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NCAAF – 1986 – Rose Bowl Iowa Vs UCLA PreGame Show – With Dick Enberg + Merlin Olsen + Bob Costas

The 1986 Rose Bowl matched the winners of the Big Ten Conference and the Pacific-10 Conference. Each conference had tie-breaker rules in place should there be conference co-champions.

After much consideration, Chuck Long delighted Iowa Hawkeye fans by declaring that he would return for his senior season. He became an instant Heisman Trophy candidate….and Iowa was a pre-season top five team. After three weeks in 1985, the Hawkeyes ascended to # 1 in the national rankings.

In Iowa’s first game at # 1, the Hawkeyes played Michigan State….which was a seesaw game that had Michigan State leading, 31–28, in the waning minutes….as Long drove Iowa the length of the field….and had the Hawkeyes facing fourth and goal from the two-yard line with just 27 seconds remaining. Since there was no overtime rule, Iowa needed to go for the touchdown and the win….so, Chuck Long faked a handoff to running back Ronnie Harmon and then ran to his right. His fake had fooled the Spartan defenders, and Long ran in for a touchdown…..while holding the ball high above his head as he crossed the goal line to give Iowa a 35–31 victory. He completed a school record 30 passes on 39 attempts for 380 yards and scored five touchdowns (four passing and the game winning score rushing) in the game.

Two weeks later, # 1 Iowa faced # 2 Michigan at Kinnick Stadium….when Iowa trailed 10 – 9 as the Hawkeyes regained possession of the football at their own 22-yard line with just 5:27 remaining in the game…..and that is when Long led Iowa on a 66-yard drive against the nation’s top-ranked defense….while twice converting third-and-eight situations by completing passes to tight end Mike Flagg.  Long drove the Iowa team to the 12-yard line with two seconds remaining to set up kicker Rob Houghtlin’s game-winning field goal as time expired. Chuck Long completed 26 of 39 passes for 297 yards in Iowa’s 12 – 10 win.

A loss to Ohio State cost Iowa their # 1 ranking….but they still won the Big Ten title outright for the first time in 27 years.  Chuck Long won many major national awards as a senior, including the 1985 Maxwell Award….which is given to the nation’s top player….and the Davey O’Brien Award….which is given to the nation’s top quarterback.  He was the Big Ten Player of the Year and a consensus first team All-American. Finally, Chuck Long was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy to Bo Jackson of Auburn in what used to be the closest margin in Heisman history, losing by just 45 points.….so, Iowa came into the Rose Bowl game with a record of 10–1.

Whereas their Rose Bowl opponent was UCLA…..who defeated defending national champion BYU in Provo, 27 – 24 to start the season….then they tied eventual SEC and Sugar Bowl champion Tennessee. The Bruins opened the Pac-10 season by losing at Washington by a score of 21 – 14. They would later get two key wins….with the first against Arizona State…..and the second at Arizona.  For much of the season, the rushing defense was ranked # 2 in the nation, behind Oklahoma’s.  They won the rest of their games leading to the 1985 USC vs UCLA game.

Needing a win against 4–5 USC, UCLA struggled…..as running backs Gaston Green and Mell Farr Jr had fumbles in the game…..and with UCLA leading in the fourth quarter 13 – 10….that is when RB Eric Ball fumbled at the USC 1 yard line….as he was about to score what would have been the clinching touchdown….then USC freshman QB Rodney Peete led USC on a drive….while converting a key fourth down along the way….then in the last two minutes, USC again faced a fourth down….and this time at UCLA’s 2-yard line….when USC scored to take a 17 – 13 lead….then intercepted UCLA quarterback David Norrie as he tried to lead a Bruin comeback.

UCLA’s loss opened the door for Washington to grab the Rose Bowl berth….but they were upset by Washington State the same day by a score of 21 – 20.  Washington lost the advantage due to the loss in the Oregon State vs. Washington football game….as this put Arizona State in position to win the conference….as they entered their game with Arizona with only one conference loss (40–17 to UCLA). But later that evening, Arizona defeated Arizona State 16 – 13 to cause a tie between UCLA, Arizona State, and Arizona….and UCLA won the tiebreaker and the Rose Bowl berth by virtue of its wins over Arizona and Arizona State.

UCLA came into the 1986 Rose Bowl game with a record of 8–2–1….as Coach Terry Donahue was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year…..while five Bruin players were first team All Pac-10….including defensive tackle Mark Walen, offensive tackle Mike Hartmeier, kicker John Lee, nose guard Terry Tumey and inside linebacker Tommy Taylor….as Walen was named Pac-10 defensive player of the year.  UCLA finished ranked # 1 in the nation in rushing defense at 70.3 yards per game. 

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