1972 Rose Bowl

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1972 Rose Bowl
58th Rose Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Stanford 0 0 3 10 13
Michigan 0 3 0 9 12
Date January 1, 1972
Season 1971
Stadium Rose Bowl
Location Pasadena, California
MVP Don Bunce (Stanford QB)
Favorite Michigan by 10½
Referee Jerry Markbreit (Big Ten)
(split crew between Big 10 and Pac-8)
Attendance 103,154
United States TV coverage
Network NBC
Announcers Curt Gowdy, Al DeRogatis
Rose Bowl
 < 1971  1973

The 1972 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game played on January 1, 1972. It was the 58th Rose Bowl Game. The Stanford Indians defeated the Michigan Wolverines, 13–12. The MVP was Stanford quarterback Don Bunce.


Michigan Wolverines[edit]

Michigan started their season with a 21-6 win over #20 Northwestern in Evanston, IL. They rose to #3 by winning their next 8 games by a combined score of 358-40, including three straight shutouts over Virginia, UCLA, and Navy. But the Wolverines were almost caught looking ahead to their showdown with Ohio State, and escaped with a 20-17 win at Purdue. They then beat the Buckeyes 10-7 to finish as undefeated Big 10 champions. It was the Wolverines' first undefeated regular season since 1948, and they were making their second appearance in the Rose Bowl under third-year coach Bo Schembechler.[1]

Stanford Indians[edit]

The Indians had won the previous year's Rose Bowl behind the heroics of Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett, who had graduated. Plunkett's backup Don Bunce, running back Jackie Brown, and the "Thunderchickens" defense, led Indians to an 8–3 record and a return appearance in the Rose Bowl. Stanford's key wins came against Dan Fouts and Oregon (38–17), at USC (33–18), and at 11th-ranked Washington (17–6). However, they were caught looking ahead to the Rose Bowl decider vs. rival California, and were upset by San Jose State 13-12, in a game that saw their kicker Rod Garcia miss 3 field goals. They rebounded and ended the regular season with a 14–0 shutout over archrival California.[2][3] This was also the last football game that Stanford would play as the "Indians." The following season, Stanford changed their nickname from "Indians" to "Cardinals" (later the "Cardinal"), referring to the school's primary color.

Game summary[edit]

Michigan came into the game ranked #3, but had little hope of winning the national championship as #1 Nebraska was facing #2 Alabama in the Orange Bowl (eventually won by Nebraska, 38-6). The game was the first Rose Bowl meeting between the two schools since the inaugural Rose Bowl in 1902, in which Michigan crushed Stanford, 49–0. In the 1972 rematch, Michigan was favored by 10½. The game started slowly as rain the previous week had made the turf soggy and both teams showed stout defense.[1] In the first quarter, Stanford placekicker Rod Garcia attempted field goals from 52 and 55 yards, but missed both.[4] Michigan kicker Dana Coin made a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter for the only first half scoring.[1] In the first series of the second half, Stanford stopped the Wolverines on 4th and 1 at Stanford's 4-yard line, then marched down to tie the game on Garcia's 42-yard field goal.[1]

As the fourth quarter began, Michigan's Fritz Seyferth scored on a one-yard dive to put Michigan up 10–3. After Stanford got the ball back, they faced fourth and ten from their own 33. Coach Ralston called for a fake punt, with Jim Kehl receiving the snap and handing the ball forward to Jackie Brown through Brown's legs.[5] Brown ran 33 yards for a first down, and followed up a minute later with a 24-yard touchdown run to tie the game.[6]

Late in the fourth quarter, Michigan recovered a Stanford fumble near midfield. Facing fourth down with time running down, the Wolverines attempted a 42-yard field goal. The kick was short, and Stanford safety Jim Ferguson caught the ball and attempted to run it out of the end zone. Instead, he was knocked back into the end zone by Ed Shuttlesworth for a controversial Michigan safety, as replays seemed to show that Ferguson's forward progress was to the 3-yard line. This made the score 12–10 with just over three minutes to play, and Michigan due to get the ball on a free kick.

