The 1989 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game played on Monday January 2, 1989 because New Year's Day was on a Sunday. It was the 75th Rose Bowl Game, and also the 100th anniversary of the Tournament of Roses parade. The Michigan Wolverines defeated the USC Trojans 22-14. Michigan FB Leroy Hoard was named the Rose Bowl Player Of The Game. This was the first of 22 Rose Bowls broadcast by ABC Sports. It had been broadcast on NBC since the first television broadcast in the 1952 Rose Bowl.
Michigan opened the season with consecutive narrow losses to Notre Dame and Miami (FL) who were ranked #2 and #1 respectively at the time. But they recovered to go unbeaten the rest of the way, their only blemish being a 17-17 tie at Iowa. A 17-3 win over defending Big 10 champ Michigan State proved to be the difference as Michigan won the Big 10 by one game over Michigan State.
USC opened the season with 9 straight wins and rose to #2 in the rankings. They faced sixth ranked rival UCLA, who was 9-1 and had been ranked #1 for a couple of weeks earlier. Eric Ball, the 1986 Rose Bowl MVP had a crucial fumble in the UCLA vs Washington State game, when the #1 ranked Bruins were upset at home by the Cougars 34-30. The game was one of the notable ones in the UCLA-USC rivalry in that it was for the Pac-10 championship, a possible Heisman Trophy for either Troy Aikman of UCLA or Rodney Peete of USC. It was also for the Rose Bowl berth. Rodney Peete was found to have measles in the days before the game. USC used a strong ground game and "bend but don't break" defense, in front of the largest Rose Bowl Stadium regular season crowd in history, to beat the Bruins 31-22. The win over the Bruins set up a rare #2 USC vs. #1 Notre Dame for the next week. The Trojans lost to the eventual national champions Fighting Irish 24-10.
USC, behind the passing of Heisman Trophy runner-up Rodney Peete and running of Aaron Emmanuel, took a 14-3 lead at halftime. Despite their lack of early success, Michigan stuck with its pounding running attack led by a huge offensive line and running back (and game MVP) Leroy Hoard. They began to wear down the Trojans and USC's offense began to sputter. By the 4th quarter, Michigan's offensive line took over and the Wolverines took a 22-14 lead into the last 2 minutes. Peete tried to lead the Trojans to a touchdown and game tying 2-point conversion but Michigan's defense forced an interception to effectively end the game.
^JAY HOVDEY. Unbeaten U.C.L.A. Is Upset. New York Times. October 30. 1988 Quote:U.C.L.A.'s best running play ended when the tailback Eric Ball fumbled at the Bruin 37 after a gain of 17 yards. The fumble occurred midway through the third quarter, when U.C.L.A. led, 27-13. Five plays later, Washington State scored the second of four successive touchdowns. The fumble was typical of the seesaw nature of the game.