1971 Rose Bowl

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1971 Rose Bowl
57th Rose Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Stanford 10 0 3 14 27
Ohio State 7 7 3 0 17
Date January 1, 1971
Season 1970
Stadium Rose Bowl
Location Pasadena, California
MVP Jim Plunkett (Stanford QB)
Favorite Ohio State by 10 points [1]
Attendance 103,839
United States TV coverage
Network NBC
Announcers Curt Gowdy, Kyle Rote
Rose Bowl
 < 1970  1972

The 1971 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game played on January 1, 1971, in Pasadena, California. It was the 57th Rose Bowl Game. The Stanford Indians of the Pacific-8 Conference defeated the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes of the Big Ten Conference, 27–17.[2][3][4][5][6] The Player of the Game was Stanford quarterback Jim Plunkett, the Heisman Trophy winner.


Ohio State

Ohio State started the season ranked #1 and proceeded to roll off five easy wins by a combined score of 195-60. In their sixth game, they beat #20 Northwestern in Columbus, 24–10. But for some reason, Texas leapfrogged Ohio State to #1 after beating unranked Rice 45–21 that same day. The next week the Buckeyes won at Wisconsin 24–10 and dropped another spot to #3 as Notre Dame moved up to #2.

After a 10–7 win at Purdue, they fell to #5 despite still being undefeated, as Nebraska and Michigan passed them. They earned the Rose Bowl berth on the strength of their 20–9 victory over #4 Michigan in the game that decided the Big 10 title and rose back to #3. A week later, Notre Dame was upset by USC and Ohio State was back at #2 behind Texas. After Texas had lost to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl earlier in the day, Ohio State went into the Rose Bowl with a chance to claim the national championship with a win.


Stanford started the season ranked #10, and in the season opener they upset #4 Arkansas 34–28 at Little Rock. After an easy win over San Jose State, they traveled north to Eugene for a game that featured a quarterback battle between Plunkett and Oregon sophomore Dan Fouts. Stanford won 33–10, but then were caught looking ahead to their showdown with USC and lost 24–16 at home to Purdue. They then beat three-time defending Pac-8 champion USC at Stanford, 24–14 (avenging a last second loss to the Trojans the year before). An easy 63–16 win over conference doormat Washington State boosted the Indians to #8.

Next up was a showdown with #16 UCLA in Los Angeles for the conference lead. In what was expected to be another quarterback showdown between Plunkett and the Bruins' Dennis Dummit, the defenses dominated in Stanford's key 9–7 win. After an easy win over Oregon State, they rose to #6 before clinching the conference title in the Rose Bowl decider over sophomore QB Sonny Sixkiller and Washington, 29–22. They then suffered a pair of letdowns, losing to #13 Air Force 31–14 and to arch rival California, 22–14. In retrospect, the Pac-8 standings were so tightly bunched, that a win by either Oregon, UCLA, or Washington over Stanford would have sent that team to the Rose Bowl instead.


First quarter

  • Stanford - Brown 4-yard run (Horowitz kick), 10:20[7]
  • Stanford - Horowitz 37-yard field goal, 6:50
  • Ohio State - Brockington 1-yard run (Schram kick), 3:45

Second quarter

  • Ohio State - Brockington 1-yard run (Schram kick), 14:24

Third quarter

  • Stanford - Horowitz 48-yard field goal, 12:29
  • Ohio State - Schram 32-yard field goal, 8:33

Fourth quarter

  • Stanford - Brown 1-yard run (Horowitz kick), 10:03
  • Stanford - Vataha 10-yard pass from Plunkett (Horowitz kick), 8:18


Earlier that New Year's Day, top-ranked Texas lost 24–11 to #6 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.[6] Stanford's upset prevented Ohio State from claiming the national championship, which went to #3 Nebraska,[8] a 17–12 victor over #5 LSU that night in the Orange Bowl in Miami.[9][10][11][12] In the final AP poll taken after the bowls, Ohio State fell to fifth and Stanford rose to eighth.[8] Stanford repeated as Rose Bowl champions the following year, led by fifth-year senior quarterback Don Bunce, who redshirted this season.



  1. ^ "Anything can happen on New Year's Day". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 1, 1971. p. 3B.
  2. ^ Turran, Kenneth (January 2, 1971). "Stanford jars Buckeyes, 27-17". Milwaukee Sentinel. (Washington Post). p. 1, part 2.
  3. ^ Sons, Ray (January 2, 1971). "Stanford upsets Ohio State in Rose Bowl, 27-17". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). (Chicago Daily News Service). p. 11.
  4. ^ "Stanford shakes up Buckeyes". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. January 2, 1971. p. 6.
  5. ^ "Stanford upsets Buckeyes, 27-17". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 2, 1971. p. 1B.
  6. ^ a b Jenkins, Dan (January 11, 1971). "The one-day season". Sports Illustrated. p. 10.
  7. ^ Historical Media Guide, Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, 2009
  8. ^ a b Thomas, Ben (January 5, 1971). "Nebraska wins the vote as nation's best college club". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. p. 3B.,
  9. ^ https://www.ncaa.com/history/football/fbs
  10. ^ http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/trads/buckeye-champions.html
  11. ^ http://www.huskers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=606981
  12. ^ http://www.nationalchamps.net/NCAA/database/texas_database.htm
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