As we start moving through the 1970s on Pac-12 Friday, we really start getting into an era of dominance for the Conference of Champions. Over an 18-season stretch from 1970 to 1987, the B1G lost the Granddaddy of Them All 16 times—including six defeats in a row, twice.
With that being said, here we go on another adventure through the college football past!
1971 Pac-8 MVP: Bobby Moore, Oregon
Stanford won its second consecutive league title with a 6-1 league mark, which was a full two games better than California and Washington, the second-place squads. In fact, the Indians were 8 points overall from a perfect season, which is quite impressive. Regardless, Stanford really doesn’t provide us with any MVP candidates, as the team QB tossed more interceptions than touchdowns, and the team had a trio of skills players splitting time.
In reality, the best player in the conference was Oregon Ducks running back Bobby Moore, who led the league in rushing yards (1,211) total yards from scrimmage (1,535), while scoring 10 times as well. Yet the Ducks only finished 2-4 in conference, even with someone named Dan Fouts at quarterback. Oregon’s defense was atrocious.
The only real MVP candidate otherwise was Huskies RB Tom Scott, who finished a distant third in total scrimmage yards (1,041). He did so playing with a QB who tossed 18 INTs and just 13 TDs (the infamous Sonny Sixkiller). So, under this unique circumstance, the future Ahmad Rashād gets our nod here for the league MVP. Oh well!
1971 B1G MVP: Eric Allen, Michigan State
The Michigan Wolverines went a perfect 8-0 in conference games to finish far ahead of the Northwestern Wildcats (6-3) and three other schools (5-3). Yet not a single major statistical category in the B1G was topped by a Wolverines player. No QB qualified for the passer-rating category, and the best position player (RB Billy Taylor) finished almost 500 yards behind the league leader in total scrimmage yards.
One of those 5-3 teams, Michigan State, gives us the best player in the conference: RB Eric Allen, who led the league in rushing yards (1,494), yards per rushing attempt (5.8), total scrimmage yards (1,769), and total TDs from scrimmage (18). Allen was the primary reason that the Spartans were the only team among the first 9 that Michigan played to score in double digits.
On October 30, 1971, Allen set an NCAA single-game record with 350 rushing yards on 29 carries in a 43-10 win over Purdue. That’s a good-enough reason for us to pick him here, as the Spartans never would have finished with a winning record on the season overall.
1972 Rose Bowl MVP: Don Bunce, Stanford (original, confirmed)
Despite being 11-0, the Wolverines were ranked just fourth in a tough year for the MNC. The game was a slugfest, with a 3-3 tie score as the fourth quarter began. Some shenanigans and tomfoolery ensued, and after a controversial call gave Michigan a safety (mark 2:22:22), the Wolverines were up 12-10 late with the ball around midfield. However, the Indians defense held, and Stanford QB Don Bunce marched the team down the field to win.
For his efforts, he was named the game MVP at the time. He completed 24 of 44 passes for 290 yards with no INTs, although he didn’t toss a TD pass, either. But the clutch drive at the end, combined with those stats, against the No. 1 scoring defense in the country—Michigan gave up only 6.9 points per game on the season—was enough to snare the hardware.
And we agree with it, in truth. Watch the game film link above, and you see a QB calmly taking his team right down the field for the winning score with less than 20 seconds left in the game against perhaps the best defense in the country. That’s an impressive performance.
(For the record, this was the last football game Stanford played with the name “Indians” as the school changed its mascot/nickname for the 1972 season.)