THE ROSE BOWL : Michigan Has the Last Half on USC, 22-14 : Hoard Carries Wolverines With 2 4th-Quarter Scores
Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler probably won’t have to reply to endless questions about his Rose Bowl record now.
He’s on a roll, and so are his Wolverines.
Michigan, with a stirring, second-half comeback, beat USC, 22-14, Monday in the 75th Rose Bowl game before a crowd of 101,688.
Schembechler, who has won more games than any active college coach, probably will savor his latest victory for quite a while. His Rose Bowl record modestly improved to 2-7, certainly a step in the right direction for him and the much-maligned Big Ten Conference in this game.
“When you add it all up, there’s a lot of difference between winning and losing,” said Schembechler, beaming in a postgame press conference. “Losing tears your heart out, and I don’t have a good one.”
Schembechler suffered a heart attack on the eve of his first appearance here against USC in 1970. He has had subsequent bypass operations.
A 6 1/2-point underdog, Michigan played like one in the first half, trailing, 14-3.
“We weren’t playing that well in the first half, but I knew that we could score on that team (USC) and stop them in the second half,” Schembechler said.
He was prophetic as the Wolverines completely outplayed the Trojans in the second half. Michigan put USC away when fullback Leroy Hoard broke up the middle for 61 yards, setting up a touchdown and an 8-point lead that the Trojans couldn’t overcome.
With 2 minutes remaining, there was still a chance for USC to tie the game. Quarterback Rodney Peete drove his team to the Michigan 27-yard line with 66 seconds left.
Then, the Trojans incurred a 5-yard offsides penalty, and tailback Ricky Ervins dropped a Peete pass before the quarterback’s next throw was intercepted by linebacker John Milligan.
So Michigan prevailed, providing some distinction for Schembechler and the Big Ten, which had lost 12 of 14 previous Rose Bowl games but now has won 2 straight.
As for USC Coach Larry Smith, he may be answering questions about his Rose Bowl record now.
Smith is 0-2, losing, 20-17, last year to Michigan State. This one probably hurt more because Smith was an assistant coach under Schembechler for 6 years at Miami of Ohio and Michigan.
So the game had special significance for Smith. Asked if he was disappointed, the obviously distraught Smith said, “I’m not disappointed, just damned angry.”
He had reason to be. His Trojans, who lost their final regular-season game to Notre Dame, 27-10, and a chance for the nation’s No. 1 ranking, seemed flat and uninspired in the second half.
Asked to evaluate his team now, Smith said: “We’re a good 10-2 team, that’s all. Michigan is an excellent team, very underrated, one of the top 5 in the country. They should have a great team next year. I hope we can play them here again.”
In his 2 seasons as USC’s coach, Smith has now lost 6 games, 3 of them to Big Ten teams (Michigan State twice). In every instance, turnovers plagued the Trojans.
USC committed 5 Monday, 3 fumbles and 2 interceptions, while Michigan lost only 1 fumble. The Trojans had only 14 turnovers in their first 10 games, and had 9 in the last two.
There’s another negative statistic that may haunt the Trojans. They became the first Pacific 10 representative to lose 2 consecutive Rose Bowl games to the Big Ten since 1964-65, when Illinois and Michigan beat Washington and Oregon State, respectively. And it’s the first time USC has ever had consecutive Rose Bowl losses.
This wasn’t a typical Michigan team inasmuch as it passed, and with some daring. Quarterback Demetrius Brown even threw on third and 2.
Michigan (9-2-1) had averaged 17 passes in 11 previous games. Brown threw 24 passes Monday, completing 11 for 144 yards.
His counterpart, Peete, completed 15 of 21 for 158 yards with 2 interceptions.
Smith said earlier that he expected Michigan to stay with its running game. But the Wolverines kept the Trojans off balance by both running and passing.
Hoard, a strong, 220-pound sophomore, contributed 142 yards to Michigan’s total of 208. He became the first running back to rush for more than 100 yards against USC this season.
