Stanford to Honor 1969 and 1999 Teams at Halftime on Saturday
Nov. 6, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - As part of its annual Legend's Reunion weekend, Stanford will pay tribute to the 1969 and 1999 teams at halftime of Saturday's game against Oregon. In all, over 150 former player and coaches are expected to return to The Farm for the day's activities.
The 1969 Stanford team, led by a high-powered offense and one of the top defenses on the West Coast, finished the year with a 7-2-1 record and was ranked 19th nationally in the final Associated Press poll.
Stanford's final record perhaps belies the team's place in history, considering three plays stood in the way of the Indians and a perfect season.
After winning its first two games against San Jose State and Oregon, Stanford traveled to West Lafayette, Ind. for an early season showdown with 8th-ranked Purdue. The game showcased two of the nation's top quarterbacks in Stanford's Jim Plunkett and Boilermaker Mike Phipps.
Stanford took a 35-21 lead into the final period, but Phipps rallied the Boilers back with two fourth quarter scoring drives. He completed all 12 of his passes in the final drive, including a touchdown pass with 3:03 remaining that cut the Stanford lead to 35-34. Purdue converted the two-point conversion on another Phipps pass that proved to be the game-winner.
The Indians remained on the road the next weekend to face long time nemesis USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The fourth-ranked Trojans had defeated Stanford 11 years in a row, but that streak looked like it was going to come to an end when Plunkett completed a 67-yard pass to Randy Vataha that set up a 37-yard field goal by Steve Horowitz that gave Stanford a 24-23 lead with 1:03 left.
However, the Trojans, behind quarterback Jimmy Jones, would drive 68 yards to set up a game-winning field goal by Ron Ayala as time expired to stun Stanford. 26-24.
After pasting Washington State, 49-0, following the USC heartbreaker, the sixth-ranked UCLA Bruins brought their perfect 6-0 record to Stanford Stadium on October 25. Stanford built a 17-6 lead at halftime, only to see the Bruins rally and take a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Stanford tied the game, 20-20, on a 27-yard field goal by Horowitz with 10:15 remaining and seemed poised to win the game when Horowitz lined up for a 27-yard try with just :04 left, but the kick was blocked by UCLA's Vince Bishof, a native of nearby Mountain View, and the game ended in a tie.
Stanford would win its last four games, including a nailbiting, 29-28 Big Game win over Cal.
However, only the Pac-8 champion earned a bowl berth in 1969. Unfortunately for Stanford, three points and a blocked field goal stood in the way of a trip to Pasadena but laid the groundwork for future Rose Bowl successes the next two seasons.
Nine members of the 1969 team have been inducted in the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame, while John Ralston and Plunkett would later join the College Football Hall of Fame.
With Plunkett, Vataha, Bubba Brown and Jack Lasater leading the high-powered Stanford offense, the Indians posted three shutouts in 1969 and featured one of the best run defenses in the country, with Pete Lazetich, Dave Tipton, Bill McClure, Bill Alexander and Jeff Siemon anchoring the front line.
Linebacker Don Parish earned first team All-America honors and was the recipient of the Pop Warner Award, given to the top senior player on the West Coast. Rich Keller, Jack Schultz and Jim Kauffmann provided steady play in the secondary.
It might be worth looking up, but safe to say no team besides the 1999 Stanford squad under Tyrone Willingham has suffered a 52-point loss in its season opener and went on to win the Pac-10 Conference championship and earn a spot in the Rose Bowl.
After dropping a 69-17 decision at Texas in the season opener, the high-scoring Cardinal won five of its next six games, including wins over 19th-ranked Arizona and 18th-ranked UCLA on consecutive weekends.
Following a 35-30 setback at Washington, Stanford clinched the Pac-10 championship by winning its final two games against Arizona State and Cal, and tacked on another victory over Notre Dame in the season finale.
Stanford made its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1972 only to lose to fourth-ranked Wisconsin and Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, 17-9.
Quarterback Todd Husak became the first Stanford quarterback since John Elway in 1982 to earn first team All-Pac-10 honors, passing for nearly 2,700 yards and 18 touchdowns. Husak paced an offense that scored 50 or more points on three occasions during the course of the season.
Husak's favorite target, Troy Walters, was named the recipient of Biletnikoff Award, which honors the top receiver in college football. The first team All-American was also selected as the Pac-10's Offensive Player of the Year.
Anchoring the offensive line were all-conference selections Mike McLaughlin, Jeff Cronshagen and Eric Heitmann. Other key contributors on offense were DeRonnie Pitts, running backs Casey Moore, Coy Wire, Brian Allen and Kerry Carter.
The opportunistic Stanford defense, led by Morris Trophy winner Willie Howard and all-conference standouts Riall Johnson, Tim Smith, Drew Currie, Mark Stockbauer and Ruben Carter, was among the conference leaders in turnovers and sacks.
Willingham was named the Pac-10's Coach of the Year and was a finalist for national coach of the year honors.
While the 1999 team will be lauded at halftime tomorrow for winning a Pac-10 championship and earning a spot in the Rose Bowl, the 1969 team will finally be honored for what it was--one of the finest teams in Stanford history that has been largely forgotten over the years.
For if it wasn't for Mike Phipps, Ron Ayala and Vince Bishof, the 1969 Indians could have run the table in 1969 and entered the national championship picture.