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The 1986 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game played on January 1, 1986. It was the 72nd Rose Bowl Gamemarker. The UCLA Bruins defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 45-28. UCLA tailback Eric Ball was named the Rose Bowl Player Of The Game. He ran for a Rose Bowl record four touchdowns.


See also 1985 NCAA Division I-A football season

Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa spent a number of weeks ranked number one. On October 19, 1985, they defeated the #2 Michigan Wolverines 12-10 in the thirteenth regular season matchup between a #1 and #2 team. Mike Haight, Chuck Long, and Ronnie Harmon were the stars for the Hawkeyes. They eventually lost one game on November 2, 1985 to Ohio State 13-22.. Iowa came into the game with a record of 10-1.

After much consideration, Chuck Long delighted Iowa Hawkeye fans by declaring that he would return for his senior season. He became an instant Heisman Trophy candidate, and Iowa was a pre-season top five team. After three weeks in 1985, the Hawkeyes ascended to #1 in the national rankings.

In Iowa's first game at #1, the Hawkeyes played Michigan State. A seesaw game had Michigan Statemarker leading, 31-28, in the waning minutes. Long drove Iowa the length of the field, and the Hawkeyes faced fourth and goal from the two yard line with just 27 seconds remaining. Since there was no overtime rule, Iowa needed to go for the touchdown and the win. Chuck Long faked a handoff to running back Ronnie Harmon and then ran to his right. His fake had fooled the Spartan defenders, and Long ran into the endzone, holding the ball high above his head as he crossed the goal line to give Iowa a 35-31 victory. He completed a school record 30 passes on 39 attempts for 380 yards and scored five touchdowns (four passing and the game winning score rushing) in the game.

Two weeks later, #1 Iowa faced #2 Michiganmarker in Kinnick Stadiummarker. Iowa trailed 10-9 as the Hawkeyes regained possession of the football at their own 22 yard line with just 5:27 remaining in the game. Long led Iowa on a 66 yard drive against the nation's top ranked defense, twice converting third-and-eight situations by completing passes to tight end Mike Flagg. Long drove the Iowa team to the 12 yard line with two seconds remaining to set up kicker Rob Houghtlin's game winning field goal as time expired. Chuck Long completed 26 of 39 passes for 297 yards in Iowa's 12-10 win.

A loss to Ohio Statemarker cost Iowa their #1 ranking, but the Hawkeyes still won the Big Ten title outright for the first time in 27 years. Chuck Long won many major national awards as a senior, including the 1985 Maxwell Award, given to the nation's top player and the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top quarterback. He was the Big Ten Player of the Year and a consensus first team All-American. Finally, Chuck Long was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy to Bo Jackson of Auburn in the closest race in the award's history, losing by just 45 points.

UCLA Bruins

UCLA defeated defending national champion BYU in Provo, 27-24 to start the season. They tied eventual SEC and Sugar Bowl champion Tennessee. The Bruins opened the PAC-10 season by losing at Washington, 21-14. They won the rest of their games leading to the 1985 USC vs UCLA game. Needing a win against 4-5 USC, UCLA struggled. UCLA was leading in the fourth quarter 13-10 when Eric Ball fumbled at the USC 1 as he was about to score the what would have been the clinching touchdown. Freshman quarterback Rodney Peete led USC on a drive, converting a key fourth down along the way. In the last 2 minutes, USC again faced a 4th down, this time at UCLA's 2 yard line. USC scored to take a 17-13 lead, then intercepted UCLA quarterback David Norrie as he tried to lead a Bruin comeback. UCLA's loss opened the door for Washington to grab the Rose Bowl berth, but they were upset by Washington State the same day, 21-20. Washington lost the advantage due to the loss in the 1985 Oregon State vs. Washington football game. This put Arizona State in position to win the conference as they entered their game with Arizona with only one conference loss (40-17 to UCLA). But later that evening, Arizona defeated Arizona State 16-13 to cause a tie between UCLA, Arizona State, and Arizona; UCLA won the tiebreaker and the Rose Bowl berth by virtue of its wins over Arizona and Arizona State. UCLA came into the game with a record of 8-2-1.

