1970: 50 YEARS AGO
The 1970 Rose Bowl Game was a defensive struggle between the USC Trojans and the
Michigan Wolverines. The Trojans proved to be the tougher team on this New Year’s Day, as
they beat Michigan 10–3, scoring the only touchdown of the game late in the third quarter.
At halftime, the score was 3–3. Both teams attempted to run the other into the ground,
but their rushing attacks all but failed.
“For 55 minutes, it seemed a waste of time to blow up the football,” said legendary Los
Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray. “They could have played the game with a stale loaf of
bread. It was as atavistic as a fight in a tar pit between two woolly mammoths. Each team
appeared to think it could run on the other, although anybody who thinks he could run on
the Trojan line that calls itself The Wild Bunch must have been running its films backwards.”
The USC defense held the high-powered maize and blue to only three points. Michigan
had averaged close to 35 points a game, had only been held scoreless in only nine quarters
of its 10-game season, and had scored 147 points in its four previous Rose Bowl Games.
“We felt USC moved the ball better than Ohio State throughout the game,” Michigan assistant
coach Jim Young said. “And they showed us a stronger defense than we had met before.”
With Michigan missing its head coach, Bo Schembechler, who had suffered a mild heart
attack earlier in the week, Michigan’s offense, sticking mostly to the run, was unable to
match USC’s one big play in the third quarter. That play came with less than three minutes
to play in the period, when USC quarterback Jimmy Jones threw to Bob Chandler, who
outraced the Michigan secondary for a 33-yard touchdown.
“It was the biggest catch of my career,” Chandler, the Player of the Game, said. “I just ran
a straight pattern, felt an arm on my waist. Somehow the tackler slipped off.”
USC finished the year undefeated with one tie, but missed being crowned national
champions. That honor went to Texas, which was 11–0.
“We are the most criticized 10-game-winning team in football history without question,”
said USC head coach John McKay. “Texas is undefeated. We never made a claim to it the
national championship; I made up a plaque and gave it to our team last week.”
Schembechler’s absence sparked debate about Michigan’s play. Perhaps Schembechler
would have made different adjustments than his staff or would have provided a motivating
“Bo Schembechler’s absence from the game was a tremendous blow to all of us,” Young
said. “The team did a terrific job under the circumstances. We lost Bo as the leader and who
knows how much that meant to us….
“USC played basically the same football that they played all year. But good football teams
don’t have to change their style of play. Our inability to stop USC from moving the ball and
our inability to score on two occasions when we had the opportunity, seemed to be the
difference in the game.”
USC 10, MICHIGAN 3
USC 3 0 7 0 10
MICHIGAN 0 3 0 0 3
Clear, 70 degrees
USC FG Ayala 25
Mich FG Killian 20
USC Chandler 33 pass from Jones (Ayala kick)
USC: John McKay
Michigan: Bo Schembechler
In 1970, the Trojans made their fourth consecutive Rose
Bowl Game appearance. Only Ohio State (1973–76) and USC
again (2006–09, though its participation in 2006 later was
vacated) have matched that feat.
Team Stats USC Michigan
First Downs 16 20
Net Yards Rushing 195 162
Net Yards Passing 128 127
Total Yards 323 289
PC–PA–Int. 10–17–0 14–32–1
Punts–Avg. 5–40.6 6–36.2
Fumbles–Lost 2–0 1–0
Penalties–Yards 6–38 2–20
USC: Davis 15–76; Berry 23–65; Evans 6–28; Jones 7–17;
Mich: Morehead 18–60; Taylor 18–56; Scheffler 9–29;
Craw 6–15; Gabler 2–2.
USC: Jones 10–17–128.
Mich: Morehead 14–32–127.
USC: Chandler 3–78; DeKraai 3–27; Evans 3–15; Davis 1–8.
Mich: Mandich 8–79; Oldham 2–19; Harris 1–12; Hankwitz
1–7; B. Taylor 1–6; Craw 1–4.
USC: Ayala 5–203.
Mich: Weaver 6–217