It was Friday at Southern Cal—time for the traditional pep rally. There to stir up enthusiasm were the Trojan Marching Band, cheerleaders, song girls, students and alumni. A good time was had by all, with some of the USC players even doing some fancy dancing to the blaring music. The gaiety continued on Saturday before the homecoming game against Stanford, Trojan rooters sipping drinks and munching on barbecued food outside the Los Angeles Coliseum. And then it was time for USC fans to head for the game to see their team, a 22-point favorite ranked No. 1 in the nation, take on the twice-beaten Cardinals from The Farm, as they like to call Stanford.
USC took the opening kickoff, marched 72 yards in seven plays and quickly led 7-0. In the second period, the Trojans made it 14-0 and less than two minutes later it was 21-0. Everything was going perfectly for the Trojan fans. Then came the turnabout.
Stanford Quarterback Turk Schonert used 13 plays to take his team 80 yards for a score at the outset of the third period. Scoring the touchdown on a 19-yard pass from Schonert was Mike Dotterer, whose father, Dutch, had once been a major league baseball catcher. Going into the last quarter, USC still led 21-7 and even though the Trojans were no longer ripping off big yardage and their defense seemed somewhat vulnerable to Schonert's passing, there didn't seem any reason for USC to be overly concerned. When in doubt, the Trojans could always give the ball to Charles White on offense, and surely their defense would clamp down when it had to. But White, who had gained 169 yards in the first half, was limited to 52 thereafter, and his fumble at the Stanford 39 preceded a Cardinal drive that culminated in a Schonert-to-Ken Margerum pass good for nine yards and another touchdown. That came with 2:37 gone in the fourth period and closed the score to 21-14.
Then Schonert really furrowed the brows of USC rooters by taking the Cardinals 87 yards to knot the game at 21-all with 4:33 left. On the final play of that drive, Schonert was forced to scramble from the Southern Cal 10-yard line. He rolled to the left, faked a pass, cut a bit to the right, faked again and then zipped into the end zone.
Stanford had two chances to win after that, USC only one. A 53-yard Cardinal field-goal try was short with 38 seconds to go, and a 39-yard USC attempt with only three seconds left was blocked by Gordon Banks. That's when Stanford had its final chance. The blocked kick bounced into the grasp of Linebacker Gary Wimmer, who had a clear path to the goal line in front of him—and then bounced out again.
Even though the game wound up a tie, it was nonetheless an upset, particularly with Stanford coming from 21 points back. Asked to shed light on how his team had rallied so brilliantly. Cardinal Coach Rod Dowhower said, "I can't explain it." And then began explaining it. "We made some defensive adjustments at halftime. In the first half we lined up head to head and that didn't work. In the second half we adjusted our spacing, going for the gaps. Not only did it work, it took away the seams for [USC Quarterback Paul] McDonald on passing. We also called some plays they didn't expect. We threw a long pass on fourth-and-five and we threw a short pass for two yards on fourth-and-one."
That Stanford's comeback was no fluke was borne out by some statistics: the Cardinals had the ball for 20:38 of the second half; for the game they had 409 yards in total offense, 281 of them through the air, while USC had 362. And during the last two periods Stanford converted four third-down plays and three fourth-down tries.
Unlike USC fans, those at Arizona State were stunned before their team faced unbeaten and sixth-ranked Washington in another Pac 10 matchup. Three hours before the game, Sun Devil Coach Frank Kush announced he was being dismissed by the university. Kush, who had been at State since 1958, was second only to Alabama's Bear Bryant among active coaches, with a total of 176 victories.
The reason for Kush's dismissal stemmed from a $1.1 million suit brought against the coach, Athletic Director Fred Miller and other school officials by Kevin Rutledge, a punter on last season's team. Rutledge claimed he had been punched in the face by Kush after he had made a poor punt during last year's 41-7 loss to Washington. Kush denied the allegation. Three Sun Devil players, however, said they had seen Kush hit Rutledge. As a result, it was decided that the coach would have to be dismissed. "When you're fired, you're fired," Kush said philosophically. "I'm going fishing."