Our Pac-12 Friday series continues with more B1G analysis, although we may cover some 2020 football eventually, evidently. In the 1970s, only three schools won the conference title, making this list seem very exclusive.
Which three schools? Bet you can guess two of them, for sure, but read on to learn the third one … and witness the Rose Bowl carnage, too.
Honorable Mention: 1971 Michigan Wolverines (11-1)
Okay, this is going to become a recurring pattern: B1G champ is undefeated heading into the Rose Bowl, and it loses. Even at 11-0, these Wolverines were ranked just third in the AP poll, and a 1-point loss to Stanford dropped them to No. 6 in the final poll. Michigan was seventh in the SRS, by the way.
10. 1977 Michigan Wolverines (10-2)
This bunch was No. 1 in October before losing 16-0 on the road to Minnesota. Then the Wolverines recovered to beat No. 4 Ohio State and win the conference, only to turn around and lose the Rose Bowl to the Washington Huskies—our No. 10 team of the decade in those rankings.
9. 1972 Michigan Wolverines (10-1)
At 10-0, these Wolverines were ranked No. 3 in the AP poll before losing to No. 9 Ohio State—and then having to stay home in bowl season. The defense gave up 57 points all year, as the 14 points the Buckeyes scored represented the only time that the Wolverines surrendered double digits on defense.
8. 1978 Michigan Wolverines (10-2)
One of the losses was to B1G co-champion (and tiebreak winner) Michigan State, so kudos to any readers who knew this in advance. The other loss, of course, was in the Rose Bowl to USC. The team beat ranked opponents from both Notre Dame and Ohio State to claim some positives on the year.
7. 1979 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
Ranked No. 1 at 11-0 heading into the Rose Bowl, this Ohio State team lost a heartbreaker to USC by one point. The Buckeyes had beaten Washington State and UCLA earlier in the year, but the Trojans got the best of them when everything was on the line. Sound familiar, B1G fans? It should.
6. 1974 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2)
A tough loss to Michigan State in November knocked the Buckeyes from No. 1 in the polls, but Ohio State mustered some mettle and beat No. 3 Michigan to win the conference. However, USC emerged triumphant in the Rose Bowl by one point (!) to deny the Buckeyes an outside shot at the MNC.
5. 1975 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
Ranked No. 1 with four victories already over ranked teams, Ohio State again went to the Rose Bowl—and lost. This time, it was UCLA serving up disappointment to the B1G champions. Overall, eight opponents failed to reach double digits in scoring against the Buckeyes in 1975.
4. 1970 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1)
In the regular-season finale, the Buckeyes beat No. 4 Michigan to finish 9-0 and win the B1G. Then, ranked No. 2 in the nation, Ohio State lost the Rose Bowl to Stanford. This started off the decade on the wrong foot for the conference, obviously, as this scenario would repeat itself a lot in the 1970s.
3. 1976 Michigan Wolverines (10-2)
This squad topped the SRS rankings for the year, despite the two losses. A two-point loss to Purdue knocked Michigan from the top of the AP poll, and then No. 3 USC beat the No. 2 Wolverines in the Rose Bowl to end all hopes for a mythical championship. Nationally, Michigan finished first in scoring offense and second in scoring defense.
2. 1973 Michigan Wolverines (10-0-1)
This was the famous year when No. 4 Michigan and No. 1 Ohio State tied in the regular-season finale—and the B1G voted the Rose Bowl bid to the Buckeyes (see below). From 1971 to 1974, the Wolverines posted a 41-3-1 record and never won a Rose Bowl or an MNC. Go figure.
1. 1973 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0-1)
Strange how that tie dropped the Buckeyes to No. 4 in the polls, and when Ohio State trounced No. 7 in the Rose Bowl, 42-21, it only got them back to No. 2 in the AP poll. The Buckeyes also finished No. 2 in the SRS, despite allowing only 64 points all season—including just 20 points combined in the first 8 games of the year.