The Trojans came into the game ranked No. 2 nationally in rushing defense, allowing an average of only 76.6 yards a game.
However, Smith said USC’s tackling was sloppy Monday and his team wasn’t swarming to the ball.
“It seemed like we thought we had the game won at halftime,” the USC coach said. “Momentum-wise, we never had a chance on offense. Our defense was on the field the entire third quarter. Then, when our offense got out there, it didn’t execute very well.”
USC couldn’t make a first down in the third quarter, with tailback Aaron Emanuel losing a fumble for the second time in the game on the first series.
As for Michigan, it was dominating. The Wolverines drove 70 yards to a touchdown at the outset of the third quarter. The last 6 yards were covered on a pass from Brown to flanker Chris Calloway, cutting the Trojan lead to 14-9. Hoard was stopped short on a 2-point conversion try.
Later in the quarter, Michigan’s Mike Gillette missed a 22-yard field goal attempt. He had blown a 34-yard try on the last play of the first half.
But Michigan was still in control, stuffing USC’s offense and moving on its own. The Wolverines went ahead, 15-14, 4 seconds into the fourth quarter on Hoard’s 1-yard run. His 32-yard run from his own 19-yard line was the key play in a 92-yard drive. Once again, a 2-point conversion try failed as Brown’s pass fell short.
USC’s offense, dormant in the third quarter, finally got untracked in the fourth quarter.
Peete scrambled for gains of 18 and 6 yards and completed a third-down pass to tight end Scott Galbraith for 11 yards in a drive that reached the Michigan 30.
On third and 2, Emanuel danced behind the line and then was stopped for no gain.
Smith sent Quin Rodriguez in to attempt a 47-yard field goal on fourth down. His kick had the distance, but it was off target to the right.
Rodriguez is not renowned as a long-distance kicker. He made a 47-yard field goal against Arizona State Nov. 12. However, for the regular season, he was only 2 for 4 on kicks from distances of 40 to 49 yards.
Smith, who said Rodriguez had been kicking well but the snap was low, didn’t second-guess himself for not trying for a first down.
There was 5:28 remaining when Rodriguez missed the kick that would have put USC ahead. If the Trojans could force the Wolverines to punt, they might have had another chance at a go-ahead field goal, or touchdown.
It wasn’t to be. On first down from the Michigan 30, Hoard broke two tackles at the line of scrimmage and turned upfield.
For a big man, he has surprising speed and he didn’t stop running until cornerback Chris Hale tackled him at the USC 9.
After a 5-yard penalty moved the ball back to the 14, Hoard charged to the USC 5 on first down. On second down, linebacker Delmar Chesley stopped Tony Boles with no gain. Chesley, however, was cited for a personal foul. It seemed the USC players were slow getting up from the pile on Hoard.
The 3-yard penalty, half the distance to the goal, gave Michigan a first down at the USC 2. Then, USC provided some resistance. Two running plays and Brown’s scramble netted only 1 yard.
Schembechler didn’t opt for a percentage field goal try, though, on fourth down. Hoard got the call and he squeezed through the line for a touchdown.
“I knew he’d score,” Schembechler said. “If he didn’t and they moved down to score (a field goal), they deserved it.”
Schembechler also noted that he didn’t have much confidence in his field goal kicker at that juncture.
Michigan, which out-gained USC, 230 to 141 yards in the second half, clearly deserved to win.
Perhaps, the Trojans thought the Wolverines would fold in the second half after Peete scored touchdowns on runs of 1 and 4 yards.
Peete said he expected USC to dominate in the fourth quarter as it had most of the season. Not this year.
Smith reportedly was upset with his team after the game. When a reporter asked about the coach’s tirade, offensive tackle John Guerrero said: “You mean when he went mad. He’s the coach and he was right. And, man, he really got on us. It was hard to take because we didn’t want to listen to anybody.”
Now the Trojans understand what Schembechler had to endure for so many years.