Game summary

Rose Bowl records at the Hall of Champions
The weather was overcast and 71 degrees. The UCLA Bruins wore white visitor jerseys, and the Iowa Hawkeyes wore their black home jerseys. Both teams wore Rose Bowl patches on their uniforms. The Iowa Hawkeye helmets bore a sticker with the letters "ANF" for "America Needs Farmers". Coach Hayden Fry had the players wear these stickers to bring attention the plight of American farmers.
  • Eric Ball, a freshman for UCLA, ran for 227 yards and tied a Rose Bowl record by scoring four touchdowns. Eric was in for the injured Gaston Green.
  • Matt Stevens was the UCLA quarterback. After sharing the #1 QB job with David Norrie for the first half of the season, he eventually lost the starter's job after playing poorly vs. Washington. Stevens did not find out he was starting until a few minutes before the game, when Norrie couldn't play due to an injury.
  • Iowa quarterback Chuck Long was sacked four times. A loophole with the redshirting rule allowed Long to play in his fifth bowl game. He is believed to be the only collegiate player to participate in five bowl games.
  • Iowa running back Ronnie Harmon fumbled the ball four times and later dropped a pass while wide open in the end zone as Iowa attempted a late comeback. He had only fumbled one time in the regular season.
  • Coach Terry Donahue's third Rose Bowl winning streak


First Quarter

  • Iowa—David Hudson, one-yard run. Rob Houghtlin PAT (Point after touchdown).
  • UCLA—Eric Ball, 30-yard run. John Lee PAT.
  • UCLA—Lee, 42-yard field goal.

Second Quarter

  • Iowa—Houghtlin, 24-yard field goal.
  • UCLA—Ball, 40-yard run. Lee PAT.
  • UCLA—Ball, six-yard run. Lee PAT.

At the half, the score is UCLA 24, Iowa 10. The story of the game so far is Ronnie Harmon's four fumbles and Eric Ball's three touchdowns.

Third Quarter

  • Iowa—Chuck Long four-yard run. Houghtlin PAT.
  • UCLA—Mike Sherrard, six-yard pass from Matt Stevens. Lee PAT.

Fourth Quarter

  • UCLA—Ball, 32-yard run. Lee PAT.
  • Iowa—Houghtlin, 52-yard field goal.
  • UCLA—Stevens, one-yard run. Lee PAT.
  • Iowa—Bill Happel, 11-yard pass from Long. Harmon run for two points.


Iowa missed an outside shot at the final #1 ranking, with #2 Miami losing to Tennessee 35-7 in the Sugar Bowl and #3 Oklahoma defeated #1 Penn State 25-10 in the Orange Bowl. Oklahoma had leapfrogged Iowa on December 10 in the poll. Michigan finished at #2 after their Fiesta Bowl win.

This game had a 22.7 television ratings share. Through 2007, only the 1987 Fiesta Bowl game has a higher U.S. television rating at 24.9. Only the 1988 Orange Bowl at a 20.8 and the 2006 Rose Bowl at a 21.7 have over a 20 share since the 1986 Rose Bowl.

Chuck Long

Though Iowa lost in Chuck Long's final game in the 1986 Rose Bowl a 45-28 loss to UCLA, the loophole with the redshirting rule allowed Long to play in his fifth bowl game. He is believed to be the only collegiate player to participate in five bowl games. Chuck Long's Iowa teams compiled a 35-13-1 record. He graduated with 10,461 passing yards and 74 touchdowns on 782 completions. He held every passing record at the University of Iowamarker except one (passes attempted in a game) when he graduated. Long holds the best completion percentage of any college quarterback all-time who has attempted more than 1,000 career passes. He was also the first Big Ten player and just the second player in college football history to throw for more than 10,000 yards in a career. Chuck Long was inducted into the College Football Hall of Famemarker in 1999 and the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

Ronnie Harmon

It has been implicated that Harmon was actually throwing the game with the fumbles and dropped pass.Coach Hayden Fry commented on the issue in his book High Porch Picnic: "Harmon took a lot of heat because he lost four fumbles, all in the first half. That was uncharacteristic of him; I think he fumbled once during the regular season. The game film reveals that every fumble he lost was caused by a UCLA defender making a hard hit. They just knocked the ball loose. They [UCLA] did a great job of tackling. UCLA made bad things happen to Iowa; Iowa didn’t self-destruct. Ronnie Harmon had a tremendous football career with the Hawkeyes, and I hated to see it end that way."

Future NFL players

Future NFL Players James Washington, Mark Walen, Ken Norton, Jr., Jim Wahler, Carnell Lake and Darryl Henley played in this game.


  1. 2008 Rose Bowl Program, 2008 Rose Bowl. Accessed January 26, 2008.
  2. No. 1 vs. No. 2. CBS Sportsline
  3. University of Iowa Football 2007 Media Fact Book
  4. Ron Maly: Hawkeye Past and Hawkeye Future. July 25, 2002. Abstract: Accusations by a mobster, Michael Franzese, a thug who was associated with sports agent Norby Walters, and was interviewed on HBO's Real Sports, implicated Ronnie Harmon in throwing the 1986 Rose Bowl.
  5. Fry, Hayden (2001)
  6. UCLA Football Media Guide


  • University of Iowa Football 2007 Media Fact Book - (PDF copy available at
  • UCLA Football Media Guide (PDF Copy available at
  • The 1986 ROSE BOWL GAME IOWA VS. UCLA. Touchdown Publications, January 1, 1986 (Game Program)

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