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The 1976 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game played on January 1, 1976. It was the 62nd Rose Bowl Gamemarker. The UCLA Bruins defeated the number one ranked and undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes 23-10. UCLA quarterback John Sciarra was named the Rose Bowl Player Of The Game. This was the first post season that football teams from the Big Ten Conference and Pacific-10 Conference could appear in other bowl games since the Rose Bowl agreement was signed for the 1947 Rose Bowl. This game marked Ohio State coach Woody Hayes' last appearance in the Rose Bowl game.


This was the second meeting between the two schools that season. Ohio State handed UCLA its first loss of the season, 41-20, on October 4, 1975 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseummarker. After the game, Woody Hayes prophetically told his team that they would be facing UCLA again in the Rose Bowl. UCLA was the only opponent to score more than 14 points in a game all season against Ohio State, and they did it twice.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Buckeye coach Woody Hayes brought an undefeated team featuring two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin to Pasadena. It was the record fourth consecutive appearance for Hayes. It was also eighth and final appearance in the Rose Bowl for Hayes. It was a record fourth and final Rose Bowl start for Griffin. As of 2007, Griffin remains the only player to start in four Rose Bowls. Ohio State capped an undefeated regular season by defeating Michigan 21-14 in Ann Arbor for Woody's last outright Big Ten championship, and also his last victory over Michigan in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. The Wolverines held the Buckeyes 30 minutes without a score. Tied at 14-14, the Wolverines needed a win to advance to the Rose Bowl. Freshman Michigan quarterback Rick Leach threw an interception caught by Ray Griffin, which was run in for the winning touchdown. Michigan, which finished the regular season 8-1-2, was invited to the Orange Bowl to face #3 ranked Oklahoma.

UCLA Bruins

It was the only Rose Bowl appearance for Dick Vermeil in only his second season coaching at UCLA. He would leave to coach the Philadelphia Eagles after the season. In addition to the 41-20 Ohio State loss, UCLA had also lost at home to Washington 17-13 and was tied by Air Force 20-20, but managed to win all their other Pac-8 games, including a fumble-plagued 25-22 win over cross town rival USC in the UCLA-USC rivalry to clinch the Rose Bowl berth. In that Friday night after Thanksgiving game, UCLA fumbled 11 times and lost 8 of them, but their maligned defense bailed them out time and time again. UCLA ended up tied with California for the Pac-8 championship, but advanced to the Rose Bowl on the strength of their 28-14 win in an October matchup with the Golden Bears. The 1975 USC-UCLA game was legendary coach John McKay's final game at the Coliseum.

Game summary

Both teams wore their home uniforms, Ohio State in scarlet jerseys, and UCLA in powderkeg blue jerseys. The weather was clear and 60 degrees.

In the game itself, Ohio State dominated the first half but could only muster the 3 points that it got on its opening possession. UCLA did not even pick up a first down until late in the 2nd quarter, but a couple of Ohio State turnovers and a key stop on 4th and 1 by the Bruin defense kept them in the game.

The second half saw UCLA open up its offense, utilizing play action and passing on first down. This helped open up their veer option rushing attack, and on their first possession of the 3rd quarter, UCLA marched to a tying field goal. After stopping Ohio State, UCLA then marched for a touchdown and a 9-3 lead (the extra point was missed). After stopping the Buckeyes again, the Bruins struck for the big play, a 67 yard touchdown pass from John Sciarra to speedy flanker Wally Henry. Suddenly the 15 1/2 point underdog Bruins were up 16-3. Ohio State, which inexplicably began passing the ball with regularity, returned to its dominating ground attack and scored early in the 4th quarter to cut UCLA's lead to 16-10. Ohio State got the ball right back, but again tried to resume an air attack. Quarterback Cornelius Greene was intercepted by Pat Schmidt, and on the ensuing possession with just under 5 minutes to play, running back Wendell Tyler took an option pitchout, sped up the sideline, cut back at the perfect instant, and held the ball aloft as he crossed the goal line on a 54 yard run to clinch the game, 23-10. Another Greene interception killed any chance of a Buckeye last gasp comeback attempt. Woody Hayes then trudged across the field to congratulate Vermeil before the game was over.


First quarter

Second quarter


Third quarter

  • UCLA: Brett White, 33-yard field goal.
  • UCLA: Wally Henry, 16-yard pass from John Sciarra. White kick failed.
  • UCLA: Henry, 67-yard pass from Sciarra. White converts.

Fourth quarter

  • Ohio State: Pete Johnson, three-yard run. Klaban converts.
  • UCLA: Wendell Tyler, 54-yard run. White converts.


Woody Hayes had a very short meeting with the press in which he stated, "We got outcoached and just got beat." Aware of the Buckeye loss, the 1975 Oklahoma Sooners played for the number 1 ranking in the 1976 Orange Bowl, with Alabama lurking after already beating Penn State in the Sugar Bowl 13-6. Texas A&M, ranked #2 at the end of the regular season, lost to Arkansas for the Cotton Bowl berth, and then to USC in the Liberty Bowl. Oklahoma would finish #1 in the AP poll after defeating Michigan 14-6 in the Orange Bowl. Ohio State would finish 3rd , and UCLA Fifth. Woody Hayes would finish with a 4-4 record in the Rose Bowl, and would be denied by Bo Schembechler, Rick Leach, and the rest of the Michigan Wolverines from reaching the Rose Bowl ever again. Dick Vermeil was able to move to the Philadelphia Eagles, whom he would lead to the Super Bowl in five years. This was the second time UCLA had defeated the #1 team in the Rose Bowl after having lost to that same team during the season. The other time was in the 1966 Rose Bowl vs. Michigan State. In the The Official Ohio State Football Encyclopedia, this loss is listed as one of the most devastating setbacks in Ohio State football history.

By the 1982 college football season, UCLA would make the Rose Bowl their home stadium, moving from the Los Angeles Coliseum. As of 2008, the attendance of 105,464 still stands as the largest crowd to ever watch a UCLA football game in the Rose Bowl stadium. It is a record that is not likely to be broken, as the Rose Bowl seating has been reduced to 91,136 for UCLA Bruins Football and 92,542 for the Rose Bowl Game



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