In an amusing twist for sports-trivia peeps, the iconic era of Pacific-12 Conference football started when the league was officially called the Athletic Association of Western Universities. The 1960s would see the conference expand from five teams to eight and adopt the Pacific-8 name by the time the next decade arrived.
Honorable Mention: 1960 Washington Huskies (10-1)
The conference kicked off the decade with a Rose Bowl win for this Huskies team, which finished the regular season with a 9-1 record and a No. 4 ranking—before winning the Rose Bowl over No. 1-ranked Minnesota and finishing No. 6 in the final polls. Yes, go figure: We will have a field day with when it comes time on MNC Wednesdays!
10. 1968 USC Trojans (9-1-1)
This team had a tailback named O.J. Simpson and a backup quarterback named Mike Holmgren. You may have heard of them. But the Trojans faltered at the end after a 9-0 start to the season as the defending Associated Press champions, tying No. 9 Notre Dame and losing the Rose Bowl to No. 1 Ohio State.
9. 1962 Washington Huskies (7-1-2)
This UW squad had the misfortune of being good in the same year as one of the best conference teams of all time (see below). The Huskies were ranked No. 9 when they traveled to L.A. to take on USC, losing 14-0. Despite winning its final three games by a combined 83-21 score, Washington could not regain a national ranking. Go figure.
8. 1964 USC Trojans (7-3)
It may not seem like much on the surface, but this team was special. The Trojans beat No. 2-ranked Oklahoma on the road before traveling to Michigan State and losing to the Spartans. Then USC also traveled to the new No. 2 team, Ohio State, and lost as well. The Trojans redeemed themselves at the end of the season by beating No. 1 Notre Dame.
7. 1969 Stanford Indians (7-2-1)
Any other year, this team—led by QB Jim Plunkett—would have been Rose Bowl bound, but it was a strong year for the Pac-8 (see below). Stanford lost back-to-back games on the road to No. 8 Purdue by a point and to No. 4 USC by two points. Two weeks after that, the Indians tied No. 6 UCLA at home. Every other game was a Stanford victory, of course.
6. 1967 USC Trojans (10-1)
For a team that finished No. 1 in the country, you’d think this Simpson-led squad would rank higher. But that was the strength of the conference during the 1960s. The Trojans beat three ranked teams and won the Rose Bowl over Indiana, but a strange 3-0 loss at Oregon State keeps this USC team “low” in our rankings here today.
5. 1965 USC Trojans (7-2-1)
A 20-16 loss to UCLA kept the Trojans from greater glory, but it was a stellar season nonetheless for this team of Troy. The defense held six opponents to six points or less, and only losses to the Bruins and the Fighting Irish held back USC in 1965. The team finished No. 10 in the Associated Press poll nonetheless.
4. 1969 UCLA Bruins (9-1-1)
Remember that Stanford team above? Well, this Bruins team lost to USC by two points to end its season, and with that tie to the Indians, UCLA was this close, as well, to something very special in 1969. The Bruins finished 13th nationally in scoring offense and 6th in scoring defense. Of course, there were no bowl consolation prizes back then.
3. 1965 UCLA Bruins (8-2-1)
UCLA had multiple 1950s seasons ruined by Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. This was the Bruins’ revenge. Ironically, UCLA opened the season with a road loss to the Spartans before tying Missouri on the road and losing to Tennessee on the road. This team played seven road games before winning the Rose Bowl over MSU to earn some cosmic payback.
2. 1969 USC Trojans (10-0-1)
This squad finished No. 3 in the country, with its only blemish being a road tie at No. 11 Notre Dame in October. The defense held six opponents to single-digit scoring, and USC beat three ranked teams—and Nebraska on the road as well—on its way to winning the Rose Bowl again. Stay tuned for the MNC Wednesday entry on this season!
1. 1962 USC Trojans (11-0)
Eight opponents failed to score more than 7 points against this fearsome defense, as USC gave up just 13 points combined in five home games. Overall, the defense pitched three shutouts: against Iowa on the road, at home against No. 14 Washington, and at home against mighty Notre Dame. The Trojans won the Rose Bowl over No. 2 Wisconsin, too.