On Saturday, April 18, the ASU rugby team will be hoping the results will be different than they were 18 years ago for its football team.
At 3 p.m., ASU Rugby will seek to exact revenge against Ohio State Rugby at the 2nd Annual Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale Rugby Bowl: Beauty & The Beast — for a football loss the Sun Devils suffered at the hands of the Buckeyes in the 1997 Rose Bowl with a national championship on the line.
The game will be played at Scottsdale Stadium in downtown Scottsdale.
Ohio State fans remember Jan. 1, 1997 as day of victory and school pride, while Arizona State fans remember the day as one of the most heartbreaking in the history of the university’s athletics. On that day, one of the most dramatic finishes to a college football bowl game unfolded on the gridiron at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
The undefeated Arizona State Sun Devils football team, coming off an 11-0 season and ranked No. 2 in the AP College Poll, entered the game brimming with confidence.
Led by senior quarterback and Heisman Award finalist Jake “The Snake” Plummer, the Sun Devils sought the university’s first football national championship.
The season’s results justified the team’s expectations for the 1997 Rose Bowl. On its way to an undefeated season, the Sun Devils had even held the 1996 College Football National Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers scoreless in a 19-0 victory.
OSU also had high expectations for the 1997 Rose Bowl. The team finished the season with a 10-1 record and was ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll. OSU Football head coach John Cooper was also no stranger to the Sun Devil athletics program. Cooper had led the Sun Devils from 1985 to 1987.
Additionally, the Buckeyes quarterback Joe Germaine was a Mesa native who had even spent one year at Scottsdale Community College before transferring to Ohio State.
The game was a back-and-forth affair. As time wound down in the fourth quarter, Plummer scrambled for an 11-yard touchdown run to put the Sun Devils in the lead with 1:40 left in the game.
After starting at their own 35-yard line, Germaine led OSU to one of the most unforgettable game-winning drives in college football history. With 19 seconds left in the game, Germaine threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Boston. Ultimately, the Buckeyes triumphed over ASU, 20-17.
“We want to get payback for our football team, which lost the 1997 Rose Bowl to Ohio State in a heartbreaking fashion. That loss motivates us to achieve more,” said ASU Coach Gary Lane.
On the other hand, Ohio Coach Tom Rooney wants to keep up the Buckeyes’ success against the Sun Devils. “The word is getting out among OSU alumni living in Arizona about the Rugby Bowl, and we know they’re coming to this unique event. Both alumni and the team want to recreate the 1997 Rose Bowl’s result.”
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