It was fifty years ago today- Wednesday January 1, 1969- in the prestigious Rose Bowl the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes finished a perfect season by beating the #2 team in the nation- the USC Trojans- and their Heisman Trophy winning running back O.J. Simpson by the score of 27-16. The MVP of the Rose Bowl was Ohio State quarterback Rex Kern. OJ Simpson had a big game 171 yards rushing and an 80 yard touchdown run but USC turned the ball over 5 times leading to the loss. The 1968 Ohio State team- coached by Woody Hayes who won the Coach of the Year Award that season- is considered by many one of the greatest teams in college football history. The Buckeyes started that season though highly undervalued- at #11 in the pre-season poll. The #1 team in the pre-season was Purdue- who would finish 10th in the final poll after going 8-2.
1969 was a different era in college football. Today we are bowl gamed to the point where for the most part no one cares about most of the games. There are forty -one bowl games today- 80 teams go to bowl games. What kind of a reward is that? A mediocre season gets you to a bowl game. Back in 1969 there were 11 bowl games. It was a reward to be selected to go to a bowl.
The 1968 Bowl season ended on January 1st with the traditional four big bowl games being played. In the Cotton Bowl- Texas beat Tennessee 36-13, Orange Bowl Penn State completed an unbeaten season beating Kansas 15-14, Sugar Bowl Arkansas 16 Georgia 2 and the before mentioned Rose Bowl- Ohio State 27-16 over Southern Cal.
The Final Top 10 for the 1968 season 1- Ohio State 2- Penn State 3-Texas 4-Southern Cal 5-Notre Dame 6- Arkansas 7-Kansas 8- Georgia 9-Missouri 10-Purdue