With 5:21 to play in the Rose Bowl and only the national championship at stake, the Heisman Trophy came trotting out onto the field. Charles White and his USC teammates were trailing Ohio State 16-10, 83 yards from a touchdown, white, who had run well all day despite having the flu, was just going to have to carry the load. And he did. He rushed six times for 71 yards, finally hurtling over from the one with 1:32 left, "we all ought to sit down and say that was one of the great football games," said USC Coach John Robinson. The folks in Alabama couldn't have agreed more. Because the Rose Bowl was so close, AP and UPI voters decided to give the top spot to the Crimson Tide.
USC's Charles White flops over from the one for the TD that beat Ohio State 17-16 in the Rose Bowl.
LSU Coach Charlie McClendon was fired.
Oklahoma Quarterback Julius Caesar Watts demanded tribute after conquering Nebraska 20-17.
Michigan's Stan Edwards got caught in the Notre Dame defense's squeeze play.
Schlichter's a good bet for the '80 Heisman.
Hosea Taylor blocked Arkansas' try at a tie.
Clawed constantly by the Louisiana State defense, White still gained 185 yards to help USC escape from Tiger Stadium with a 17-12 victory.
Watts pitches to Billy Sims for the 34-yard touchdown play that capped the Sooners' 24-7 Orange Bowl win.
Sub Terry Elston was the Cotton Bowl hero.
Steve Whitman's running helped Alabama to a 24-9 Sugar Bowl triumph-and the national title.
This Ohio State cheerleader showed some cheek at the Michigan game.
IT WAS A RED-LETTER DAY
This information comes too late to help those of you who blamed it on the night before, but the reason you kept seeing red on New Year's Day is that all eight teams in the big bowls were dressed in that color. To be more specific, three wore scarlet, two crimson, two cardinal, and one garnet. Needless to say, half of them were blue by the end of the day. Saddest of all was previously unbeaten Ohio State, which could have locked up the No. 1 spot by winning the Rose Bowl. These were not the Buckeyes of yore. Cone were woody Hayes and his cloud-of-dust offense, on came the more congenial Earle Bruce and his sophomore passer Art Schlichter. Their opponent, USC, was thought by many to be the nation's best team, though a tie with Stanford smudged its record. The Trojans had a terrific quarterback, too, in Paul McDonald, and the nation's leading ground-gainer in Charles White. True to form, Schlichter passed for 289 yards and White ran for a Rose-record 247, but in the end it came down to this: Ohio State didn't score from the one, and USC did.
A few hours earlier, Alabama had staked its claim to the national title in the Sugar Bowl. The Tide had been chided all season for having a soft schedule, but 10-1 Arkansas offered Bear Bryant's team the opportunity to prove it could beat a good club. The Tide was up to the task, winning 24-9 to give Bryant his first undisputed national championship since 1964. Houston had been living dangerously all season—it beat Arkansas 13-10 only because Tackle Hosea Taylor used his head to block a field goal by Ismael (Call Me Ish) Ordonez with four seconds to play. The Cotton Bowl was no less exciting as Houston's backup quarterback, Terry Elston, hit Eric Herring with a tipped, six-yard TD pass with 12 seconds left to beat Nebraska 17-14. In the Orange Bowl, Oklahoma ended Florida State's impossible dream of getting named No. 1, 24-7. Wake Forest and Arizona State both turned their fortunes around: the Deacons went from one win to eight and a bowl bid, and ASU forfeited all of its victories as the result of a grading scandal after dismissing Coach Frank Kush for trying to cover up the fact that he hit a player.