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A BEAUTIFUL ROSE, EVEN FOR 'BAMA
Douglas S. Looney
January 14, 1980
USC's one-point victory over Ohio State in Pasadena provided all the excitement anyone could ask for, and it gave the Crimson Tide something more—its first undisputed national championship since 1964
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January 14, 1980

A Beautiful Rose, Even For 'bama

USC's one-point victory over Ohio State in Pasadena provided all the excitement anyone could ask for, and it gave the Crimson Tide something more—its first undisputed national championship since 1964

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Carroll: "Get it in there."

Mason: "Ram it in there."

In the USC observer post, the reaction to the Schlichter throw was decidedly different.

Marshall: "My God, he's open! We missed a tackle."

Outside Linebackers Coach Artie Gigantino: "We missed a tackle."

But upstairs there never is time to dwell on the past. Gigantino immediately called down to the field, recommending a defense keyed to stop a fullback fake on a quarterback keeper. That's what the Buckeyes ran—just as the computer had said they would in this situation—with Schlichter keeping and getting the ball to the one. On second-and-goal at the one, the Trojans employed their 62 Shoot defense, the linebackers coming hard. It was the perfect call to crumple Buckeye Tailback Cal Murray for no gain. On third-and-one, Marshall was hollering into his phone, "They won't throw!" They didn't, and Fullback Paul Campbell was stuffed for no gain. And on the Bucks' fourth try, everyone upstairs for USC was yelling to watch for a Schlichter option. That it was, and he was bent backwards.

Mason: "It's the guards who have got to jump. Not Campbell. He should have plowed through. Get it! Get it!"

Carroll (quietly): "He didn't get it."

Meanwhile, USC's Marshall leapt to his feet in exultation, but he caught his thighs under the table and crashed back into his chair. "Damn, I've done that before."

This goal-line stand was the heart of the game, for it crushed the heart of the Bucks. The morning after, over breakfast, Robinson relived the moment and confessed that "90 times out of 100, they would have scored on us." In fact, he said, had the Buckeyes either thrown or pitched, they would have scored. Although Earle Bruce was second-guessing himself for not going for a field goal ("You hate to go to the well and come away dry"), Robinson supported his counterpart's decision, saying, "There's not a coach in the country who doesn't think he can make two yards in four tries." Certainly not a coach of a No. 1 team seeking to hold onto that spot.

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