This was the year Prothro had geared his recruiting efforts towards as he believed this was his best team and was capable of contending for the national championship. The Bruins, quarterbacked by a sensational Jr. College transfer Dennis Dummit discovered by Prothro, were undefeated until they faced #10 Stanford in Palo Alto. Once again, Prothro was let down by now senior kicker Zenon Andrusyshyn as he missed a short field goal late in the game with the score tied 20–20. Suddenly, two long Jim Plunkett passes had Stanford in field goal range in the final seconds, but UCLA blocked Steve Horowitz's attempt to preserve the tie.
Once again, the UCLA-USC game would decide the Pac-8 title and the 1970 Rose Bowl berth. UCLA was ranked 6th with a 5–0–1 record in conference and 8–0–1 overall USC was #5 and was 6–0 in conference and 8–0–1 overall (tied Notre Dame in South Bend, 14–14); UCLA and USC were both unbeaten coming into their rivalry game for the first time since 1952. UCLA scored midway through the fourth quarter to take a 12–7 lead (knowing he need a win and not a tie to advance to the Rose Bowl, Prothro had the Bruins go for two after each touchdown and each attempt failed). USC then drove to the winning touchdown with 1:38 to play to win 14–12. The Trojans were aided by two controversial calls; the first was a dubious pass interference call on UCLA's Danny Graham on a 4th-and-10 incompletion. Secondly, on the winning touchdown pass reception, USC receiver Sam Dickerson appeared to be either out of bounds, out of the back of the end zone, or both. This loss supposedly was harder for Prothro to take than the 1967 loss and the freak officiating calls resembled the debacle at Tennessee in 1965.