Remembering Four of the Greatest Individual Buckeye Performances in Rose Bowl Lore

By Chris Lauderback on December 26, 2018 at 3:05 pm
Ohio State is 7-7 in 14 Rose Bowl appearances.
Kirby Lee-USAToday Sports

Though Ohio State's 14 trips to the Rose Bowl make it the most-played bowl game for the program by far, the Buckeyes haven't exactly lit it up in Pasadena, posting a 7-7 all-time record. 

The most recent appearance occurred in 2010 as the Buckeyes took down Oregon and the most meaningful came in 1969 as Ohio State beat No. 2 Southern Cal for the national championship. 

The '69 win moved the Buckeyes to 4-1 in the Rose Bowl to that point but the 70s and 80s saw Ohio State go a combined 1-6 before order was restored with a 1997 victory over No. 2 Arizona State and the noted 2010 decision over the No. 7 Ducks. 

Statistically speaking, there haven't been quite as many outstanding individual performances as you might think. Rex Kern was key to the '69 win, Dave Leggett and Howard "Hopalong" Cassady were studs in Woody Hayes' first Rose Bowl to cap a national title effort from the 1954 squad and Art Schlichter threw for 297 yards in a 1980 Rose Bowl loss to USC. 

Those efforts all serve as bridesmaids to the four I selected below as the most notable individual performances turned in by Buckeyes in Pasadena. 


Jim Tressel was always sly like a fox and the 2010 Rose Bowl was a prime example as The Senator unleashed quarterback Terrelle Pryor in a way that hadn't been seen in his career to that point. 

The Buckeyes took down No. 7 Oregon as Pryor completed a career-high 23 passes on a then-career-high 37 attempts for 266 yards and two touchdowns. 

With another 72 on the ground, Pryor went for 338 total yards, good for 81% of Ohio State's total offense in an electric dual-threat effort. 

Down 17-16 in the third quarter, Pryor led OSU on a field goal drive completing 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards including a 36-yard dime to DeVier Posey while rolling left and throwing across his body. 

In the fourth quarter, still leading 19-17, Pryor put the game out of reach engineering a 13-play, 81-yard drive that chewed up 6:01 of game time capped by a perfect 17-yard back shoulder touchdown toss to Posey. 

Pryor tallied a greasy 11-yard scramble for a first down early in the drive and completed 4-of-5 throws on the possession including the legendary 24-yard hookup with Jake Ballard on 3rd-and-13 following a nifty scramble and stiff-arm to buy time. 


Facing an unbeaten Arizona State squad led by Jake Plummer on offense and Pat Tillman on defense, the Buckeyes found themselves in a dogfight and struggling to move the ball. 

Down 10-7 in the third quarter, head coach John Cooper went to the bullpen and brought on quarterback Joe Germaine to try and get the Buckeye offense on track against a very good Sun Devil unit. Germaine went to work hitting Dimitrious Stanley for a 72-yard strike putting Ohio State in front 14-10. 

Plummer would score what he thought was the winning touchdown with 1:40 left in regulation giving Arizona State a 17-14 lead but his sideline celebration proved premature as Cooper again brought in Germaine to lead Ohio State's last gasp. 

Germaine calmly led the Buckeyes 65 yards to pay dirt hitting Stanley three different times including two crucial third down conversions before finding David Boston with a five-yard toss with just seconds left on the clock. 

The gutsy performance earned Germaine Most Outstanding Player honors. He only completed 9-of-17 passes but the 131 yards and two clutch touchdowns were enough to vault the then-backup into Ohio State lore. 


My default thought was to not include a performance from a loss but Cris Carter's effort as a freshman in a 20-17 loss to USC was too good to omit. 

The No. 6 ranked Buckeyes held a major edge in total yards but four turnovers, all by quarterback Mike Tomczak, and Southern Cal's determination to keep Keith Byars in check signaled a big day for Carter. 

Carter racked up nine receptions for a then-Rose Bowl record 172 yards with a score, breaking a record that had stood since 1935 (Don Hutson, Alabama, 164 yards). As usual, many of his catches in the game were of the acrobatic variety. 

He turned in Ohio State's only touchdown of the day on a diving 18-yard catch moving the Buckeyes to within five points of the Trojans. Tomczak converted the two-point conversion cutting USC's lead to 20-17 but Earle Bruce's squad would get no closer. 

Still, this one wouldn't have even been close if not for Carter. 


Okay, so I'm cheating just a tad on this one. 

Archie Griffin did indeed post a hell of an effort with 149 rushing yards including a 47-yard burst for six with just over four minutes left to put the game away but he was not alone. 

Pete Johnson was also a beast posting 94 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Woody Hayes' favorite formula was on display as Griffin and Cornelius Greene did damage between the 20s then Johnson would be called on near the goal line with two scoring plunges from one-yard out and another from the four. 

Combined, Griffin and Johnson went for 243 rushing yards and four touchdowns as Ohio State overcame a 21-14 third quarter deficit, scoring the game's final 28 points en route to a 42-21 victory. 

So those are the core four I came up with. Where'd I whiff? Or more importantly, will a a Buckeye like Dwayne Haskins go off next Tuesday against Washington, inserting himself into the conversation of all-time Rose Bowl performances? 

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