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1979 Rose Bowl

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Title: 1979 Rose Bowl  
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Subject: 1970 Rose Bowl, 1948 Rose Bowl, 2007 Rose Bowl, Charles White (American football), 1933 Rose Bowl
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1979 Rose Bowl

1979 Rose Bowl
65th Rose Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Michigan 0 3 7 0 10
USC 7 10 0 0 17
Date January 1, 1979
Season 1978
Stadium Rose Bowl
Location Pasadena, California
MVP Charles White (USC RB)
Rick Leach (Michigan QB)
Attendance 105,629
United States TV coverage
Network NBC
Announcers: Curt Gowdy, John Brodie, O. J. Simpson
Rose Bowl
 < 1978  1980

The 1979 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game played on January 1, 1979. It was the 65th Rose Bowl Game. The USC Trojans, champions of the Pacific-10 Conference, defeated the Michigan Wolverines, champions of the Big Ten Conference, 17–10. USC running back Charles White and Michigan quarterback Rick Leach were named the Rose Bowl Players of the Game.


Michigan Wolverines

Michigan came into the game ranked 5th with a 10–1 record. Their only loss was to Michigan State. Michigan tied for the Big Ten title with Michigan State and earned the Rose Bowl berth because the Spartans were on probation.

USC Trojans

USC came into the game ranked second in the Coaches' Poll and third in the AP Poll with an 11–1 record. USC defeated then #1 ranked Alabama, 24–14, in Birmingham early in the season, but subsequently suffered their lone defeat to Arizona State, 20–7, in Tempe. USC defeated UCLA, 17–10, to win the Pac-10 Conference, and then closed out the regular season by defeating defending national champion, Notre Dame, 27–25.

Charles White's "Phantom Touchdown"

From the Michigan three-yard line during the second quarter, in a dive over the middle towards the goal-line, Charles White fumbled the ball before he entered the end-zone.[1][2] The officials for this game were made up of a Pac-10/Big Ten crew. Upon White's fumble, a Pac-10 official immediately and correctly marked the ball around the one-yard line and signaled that there had been a change of possession. Then a Big Ten official came running in raising his hands signaling that White had scored a touchdown. This touchdown has become known as White's "Phantom Touchdown" as he was awarded the score after first fumbling, then entering the end-zone without the ball. This has been confirmed by White himself. The same Pac-10 official who awarded White this touchdown previously had ruled that USC quarterback Paul McDonald threw an incomplete pass in the final minute of Southern Cal's November 25, 1978 game against Notre Dame, when replays showed McDonald had fumbled and the Irish had recovered. Notre Dame led at the time, 25-24, but the Trojans drove downfield after that controversial call and kicked a field goal with 0:02 left to win, 27-25.


First quarter

Second quarter

  • Michigan - Gregg Willner, 36-yard field goal
  • USC - Charles White, 3-yard run (Frank Jordan kick)
  • USC - Frank Jordan, 35-yard field goal

Third quarter

  • Michigan - Roosevelt Smith, 44-yard pass from Rick Leach (Gregg Willner kick)

Fourth quarter

  • No score


In the Sugar Bowl, Alabama (ranked #3 in the UPI and #2 in the AP) upset #1 Penn State, 14–7. Thus, USC vaulted into the #1 spot in the UPI poll while Alabama was #1 in the AP poll.


  1. ^ "The List: Worst calls in sports history".  
  2. ^ "Biggest Blown Calls in Sports History".  

External links

  • Summary at Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan Athletics History
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