We have hit the 1981 season on this Pac-12 Friday miniseries. There’s not a lot of national noise for the Conference of Champions or the B1G in this season, but that doesn’t matter. We still have the Granddaddy of Them All, and that’s better than anything else out there.
Enjoy the ride through a season that happened 40 years ago!
1981 Pac-10 MVP: Marcus Allen, RB, USC (original, confirmed)
Five teams finished within a game of each other in the conference, and in the end, maybe it was uneven scheduling that gave the Washington Huskies (6-2 record against the Pac-10) the league title over Arizona State (5-2) and USC (5-2), not to mention Washington State (5-2-1) and UCLA (5-2-1). What a mess! The Huskies lost to the Bruins and the Sun Devils by a combined 57-7 score, by the way. Wha—?!
The MVP pick is easy, though: Trojans RB Marcus Allen won the vote at the time, based on 2,427 rushing yards and 2,683 scrimmage yards. He added 23 touchdowns to the argument as well on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. USC was ranked as high as No. 3 in the country before finishing 14th in the AP poll after a Fiesta Bowl to Penn State.
We will confirm the award, a second consecutive nod from us, because his dominance is pretty clear.
1981 B1G MVP: Tony Eason, QB, Illinois
This is the final year the B1G did not award an MVP trophy, so we’re on our own one last time. Iowa and Ohio State tied atop the standings with 6-2 conference records, and the two schools did not face each other. Three teams finished a half game back at 6-3 each: Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. This is a wide-open MVP conversation then, right?
To us, this comes down to Illinois quarterback Tony Eason and Michigan RB Butch Woolfolk, the Rose Bowl MVP from a year ago. Eason led the B1G in almost every meaningful passing category, while Woolfolk led everyone in rushing and scrimmage yards. However, the Wolverines star played with a QB who had a hand in 27 touchdowns himself, while Eason’s best weapon gained just 767 scrimmage yards.
So, we give this award to Eason for carrying the Fightin’ Illini to a third-place finish based on 3,360 passing yards, 20 TDs, and a 140.0 efficiency rating. He also topped the conference in passing attempts, completions, completion percentage, and adjusted yards per attempt.
1982 Rose Bowl MVP: Jacque Robinson, RB, Washington (original, confirmed)
So, we have a Rose Bowl without a league MVP in it, as the Huskies down the Hawkeyes, 28-0. Iowa got the Rose Bowl, its first since the 1950s, because Ohio State had gone more recently (1979). But it was all Washington in Pasadena, as Huskies RB Jacque Robinson won the MVP Award at the time for his 142 yards rushing and 2 TDs. Is there anyone else to consider?
With the Washington QB throwing for just 142 yards with an interception, no one else deserved this award for the Huskies offense. The Hawkeyes did commit 5 turnovers, but with the lack of defensive statistics for the game, Robinson gets to keep his award.