We continue with our newest series on Pac-12 Fridays in examining the league MVPs for the Conference of Champions and its Midwest adversary, the B1G. While the Midwest was certainly dominating the decade of the 1950s, we know the Best Coast gang would soon catch up. We see that in the Rose Bowl results, of course.
But for now, here is 1958 as only we can do it.
1958 PCC MVP: Jack Hart, California
The California Golden Bears won the conference title, followed closely by the Washington State Cougars, showing you just how unique the league was at the time. Two-time defending champion Oregon State was third, with the USC Trojans as the only other team to finish above .500 in conference play. So topsy-turvy!
Two different Cougars QBs combined for 14 touchdown passes, and two Stanford QBs also combined for 1,441 passing yards, demonstrating this dual-QB trend. Again we see a conference dependent on the run game for its success as no individual quarterback threw enough passes to qualify for the national rating crown.
Yet there were no dominant runners, either: Cal QB Joe Kapp topped the league with 582 rushing yards, but he also threw five interceptions to just two TD passes. Meanwhile, his teammate—RB Jack Hart—topped the league in total yards (793) by over 150 yards beyond his closest competitor, WSU RB Chuck Morell.
In fact, Hart finished fourth in rushing (459 yards), fourth in receiving (334 yards), and third in scoring (five TDs), making him the best player in the conference.
1958 B1G MVP: Randy Duncan, Iowa
The Iowa Hawkeyes escaped the Wisconsin Badgers by half a game to win the B1G title, as Ohio State and Purdue were hot in the chase as well. This was a strong conference; in fact, last-place Michigan State beat Cal to open the season, so that’s something to consider.
Hawkeyes QB Randy Duncan was pretty good, throwing for 1,397 yards, 12 TDs, and just 9 INTs. He was a dominant force for the league champs, as three Iowa RBs combined for 1,498 yards on the ground and 14 scores. The crazy thing was these three backs averaged 7.1 yards per carry, thanks to Duncan’s passing prowess. If Iowa had used just one back with those numbers, then we’d have our MVP. But the Hawkeyes did not do so, of course.
Ohio State’s Bob White led the league in rushing, carrying the ball 218 times for 859 yards and 12 TDs. But in the end, it was Duncan who led the conference in total yards (1,462) and TDs (17) by wide margins.
1958 Rose Bowl MVP: Bob Jeter, Iowa (original, confirmed)
The Hawkeyes torched the Bears, 38-12, on January 1 in Pasadena. One of those three Iowa RBs, Bob Jeter, won the MVP Award by rushing for 194 yards (a new record), which included an 81-yard TD run—the longest ever at that point in Rose Bowl history. One of the other Hawkeyes runners, Willie Fleming, scored twice himself, while the third back, Don Horn, notched a touchdown, too.
Duncan ran for the first score of the game and then tossed a TD for the second score, giving Iowa a comfortable 14-0 lead in the second quarter, but the RB trio took over from there. And since Jeter set the records, we’re good with confirming his MVP nod.