Following the free kick, Stanford held Michigan to a three-and-out and got the ball back on their own 22-yard line with 1:48 to go. Bunce then threw five consecutive completions to take Stanford to the Michigan 17 with 22 seconds left. The Indians ran two more running plays to get to the Michigan 14 with 12 seconds left, and Garcia successfully kicked a 31-yard field goal to give Stanford a 13–12 upset.[1][2]


First quarter[edit]

  • None

Second quarter[edit]

  • Michigan - Dana Coin 30-yard field goal, 10:15

Third quarter[edit]

  • Stanford - Rod Garcia 42-yard field goal, 5:40

Fourth quarter[edit]

  • Michigan - Fritz Seyferth 1-yard run (Coin kick), 13:01
  • Stanford - Jackie Brown 24-yard run (Garcia kick), 6:29
  • Michigan - Safety: Ed Shuttlesworth tackled Jim Ferguson, 3:18
  • Stanford - Garcia 31-yard field goal, 0:12


Bunce finished 24 of 44 for 290 yards and was named the game's MVP. He played one year of professional football in the Canadian Football League before leaving football to become a successful orthopedic surgeon, eventually serving as team doctor for Stanford's football team from 1982 to 1992.[3] The game was the last football game Stanford played as the "Indians," becoming the "Cardinals" the following year before eventually becoming the singular "Cardinal" (the color) by 1981.[7][8][9] Stanford would not return to the Rose Bowl until 2000 and did not win another Rose Bowl until 2013.

Two Indians were top 10 selections in the 1972 NFL Draft. Offensive tackle Greg Sampson went sixth overall to the Houston Oilers, and linebacker Jeff Siemon went 10th to the Minnesota Vikings. Siemon was the Vikings' starting middle linebacker in three Super Bowl losses (VIII, IX and XI) and played 11 seasons for the club. Sampson played seven seasons in Houston and had a role in the 1974 film The Longest Yard.

Ralston departed Palo Alto shortly after the Rose Bowl to accept the head coaching position of the National Football League's Denver Broncos. The Broncos did not make the playoffs during any of Ralston's five seasons (1972-1976), but he acquired many of the players who formed the nucleus of Denver's legendary "Orange Crush" defense which led the franchise to Super Bowl XII under rookie coach Red Miller in 1977.

Michigan fell to 6th in the AP poll, trailing three schools from the Big Eight Conference (Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado), Alabama and Penn State. The Wolverines did not play in a bowl game in 1972, 1973 or 1974 despite a regular season record of 30-2-1 in that period. Michigan was done in (a) by an 0-2-1 record vs. Ohio State, with the losses, both in Columbus, by a combined five points, and (b) the Big Ten's "Rose Bowl or No Bowl" policy, which was finally rescinded in 1975, allowing an 8-1-2 Michigan team which again lost to Ohio State the opportunity to play in the Orange Bowl.

Schembechler's Wolverines returned to three consecutive Rose Bowls from 1977 to 1979, but lost all three (by 8, 7, and 7 points). In 1981, the Wolverines finally won their first bowl game under the legendary coach. Fittingly, Schembechler's 21-year career at Michigan ended with a loss in the 1990 Rose Bowl, leaving him 2-8 in the "Grandaddy Of Them All".


  1. ^ a b c d e "University of Michigan Football Media Guide" (PDF). GoBlue.com. p. 98. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  2. ^ a b "Stanford Football Media Guide" (PDF). Stanford Athletic Department. p. 177. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  3. ^ a b King, Jonah D. (2003-04-23). "Don Bunce, Rose Bowl MVP, dies". The Almanac. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  4. ^ "Stanford field goal earns 13–12 win over Michigan". The Robesonian (Associated Press). January 2, 1972. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Michigan knew fake punt was coming, but...". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. January 2, 1972. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  6. ^ Becker, Bill (January 1, 1972). "Michigan is upset". New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  7. ^ "What is the history of Stanford's mascot and nickname?". Stanford Athletics website. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  8. ^ "The Removal of the Indian Mascot at Stanford". Stanford Native American Cultural Center. Archived from the original on 20 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  9. ^ "Indians: A Search for Dignity". St. Petersburg Times. 1972-07-23. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 

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