1971 Rose Bowl
57th Rose Bowl Game
1234 Total
Stanford 100314 27
Ohio State 7730 17
DateJanuary 1, 1971
StadiumRose Bowl
LocationPasadena, California
MVPJim Plunkett (QB, Stanford)
FavoriteOhio State by 10 points [1]
RefereeJohn Presley (Pacific-8)
(split crew: Pac-8, Big Ten)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersCurt Gowdy, Kyle Rote
Rose Bowl
 < 1970  1972

The 1971 Rose Bowl was It was the 57th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Friday, January 1. The Stanford Indians of the Pacific-8 Conference defeated the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes of the Big Ten Conference, 27–17.[2][3][4][5][6] The Player of the Game was Stanford quarterback Jim Plunkett, the Heisman Trophy winner.


Ohio State

See also: 1970 Ohio State Buckeyes football team

Ohio State started the season ranked first in the nation and proceeded to roll off five easy wins by a combined score of 195–60. In their fifth game, the Buckeyes won 48–29 at Illinois. But for some reason, Texas leapfrogged Ohio State to #1 after beating unranked Rice 45–21.[7] The next week the Buckeyes defeated #20 Northwestern 24–10, but dropped to third in the rankings as Notre Dame moved up to second after a rout of Navy.[8]

After a 10–7 win with a late field goal at Purdue on November 14, they fell to fifth despite still being undefeated, as Nebraska and Michigan passed them.[9] They earned the Rose Bowl berth on the strength of their 20–9 victory over #4 Michigan in their rivalry game that decided the Big Ten title and rose back to second, behind Texas.[10] After Texas lost in the Cotton Bowl to #6 Notre Dame earlier on New Year's Day, Ohio State went into the Rose Bowl with the inside track to claim the national championship.


See also: 1970 Stanford Indians football team

Stanford started the season ranked tenth, and in the season opener they upset #4 Arkansas 34–28 at Little Rock. After an easy win over San Jose State, they traveled north to Eugene for a game that featured a quarterback battle between Plunkett and Oregon sophomore Dan Fouts. Stanford won 33–10, but then were caught looking ahead to their showdown with USC and lost 24–16 at home to Purdue. They then beat four-time defending Pac-8 champion USC at Stanford, 24–14 (avenging a last second loss to the Trojans the year before). An easy 63–16 win over conference doormat Washington State boosted the Indians to #8.

Next up was a showdown with #16 UCLA in Los Angeles for the conference lead. In what was expected to be another quarterback showdown between Plunkett and the Bruins' Dennis Dummit, the defenses dominated in Stanford's key 9–7 win. After an easy win over Oregon State, they rose to sixth before clinching the conference title in the Rose Bowl decider over sophomore QB Sonny Sixkiller and Washington, 29–22. Stanford then suffered a pair of letdowns, losing to #13 Air Force 31–14 and to arch rival California, 22–14. The Pac-8 standings were so tightly bunched, that a win by either Oregon, UCLA, or Washington over Stanford would have sent that team to the Rose Bowl.


First quarter

Second quarter

Third quarter

Fourth quarter


Statistics   Stanford   Ohio State
First downs 21 22
Rushes–yards 37–143 67–364
Passing yards 265 75
Passes 20–30–1 7–20–1
Total yards 408 439
Punts–average 3–33 2–28
Fumbles–lost 3–2 2–0
Turnovers by 3 1
Yards penalized 3–46 6–68


Earlier that New Year's Day, top-ranked Texas lost 24–11 to #6 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.[6] Stanford's upset prevented Ohio State from claiming the national championship, which went to #3 Nebraska,[12] a 17–12 victor over #5 LSU that night in the Orange Bowl in Miami.[13][14][15][16] In the final AP poll taken after the bowls, Ohio State fell to fifth and Stanford rose to eighth.[12] Stanford repeated as Rose Bowl champions the following year, led by fifth-year senior quarterback Don Bunce, who redshirted this season.



  1. ^ "Anything can happen on New Year's Day". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 1, 1971. p. 3B.
  2. ^ Turran, Kenneth (January 2, 1971). "Stanford jars Buckeyes, 27-17". Milwaukee Sentinel. (Washington Post). p. 1, part 2.
  3. ^ a b Sons, Ray (January 2, 1971). "Stanford upsets Ohio State in Rose Bowl, 27-17". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). (Chicago Daily News Service). p. 11.
  4. ^ a b "Stanford shakes up Buckeyes". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. January 2, 1971. p. 6.
  5. ^ a b "Stanford upsets Buckeyes, 27-17". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 2, 1971. p. 1B.
  6. ^ a b Jenkins, Dan (January 11, 1971). "The one-day season". Sports Illustrated. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Texas moves to front spot in grid vote". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. October 27, 1970. p. 19.
  8. ^ "AP college football poll". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. November 3, 1970. p. 3B.
  9. ^ "Texas on top, but Arkansas test worries". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. November 17, 1970. p. 18.
  10. ^ "Bucks claim second". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. November 24, 1970. p. 15.
  11. ^ Historical Media Guide, Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, 2009
  12. ^ a b Thomas, Ben (January 5, 1971). "Nebraska wins the vote as nation's best college club". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. p. 3B.
  13. ^ "FBS Football Championship History". NCAA.com. Retrieved August 26, 2022.
  14. ^ "Ohio State Buckeyes Official Athletic Site - Traditions". Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  15. ^ "Nebraska's Five National Titles". Archived from the original on January 16, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  16. ^ "Texas Football History Database".