1925: Elmer Layden, Notre Dame
The fullback in Notre Dame's vaunted "Four Horsemen" backfield, Layden led the Irish past Stanford with two long interception returns for touchdowns as well as one rushing touchdown.
1934: Don Hutson, Alabama
The Crimson Tide's All-American wide receiver closed out his college career in style, catching six passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns as Alabama rolled over Stanford.
1971: Jim Plunkett, Stanford
The Heisman Trophy-winning QB put on a show, completing 20 of 30 for 265 yards and one touchdown against previously unbeaten Ohio State.
1977: Charles White, USC
White replaces the injured Ricky Bell and leads the Trojans to victory with 114 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries.
1993: Tyrone Wheatley, Michigan
The Wolverines' RB races all over the field, recording 235 yards and three touchdowns in just three quarters before leaving with back spasms.
January 1, 1934: Columbia 7, Stanford 0
The talk leading up to the game didn't give the Lions much of a chance; but it's not surprising that most thought Columbia didn't have a shot. When the Lions received Stanford's invitation to play the game, Columbia administrators believed it was simply a ruse.
Once the teams hit the field, however, the joke was on Stanford. After days of torrential rains in Southern California, the field was nearly underwater when the teams met. The horrendous conditions sunk Stanford's powerful offense, leaving Columbia with a chance to snatch the one-score victory.
In the second quarter, with the ball on the Stanford 17, the Lions ran a trick play that displayed their brains more than their brawn. Quarterback Cliff Montgomery handed the ball off to fullback Al Barabas while making it seem as though the play was going to the other side of the field. The play worked perfectly, and Barabas went nearly unnoticed into the end zone.
Former New York Evening Journal writer, Bill Corum helped put the contest into historic perspective.
"This game, more than any other in college history, convinced the country that no section, and no team, really owns the game." (1)
January 1, 1942: Oregon State 20, Duke 16 (at Durham, NC)
Just 25 days after the "Day That Will Live in Infamy," the undefeated Duke Blue Devils took on the 7-2 Oregon State Beavers in the most peculiar setting in Rose Bowl history. The more than 2,000 miles separating Pearl Harbor and the Rose Bowl were not enough to assuage fears that the West Coast could be a target for the enemy. For security reasons, the game was moved to Durham.
In what became a home game for Duke, it was Oregon State that played like a team familiar with their surroundings. The teams traded scores throughout, and the game was knotted at 14 in the third. But the visitors would rally. Oregon State QB Bob Dethman connected with Gene Gray for a 68-yard TD pass. The Beavers missed the extra point, and the burden was placed on the Oregon State defense. The Beavers D stood strong, holding Duke scoreless for the rest of the game. Oregon State capped off the victory with an interception inside its own 20.
In a sobering reminder of the time in which the game was played, the two teams later became one, as the players met again on the field of battle. For many on the field that day, football would be their last hurrah before packing up and going to war; some left just weeks after the historic game.
January 1, 1980: USC 17, Ohio State 16
Some games become classic because of the Herculean effort of one man. This is one of those games. Charles White was handed the ball 39 times in USC's one point victory. White made every carry count, finishing the game with a Rose Bowl record 247 yards.
Both teams put up goal-line stands in the first half, but USC would strike first with a 41-yard field goal and a 53-yard touchdown pass from Paul McDonald to Kevin Willaims. The Buckeyes rallied. A 67-yard TD pass from Art Schlichter to Gary Williams and three Vlade Janakievski field goals left Ohio State up by six in the final quarter.
Down 16-10 with 5:31 remaining, the Trojans took control of the ball at their own 17. When his team needed him most, White took over. The Heisman Trophy winner carried six times for 70 yards on the final drive. His last rush was a one-yard plunge for the game winning score.
January 1, 1997: Ohio State 20, Arizona State 17
When Jake "The Snake" Plummer slithered into the end zone to give the Sun Devils a 17-14 lead with under two minutes remaining, it looked as though Arizona State was destined for perfection. ASU entered the game with an 11-0 record, and a Rose Bowl win coupled with a Florida State loss in the Sugar Bowl would give the team a national championship.
But the game wasn't over yet, and Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine was determined to keep the national title out of the Sun Devils' hands. Germaine, who grew up mere miles from the Arizona State campus, got the ball back on his own 35 with 1:33 remaining. After several completions and two crucial pass interference calls, the Buckeyes found themselves on the ASU 5. Germaine found a wide-open David Boston for the game-winning touchdown with :19 remaining.
An often overlooked story in this epic game was that its most outstanding player (Germaine) didn't even start. Junior Stanley Jackson got the nod, and Germaine didn't hit the field until there was 5:30 left in the second quarter.
January 1, 1963: USC 42, Wisconsin 37
When the fourth quarter of the game that was to determine the 1963 National Champion began, no one could have predicted that the clash would turn out to be one of the most memorable in Rose Bowl history.
The day began ominously for the Badgers, as they charged out of their locker room to play the game they believed was just moments away. However, when they reached the field, the Trojans were nowhere to be found. According to wide receiver (and future athletic director) Pat Richter, the Trojans didn't hit the field for another 10 minutes.
"You come running out of your locker room ready to go and all of a sudden, you have to stand there for 10 minutes and wait and you end up getting real flat." (2)
Whatever the reason, the top-ranked Trojans dominated the first half, sprinting to a 21-7 lead. USC didn't take their foot off the accelerator through the beginning stages of the second half. A score on the first play of the fourth quarter gave the Trojans a 42-14 lead. After that, the game began to swing to the Badgers. Over the next 12 minutes, the Badgers would score 23 straight points, coming astonishingly close to a comeback for the ages. Wisconsin quarterback Ron Vanderkelen threw for a Badger and Rose Bowl record 401 yards.
After Richter's 19-yard touchdown grab with 1:19 remaining, the Badgers failed to regain possession on an onside kick. The Trojans were unable to move the ball and ended up kicking back to the Badgers. On the last play of the game, the Badgers fielded the punt but were unable to make any more magic happen, losing the game by 5.
(1): Columbia Spectator, December 16, 1999
(2): The Capital Times, October 4, 2005 (article was excerpts from Vince Sweeny's "Always a Badger: The Pat Richter Story")