Welcome back to Pac-12 Friday, as we move to the 1974 college football season, and for the third season in a row, our mythical national champion pick came from our beloved conference pairing of the Pac-8 and the B1G. Chalk another one up for the Conference of Champions … ooops, spoiler alert!
So, on with the show …
1974 Pac-8 MVP: Anthony Davis, RB, USC
The USC Trojans posted a 6-0-1 record to top the league, followed by Stanford (5-1-1) and California (4-2-1). Theoretically, an MVP candidate could come from those three teams, and USC’s tie did come against the Golden Bears and their star quarterback, Steve Bartkowski. He was the best QB in the league, leading his peers in almost every meaningful statistical category for passers.
However, USC running back Anthony Davis was even more dominant, outrunning his nearest competitor by 630 rushing yards. That is not a typo. He posted 1,421 rushing yards, while Cal’s Chuck Muncie ran for just 791 yards. Likewise, Davis was the best in the conference for both scrimmage yards (1,517) and scrimmage TDs (15) by significant margins.
Without him, the Trojans do not achieve the heights they did, period. This is the second time we’ve given this award to Davis, too, for the record. He also did not win the Heisman Trophy, and you’ll see why below.
1974 B1G MVP: Archie Griffin, RB, Ohio State
Michigan and Ohio State tied for the league lead with 7-1 conference records, but the Buckeyes’ 12-10 win over the Wolverines was the tiebreak and sent Ohio State to the Rose Bowl again. Only one player really stands out here, too, so he is the obvious choice for this award.
Ohio State RB Archie Griffin, our double winner from last season, repeats as the conference MVP here for leading the B1G with 1,695 rushing yards and 1,772 total yards from scrimmage. He also added 12 TDs, which was second in the league.
The Wolverines’ only league leader was receiver Jim Smith, who posted am 18.7-yard per-catch average, although he only caught 21 passes all season. So, it’s very straightforward here to give Griffin the MVP.
1975 Rose Bowl MVP: Pat Haden, QB, USC and John McKay, Jr., WR, USC (original), McKay (revised)
Davis was injured early in the game for the Trojans and played less than a quarter, and so entering the final 15 minutes of the Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes held a 7-3 lead. Davis still added 67 yards to USC’s team total of 280 rushing yards, though, as Ohio State was held to just 286 total yards.
However, the Trojans still found themselves trailing 17-10 late, and USC QB Pat Haden—who committed three turnovers on the day, thus eliminating him from MVP consideration—led the Trojans to the game-winning TD/two-point conversion for an 18-17 victory and the UPI crown.
WR John McKay, Jr., the other vote winner, had 5 receptions for 104 yards and the final touchdown. So we will give the award to him alone. As the coach’s son, he sure earned his stripes in this win. By the way, Griffin had just 75 yards on 20 carries in this game, so maybe the USC defense also deserved some love here, but we have no defensive statistics to gauge that.