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1969 Rose Bowl

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1969 Rose Bowl

1969 Rose Bowl
55th Rose Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Ohio State 0 10 3 14 27
USC 0 10 0 6 16
Date January 1, 1969
Season 1968
Stadium Rose Bowl
Location Pasadena, California
MVP Rex Kern (Ohio State QB)
National anthem The Ohio State University Marching Band
Referee Charles Moffett (Pacific-8)
Halftime show Spirit of Troy, The Ohio State University Marching Band
Attendance 102,063
United States TV coverage
Network NBC
Announcers Curt Gowdy, Kyle Rote

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.[1]

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 1963 Rose Bowl being the first. 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.[2] The Bowl Championship Series was created later to make at least one matchup of the top two teams in the nation.

Ohio State Buckeyes

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.

USC Trojans

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

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 1968 President-elect Richard Nixon, Bob Hope, and Oklahoma football coach Bud Wilkinson.[3] First Lady Pat Nixon was a graduate of USC, but President Nixon spent time on both sidelines.[3] Richard Nixon called the Rose Bowl Game, "the prize game of all bowl games."[3]

A USC fumble at the Trojans' 21-yard line set up a Rex Kern pass to Leo Hayden for the final four yards, then a fumbled reception cost Southern Cal the ball again at its own 16. USC had five turnovers, including two by O. J. 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

  • No score

Second quarter

  • 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

  • OSU - Roman 25 field goal, 1:40

Fourth quarter

  • 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. They would appear in their senior season in the 1971 Rose Bowl where they lost to a Stanford team led by Jim Plunkett.

After losing the 1969 Rose Bowl, the Pac-8 (later, the Pac-10) would dominate 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. ^ 2008 Rose Bowl Program, 2008 Rose Bowl. Accessed January 26, 2008.
  2. ^ Games Where #1 Faced #2 (
  3. ^ a b c Welcome Home. Time Magazine, January 10, 1969


  • University of Southern California football media guide. (PDF copy available at
  • Ohio State University football media guide. (PDF copy available at
  • College Football's Twenty-Five Greatest Teams: The Sporting News. ISBN 0-89204-281-8
  • 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
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