The first season of the 1970s on this Pac-12 Friday miniseries brings us to a fun year, for sure. The B1G actually had a losing record overall, although Ohio State was competing for a mythical national championship once again. Alas, we don’t want to spoil anything, so …
On with the show, folks!
1970 Pac-8 MVP: Jim Plunkett, Stanford
Stanford won the conference with a 6-1 league mark, two games clear of a four-way logjam at 4-3 for second place. Indians quarterback Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy, somehow, despite throwing just as many interceptions (19) as touchdowns. That doesn’t impress us at all, of course.
He also didn’t even lead the conference in QB efficiency (125.5); that honor went to our pick for Rose Bowl MVP last year, USC QB Jim Jones (128.9). Can we give Plunkett the league MVP nod? He had three players in supporting positions who totaled almost 3,000 yards from scrimmage, but none of the trio were dominant at all.
But with Stanford topping the conference so easily, we have to recognize that Plunkett did lead his peers in total yards (3,189) by more than 850 yards overall. That’s impressive, even with the high INT total. So, based on sheer volume, we will give Plunkett the nod here, although we’d have never given him the Heisman Trophy—that’s a discussion for a future miniseries here on Pac-12 Fridays!
1970 B1G MVP: Mike Adamle, Northwestern
The Buckeyes topped the league with a perfect 7-0 conference record, one game better than Michigan and Northwestern. Ohio State beat both teams at home by double digits, so we should look to the Buckeyes for our league MVP pick, right? Not so fast …
Wildcats fullback Mike Adamle topped the B1G in both rushing (1,255) and scrimmage yards (1,389), ahead of Ohio State running back John Brockington, who led the league in total TDs (17). Adamle only scored 10 times, so that’s a big gap there. We can put that down to team quality, as Northwestern went 0-3 outside of conference play.
We like the fact Adamle carried an otherwise mediocre team to a close finish in the B1G, so we’re going to give him our MVP nod here, as his play was huge in determining the overall league standings. Adamle also extended his yardage edge over Brockington through the passing game, making him slightly more versatile as well.
1971 Rose Bowl MVP: Jim Plunkett, Stanford (original, confirmed)
Brockington scored two first-half TDs to give Ohio State the lead in the Rose Bowl, but the Buckeyes couldn’t find the end zone in the second half, and Stanford scored two TDs in the fourth quarter to come from behind and win, 27-17. Plunkett was named the MVP, for completing 20 passes in 30 attempts for 265 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. The Indians couldn’t run the ball at all, fumbling twice, while the Buckeyes piled up 364 rushing yards.
Stanford RB Jackie Brown did rush for two TDs himself, but it was the Stanford defense that helped provide the fourth-quarter scores for the team—first stopping Brockington on a fourth-down conversion deep in Stanford territory and then intercepting a pass early in the next Ohio State possession.
We will confirm Plunkett’s nod here, for the simple fact he led a long scoring drive to help the Indians take the lead in the fourth quarter, and then he did toss the clinching TD pass as well on the subsequent possession. He was the best QB that Ohio State had played all season, and the Buckeyes defense didn’t have a real answer for him.