Score by Quarters
There was a ton of O.J. Simpson but even more of Ohio State as the team of the decade Buckeyes scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to outlast the Trojans in only the second time in the Rose Bowl Game’s 55-year history that the No. 1 team faced the No. 2-ranked team in the nation.
Heisman trophy winner O. J. Simpson rushed for 171 yards on 28 carries and an 80-yard touchdown run, but USC had five turnovers, including both an interception and a fumble by Simpson. Ohio State quarterback Rex Kern was named the Rose Bowl Game Player of the Game in the battle of the unbeatens and the first of four Rose Bowl Game matchups featuring Ohio State coach Woody Hayes and USC’s John McKay.
Observed the Los Angeles Times’ Jim Murray: “Ho Hum. Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but the Big Ten manhandled the West Coast team in the Rose Bowl. “
Simpson also caught eight passes for 85 yards in his final collegiate game.
While it signaled the end for Simpson, who would go onto star in the NFL, it was a coming-out party for Ohio State’s “Super Sophomores” playing their first varsity season, including Kern, John Brockington, Leo Hayden, Jim Otis, Jim Stillwagon and Jack Tatum. The Buckeyes would later be named one of the “Top-10 All-Time Greatest College Football Teams” by The Sporting News.
Although Ohio State dominated most of the game, the Buckeyes trailed, 10-0, after Simpson’s 80-yard touchdown run in the second quarter before the Buckeyes scored 27 unanswered points.
Led by Kern, whose precise passing picked apart the USC defense, Ohio State was able to take firm control of the game in the fourth quarter. Kern hit Leophus Hayden on a 4-yard pass to give the Buckeyes a 20-10 lead and put away the victory just four minutes later on a 16-yarder to Ray Gillian to give the Buckeyes another national title.
Bob Oates of the Los Angeles Times wrote: “At dusk Wednesday night, under a full moon, the flag-waving boys and girls of Ohio State and their marching band streamed down out of the Rose Bowl stands to take possession of the playing field.
“They were shouting ‘We’re No. 1,’ and wherever they are today they’re probably still shouting it. Their football team has earned them a long celebration. In a 27-16 Rose Bowl Game, it turned back the nation’s No. 2 team, with one of the smoothest and toughest sophomore assaults in all the winters of the world’s oldest New Year’s Day pageant.”
Among those who attended the game were 1968 President-elect Richard Nixon, Bob Hope and Oklahoma football coach Bud Wilkinson. Although First Lady Pat Nixon was a graduate of USC, President Nixon spent time on both sidelines, calling the Rose Bowl Game “the prize game of all bowl games.”
USC – Ayala, 11-yard field goal
USC – Simpson, 80-yard run (Ayala kick good)
OSU – Otis, 1-yard run (Roman kick good)
OSU – Roman, 16-yard field goal
OSU – Roman, 15-yard field goal
OSU – Hayden, 4-yard pass from Kern (Roman kick good)
OSU – Gillian, 16-yard pass from Kern (Roman kick good)
USC – Dickerson, 19-yard pass from Sogge (Sogge’s pass to Lawrence for a 2-point conversion failed)
Ohio State: Woody Hayes
USC: John McKay
The 1969 Rose Bowl Game brought together the undefeated and No. 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and the No. 2 ranked USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl Game for the national championship. Ohio State won the game, 27-16, and the Buckeye squad was later voted the college football team of the decade.
OSU: Otis 30-101; Hayden 15-90; Kern 12-35; Zelina 12-9; Gillian 6-14; Brockington 2-6; Huff 1-5
USC: Simpson 28-171; Scott 5-16; Lawrence 1-9
OSU: Kern 9-15-101
USC: Sogge 19-30-189
OSU: Gillian 4-69; Zelina 1-5; White 1-17; Jankowski 1-2; Hayden 2-4
USC: Simpson 8-85; Dickerson 3-50; Klein 4-31; Lawrence 3-16; Chandler 1-7
OSU: Young 6-221
USC: Sensibaugh 7-319