trojans to go for it on 4th and goal from the one yard line and quarterback Vince Evans took it in.
The Trojans were unable to muster another score until the fourth quarter, when a 58-yard drive was capped by a White 7-yard touchdown run.
With time running out, Michigan abandoned its bread and butter rush offense and allowed Leach to pass, moving the ball to the USC 17. On third and four, Michigan uncharacteristically called another pass which was overthrown. Forced to go for it on fourth down, Leach again overthrew his well-covered receiver, enabling USC to gain possession of the ball and run out the clock.
“They made the big plays both offensively and defensively, and we didn’t,” Michigan Head Coach Bo Schembechler said. “They shut off our short-yardage situations, and we’re not used to that. I make no apologies for the way we played.”
Wrote Jares of Michigan’s run oriented offense, “At times USC had gone with five linebackers and only three deep backs, daring Michigan to pass, but Leach had tried only 12, completed just four.”
USC quarterback Vince Evans, on the other hand, was 14 of 20 for 181 yards, often buying more time with his feet in the pocket, avoiding Michigan’s strong pass rush and being the ninth Trojan quarterback to win the Player of the Game award.
“I think they deserved to win the game,” Schembechler said. “I think they’re the best football team I’ve seen this year. I have no vote for the national championship or anything like that, but if I did I certainly would vote for USC.”
Partly cloudy; 58 degrees
Mich – Lytle, 1-yard run (B. Wood kick blocked)
USC – Evans, 1-yard run (Walker kick good)
USC – White, 7-yard run (Walker kick good)
Michigan: Bo Schembechler
USC: John Robinson
In the 1977 Rose Bowl Game, USC running back Ricky Bell, who would be the first pick in the 1977 NFL draft, left the game due to injury in the first quarter and was replaced by future Heisman trophy winner Charles White, who rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown to lead the Trojans past Michigan.
Mich: Lytle 18-67; R. Davis 10-39; Leach 13-34; Smith 1-5; Huckleby 3-10
USC: White 32-114; Bell 4-16; Tatupu 7-60; Evans 8-23; Farmer 3-7
Mich: Leach 4-12-76
USC: Evans 14-20-181
Mich: G. Johnson 2-24; J. Smith 2-52
USC: Diggs 8-98; Gay 1-7; M. Robinson 2-42; Simmrin 1-27; Tatupu 2-9
Mich: Anderson 5-225
USC: Walker 3-89