1969 Rose Bowl

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1969 Rose Bowl
55th Rose Bowl Game
1234 Total
Ohio State 010314 27
USC 01006 16
DateJanuary 1, 1969
StadiumRose Bowl
LocationPasadena, California
MVPRex Kern (Ohio State QB)
FavoriteOhio State by 3½ points [1][2]
National anthemThe Ohio State University Marching Band
RefereeCharles Moffett (Pacific-8)
Halftime showSpirit of Troy, The Ohio State University Marching Band
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersCurt Gowdy, Kyle Rote
Rose Bowl
 < 1968  1970

The 1969 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game played on January 1, 1969. It was the 55th Rose Bowl Game. The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the USC Trojans, 27–16. Rex Kern, the Ohio State quarterback, was named the Rose Bowl Player Of The Game.[3]

Heisman Trophy winner O. J. Simpson rushed for 171 yards and an 80-yard touchdown run, but USC had five turnovers, including an interception and a fumble by Simpson. It was only the second #1 vs. #2 matchup in the Rose Bowl, the first was six years earlier. It was the first time in the history of the Rose Bowl Big 9(Ten) – PCC/Big Ten – AAWU agreements that two unbeaten teams faced each other.

It was the first of four Rose Bowl matchups featuring Ohio State coach Woody Hayes and USC coach John McKay. It was the first of three with the national championship on the line for both schools.


This was only the second time in the Rose Bowl where the #1 and #2 teams in the AP Poll played and only the third time in a bowl game: the 1963 Rose Bowl was the first and the 1964 Cotton Bowl Classic was the second. It was the 12th time overall that the #1 and #2 team faced each other since the inception of the AP Poll in 1936.[4] The Bowl Championship Series was created later to make at least one matchup of the top two teams in the nation.

Ohio State Buckeyes[edit]

The Buckeyes featured a group called "The Super Sophomores" playing in their first varsity season: John Brockington, Leo Hayden, Rex Kern, Jim Otis, Jim Stillwagon and Jack Tatum. Ohio State was favored by 3½ points.[1]

USC Trojans[edit]

The Trojans finished undefeated with one tie at the end of the season against #9-ranked Notre Dame. They had been ranked #1 since October 19, but the 21–21 tie put Ohio State in the top spot. They were captained by Heisman Trophy winner O. J. Simpson.

Game summary[edit]

The 1969 Rose Bowl was also the beginning of a celebration of a century of college football. Later during the 1969 college football season, many teams would wear uniform patches or helmet stickers with "100" to signify the anniversary.

A number of celebrities were present, including President-elect Richard Nixon, Bob Hope, and former Oklahoma football coach and then-College Football on ABC analyst Bud Wilkinson.[5] First Lady Pat Nixon was a graduate of USC, but President Nixon spent time on both sidelines.[5] Richard Nixon called the Rose Bowl Game, "the prize game of all bowl games."[5]

After O.J. Simpson scored on an 80-yard run to give USC a 10-0 lead, a Trojans fumble at their 21-yard line set up a Rex Kern pass to Leo Hayden for the final four yards. A fumbled reception cost Southern Cal the ball again at its own 16. USC had five turnovers, including two by Simpson. Simpson, besides having a fumble and interception, also underestimated the speed of Jack Tatum, the Ohio State cornerback. This happened on a swing pass that should have been a touchdown, and then on the same series when Simpson overthrew a touchdown pass to Ted DeKraai. Ohio State had one fumble, but managed to keep possession.


First quarter[edit]

  • No scoring

Second quarter[edit]

  • USC - Ayala 21 field goal, 9:40
  • USC - Simpson 80 run (Ayala kick), 6:38
  • OSU - Otis 1 run (Roman kick), 1:45
  • OSU - Roman 26 field goal, 0:03

Third quarter[edit]

  • OSU - Roman 25 field goal, 1:40

Fourth quarter[edit]

  • OSU - Hayden 4 pass from Kern (Roman kick), 13:52
  • OSU - Gillian 16 pass from Kern (Roman kick),10:05
  • USC - Dickerson 19 pass from Sogge (Sogge pass failed), 0:45


The super sophomores would be stunned in defense of their national title in the 1969 Michigan vs. Ohio State football game, one of the most notable in the Michigan – Ohio State football rivalry. As seniors, they returned to Pasadena in January 1971, but lost to a Stanford team led by Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett.

After losing the 1969 Rose Bowl, the Pac-8 (later Pac-10, and later still Pac-12) dominated the series for the next two decades, winning the next four Rose Bowls, 10 of the next 11 and 16 of the next 18.

The 2002 Rose Bowl was the third Rose Bowl game matchup between the #1 and #2 teams.


  1. ^ a b Sullwold, Chet (January 1, 1969). "Rose Bowl theme simple: Who's No.1?". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). p. 73.
  2. ^ "Young Buckeyes slight favorites over Trojans". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 31, 1968. p. 2B.
  3. ^ 2008 Rose Bowl Program Archived 2008-03-06 at the Wayback Machine, 2008 Rose Bowl. Accessed January 26, 2008.
  4. ^ Games Where #1 Faced #2 Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine (kiko13.com)
  5. ^ a b c Welcome Home. Time Magazine, January 10, 1969


  • University of Southern California football media guide. (PDF copy available at www.usctrojans.com)
  • Ohio State University football media guide. (PDF copy available at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com)
  • College Football's Twenty-Five Greatest Teams: The Sporting News. ISBN 0-89204-281-8
  • Park, Jack (2003). The Official Ohio State Football Encyclopedia: National Championship Edition. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 1-58261-695-7.
  • Jenkins, Dan - Defense And Rex Make A King. Ohio State's Buckeyes came from 10 points behind to win the Rose Bowl and the national championship with a crushing display of excellence that kept USC's offense in hand and its defense dismayed. Sports Illustrated, January 13, 1969