Welcome back to Pac-12 Friday, as we take on some awards analysis for both the Conference of Champions and the B1G football season in 1973. We picked our mythical national champion from this group, if you remember, so we won’t spoil anything else as we go forth with our MVP picks for both leagues and the Rose Bowl itself.
1973 Pac-8 MVP: Kermit Johnson, RB, UCLA
The USC Trojans won the conference again with a perfect 7-0 league record, followed by UCLA (6-1), Stanford (5-2), and Washington State (4-3). No other team in the Pac-8 posted more than 2 conference victories. It was perfect symmetry there, as well, for WSU lost to the three teams above it, while the Cardinal lost to the two teams higher in the standings. And, of course, the Bruins only lost to the Trojans.
We see three candidates for MVP, and two of them played for the same team: quarterback Pat Haden (126.2 QB rating, tops in the league) and running back Anthony Davis of USC (1,159 scrimmage yards, 14 TDs). Meanwhile, UCLA RB Kermit Johnson led the conference in rushing yards (1,129), yards per rushing attempt (7.5), and total touchdowns from scrimmage (16).
Throw in the fact that USC also had wide receiver Lynn Swann—who topped the Pac-8 in the Triple Crown categories for receivers—and it’s clear the two Trojans stars had lot of help. Johnson was doing some heavy lifting on his own for UCLA, and the Bruins only lost to USC by 10 points. Kermit is our pick for MVP.
1973 B1G MVP: Archie Griffin, RB, Ohio State
This was the famous season where both Michigan and Ohio State finished 7-0-1 in league play, tying each other, and the conference chose the Buckeyes to go to Pasadena, much to the displeasure of Wolverine fans everywhere. The only other team in the league to finish above .500 in conference play was Minnesota (6-2). So we have a small pool of MVP candidates here, for sure.
In truth, however, one player was quite dominant: Ohio State RB Archie Griffin. He topped the league in rushing yards (1,577) by 370 yards, and he also was the best in total yards from scrimmage (1,609) by 311 yards. He actually only scored 8 times, even though one of his teammates had 14 TDs. But see our Rose Bowl MVP nod from last year.
Considering the Buckeyes had a starting QB (Cornelius Greene) who tossed just 2 TD passes versus 7 interceptions, so it’s clear that Griffin was carrying a tremendous load on Ohio State’s journey to the Rose Bowl bid. That’s good enough for us to award him the conference MVP trophy.
1974 Rose Bowl MVP: Cornelius Greene, QB, Ohio State (original); Archie Griffin (revised)
Ohio State and USC locked horns again in Pasadena, and the game was tied 14-14 at halftime. But then the Buckeyes exploded in the second half to take a 42-21 victory and lay a claim to the MNC. In fact, Ohio State scored the final 28 points of the contest to come from behind and win eternal glory. How did it happen?
Four different Buckeyes scored those final TDs, and only one of them—Griffin’s 47-yard gallop to close the scoring—was from more than 4 yards out of the end zone. Greene was named the MVP, for completing 6-of-8 passes for 129 yards while also running for 45 yards and a score. But he did toss an INT without throwing a TD pass.
It was an odd pick, considering Ohio State fullback Pete Johnson scored 3 TDs, similar to the vote winner from the prior year. And like last season, we’re going to pick someone else … the guy who did all the dirty work: Griffin.
With 22 carries for 149 yards and the one TD, he outdistanced all his teammates by 55 yards. Johnson’s three TD runs totaled 6 yards, for example, so while Griffin was doing the hard yardage, his teammates cleaned up at the goal line.