After early season losses to #9 Missouri and unranked Michigan State, Michigan won 4 straight games before their showdown with heavily favored top ranked Ohio State for the Big Ten championship. Michigan shocked the college football world by upsetting the #1 ranked Buckeyes, 24-12, to tie Ohio State for the conference title and receive the Rose Bowl bid. (Ohio State was ineligible anyway because of the Big Ten's "no repeat" rule.) Just days before the Rose Bowl, Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler suffered a mild heart attack and had to miss the game.
Aided by a pass interference penalty and a controversial last minute touchdown, USC earned the Rose Bowl berth with a 14-12 win over rival UCLA in the season's final game. The only blemish on their record was a 14-14 tie at South Bend against Notre Dame. The Trojans were making their record fourth consecutive Rose Bowl Game appearance, as the Pac-8 did not have a "no repeat" rule.
USC finished the year undefeated with one tie, earning a #3 ranking behind undefeated and untied #1 Texas and #2 Penn State. Bob Chandler went on to play for the NFL for 11 years with the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders. Michigan finished 8-3 and was ranked 9th in the AP poll and 11th in the UPI poll.