Anthony Muñoz’s return sparked USC’s 1980 Rose Bowl victory over Ohio State
By Joey Kaufman
DALLAS — The newspapers didn’t even use couched language.
Anthony Muñoz, USC’s prized offensive tackle, had torn ligaments in his left knee in the 1979 season opener at Texas Tech, another setback requiring surgery.
“He’ll be out for the season,” reported the San Bernardino Sun, his hometown paper, a day after the procedure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Not likely, or probably, or possibly. It was over.
“Everyone had pretty much written me off,” Muñoz said this month, “but in my crazy mind and heart.”
The next 112 days commenced his fabled story.
Muñoz returned for the 1980 Rose Bowl as the spark in the Trojans’ dramatic 17-16 victory over Ohio State.
“Anthony, to me, was the miracle man,” said Brad Budde, then a senior offensive tackle and former roommate.
The Cotton Bowl on Friday unfolds a traditional Pac-12-Big Ten pairing with the Trojans and Buckeyes, harkening to a period of the 20th Century when the teams often met in the postseason. Between 1969 and 1985, they met for six Rose Bowl clashes. As in 1980, USC often prevailed in Pasadena, winning on four of the occasions.
Muñoz’s unlikely triumph stood as one the program’s proudest bowl feats, coming in a game that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said first came to mind when he thought of the schools’ previous bowl matchups.
Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Charles White ran for a Rose Bowl-record 247 yards, including the winning score with 1:32 left, but Muñoz’s presence was also paramount on a final drive that covered 83 yards on eight plays against a worn-out defense.
“John Robinson stuck with what brought him to the dance,” Budde said of the Trojans’ coach. “He knew that we would physically wear people out in the fourth quarter. It’s not rocket science.
“We kept pounding it,” Muñoz said.
White had six carries on the final drive and often […]