These plays came on USC's initial significant drive. On the first, Simpson took the pass from Sogge for 16 yards down to the Ohio State three-yard line. He was breezing into the end zone, he thought, when out of nowhere flashed Tatum. The Buckeye sophomore saved four points, the difference between a touchdown and a field goal, by bouncing O.J. out of bounds. O.J. was not burning speed or he would have scored. He just didn't see Tatum coming, he said later, and he didn't know. Tatum was that fast, anyhow, although McKay respected the Buckeye defender by shaping his game plan to work away from him. Three plays later O.J. overthrew the pass, and USC came away with three points instead of seven.
This did not seem to matter much moments thereafter when O.J. got loose on a pitchout to the short side of the field, broke two tackles, faked a third man dizzy with a 180-degree cutback and sprinted 80 yards to a touchdown on the prettiest run of any Rose Bowl ever. It seemed then that O.J. was going to close out his splendid two years in the grandest of style.
He did, in fact, wind up with 171 yards, which is hardly an argument that Ohio State stopped him. He repeatedly kept the game rocking with good runs and pass catches. In his whole two years at USC he never stopped being the best collegiate runner that most of us have ever seen or will be seeing for quite a while.
But as the reign of O.J. ends, the reign of Ohio State's Woody Hayes and Rex Kern begins—or continues. Woody has been proving all season that the game has far from passed him by, and he made this unmistakably clear in Pasadena. His preparations were superb, right down to not letting his squad overeat or be over-impressed by the scenery, an attitude that outraged local boosters. Woody was tough in practice, and the California press thought even tougher with them. Offensively, he believed he could fun USC's middle, and he did. "We knew if they studied us, they'd want to stop us outside first, and they did a good job of it. But that gave us the inside running and the curl-in passes. They couldn't stop everything," he said.
Woody claimed, shortly before leaving on his annual visit with the troops in Vietnam, that he was not rattled or stunned when he trailed by 10 points. "We'd found out that we could run on 'em," he said. "And I didn't figure O.J. was going to break another one. I still thought we'd win."
One of the rather frightening aspects of the victory, for Ohio State's future opponents at least, is that Woody gets back Rex Kern and almost everybody else. True, he loses his big tackles, Dave Foley and Rufus Mayes, and a terrific linebacker, Mark Stier, and a few others from around the trenches, but Ohio State has never had a problem filling the trenches. Some of Woody's past teams looked like 11 tackles who had flipped a coin to see who took the snapbacks. But the throwers and the catchers and the runners and such superb defensive backs as Tatum and Mike Sensibaugh all come back to Woody for 1969 and most of them for 1970 as well. "They never made a mistake," said a discouraged USC player afterward. They may not for two more years.