SI Vault
Joe Jares
January 12, 1976
There was little indication during the early part of the Rose Bowl that Oklahoma would have the remotest shot at the national championship. By half-time Ohio State led UCLA only 3-0, but it seemed like 33-0. The Buckeyes, led by two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin and Football Writers' Coach of the Year Woody Hayes, were favored by two touchdowns or more, and were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in both polls. In the first half they controlled the ball almost 21 of the 30 minutes, and were ahead in first downs 11-2 and in rushing yardage 155-9. They had romped over UCLA 41-20 earlier in the season and now it appeared they were going to come out in the second half and trample the Bruins' overworked defense.
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January 12, 1976

When It Came To Pass, Ucla Knew How

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"Very few people like to work," said Vermeil. "The first six days on the practice field we worked their living butts off. I just felt we had to make each player a better player and to do that we had to stay out and work."

Vermeil made it very clear he was the boss and was going to run things his way. There was no more trouble. Now in the second half he figured the conditioning was going to pay off—and he made a simple, but major, adjustment. He told Sciarra to take advantage of the man-to-man coverage and Ray Griffin's extra duties, and to pass more. Which is what Sciarra did, ending the day completing 13 of 19 for two touchdowns.

"There's no way they'll drive on us," a Buckeye assistant coach had said before the game, but UCLA took the second-half kickoff and moved 62 yards to set up Brett White's score-tying 33-yard field goal. On the Bruins' second possession they moved 61 yards to a go-ahead TD on a 16-yard pass play from Sciarra to Flanker Wally Henry. A few minutes later Sciarra connected again with the flamboyant Henry on a 67-yard pass, and Ohio State was reeling, trailing 16-3.

Reeling but not out. The Buckeyes opened the fourth quarter by marching 65 yards to a touchdown, Johnson bulling his way the last three yards. Klaban's kick was good and they trailed only 16-10. A few minutes later Ohio State took over the driver's seat again. A Sciarra pass was picked off by Craig Cassady, Hopalong's son, on his own 24 and he carried it back to the 50, where he was knocked out of bounds and then hit again—way late. He stayed down with a shoulder separation, UCLA was penalized for a personal foul and Ohio State had the ball on the Bruin 35.

What would it be? A pitchout to good ol' Archie? Johnson bulldozing up the middle? Some sort of Woody Hayes' flying wedge? Why no, Corny Greene went back to pass, which in view of Ohio State's success on the ground during the preceding touchdown drive may have been one of the least intelligent calls in Rose Bowl history. It was not only a bad call, it was a bad pass, which was stolen by UCLA's Barney Person, and Ohio State never had such an opportunity again. Later, Greene, under a strong rush, was intercepted once more, after which Hayes stomped on his cap, and UCLA came up with another big play, a "51 dive" by Tyler that turned into a 54-yard touchdown run. Whereupon Tyler announced himself as an All-America and Heisman Trophy candidate for next season. Greene wasn't so exuberant. "I just threw awful," he said.

UCLA's victory came 10 years after its last appearance in the Rose Bowl. That was over Michigan State, which had beaten it in the season's opening game, and that time, too, the Bruins had sweet revenge, 14-12.

"We don't go the Rose Bowl very often," said UCLA Athletic Director J. D. Morgan, "but when we do, we do it right."

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