On Tuesday, October 22, 1985, the Rose Queen selection ceremony took place at Tournament House in Pasadena when 17-year-old Aimee Lynn Richelieu, a senior at San Marino High School and a resident of San Marino, California, was named the 68th Rose Queen to reign over the 97th Rose Parade and the 72nd Rose Bowl Game. On Thursday, October 24, the Coronation takes at the Wrigley Mansion when the 1985–86 Tournament of Roses President Frederick D. Johnson, Jr., places the Queen's Crown on Miss Richelieu's head and a dozen of roses lays around her arms to officially start her year-long reign.
The game was presiding over by the 1986 Tournament of Roses Royal Court and Rose Parade Grand Marshal Erma Bombeck. Members of the court are: Princesses Shannon Guernsey, Altadena; Christine Huff, Altadena; April Lake, Arcadia; Tracey Langford, Pasadena; Julene Penner, Pasadena; and Loreen Weeks, Sierra Madre.See also 1985 NCAA Division I-A football season
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.
Iowa spent a number of weeks ranked number one. On October 19, 1985, they defeated the #2 Michigan Wolverines 12–10 in the thirteenth regular season matchup between a #1 and #2 team. Mike Haight, Chuck Long, and Ronnie Harmon were the stars for the Hawkeyes. They eventually lost one game on November 2, 1985, to Ohio State 13–22. Iowa came into the game with a record of 10–1.
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. A seesaw game had Michigan State leading, 31–28, in the waning minutes. Long drove Iowa the length of the field, and the Hawkeyes faced 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. 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 into the endzone, 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 in Kinnick Stadium. 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. Long led Iowa on a 66-yard drive against the nation's top ranked defense, 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 the Hawkeyes 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, given to the nation's top player and the Davey O'Brien Award, 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.
UCLA defeated defending national champion BYU in Provo, 27–24 to start the season. They tied eventual SEC and Sugar Bowl champion Tennessee. The Bruins opened the Pac-10 season by losing at Washington, 21–14. They would later get two key wins, the first against Arizona State, 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. Gaston Green and Mell Farr Jr had fumbles in the game. UCLA was leading in the fourth quarter 13–10 when Eric Ball fumbled at the USC 1 as he was about to score what would have been the clinching touchdown. Freshman quarterback Rodney Peete led USC on a drive, converting a key fourth down along the way. In the last two minutes, USC again faced a fourth down, this time at UCLA's 2-yard line. 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, 21–20. Washington lost the advantage due to the loss in the 1985 Oregon State vs. Washington football game. 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. 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. Coach Terry Donahue was named Pac-10 Coach of the year. Five Bruin players were first team All Pac-10: defensive tackle Mark Walen, offensive tackle Mike Hartmeier, kicker John Lee, nose guard Terry Tumey and inside linebacker Tommy Taylor. 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. Oklahoma was second with 89.9 yards per game.
The weather was overcast and 71 degrees. The UCLA Bruins wore white visitor jerseys, and the Iowa Hawkeyes wore their black home jerseys. Both teams wore Rose Bowl patches on their uniforms. The Iowa Hawkeye helmets bore a sticker with the letters "ANF" for "America Needs Farmers". Coach Hayden Fry had the players wear these stickers to bring attention the plight of American farmers.Humorist Erma Bombeck was the grand marshal for the 97th Tournament of Roses Parade held on January 1, 1986. The parade theme was "A Celebration of Laughter."
Tournament of Roses President Lathrop K. "Lay" Leishman presided over the coin toss. Iowa won the toss and deferred to UCLA.
Hayden Fry was tied with Forest Evashevski in all-time wins as an Iowa head coach coming into the 1986 Rose Bowl.
Iowa recovered a fumble at the UCLA 5 from a bad snap of a UCLA punt on the first series of downs. In the first play from scrimmage, Iowa quarterback Chuck Long gave the ball to Ronnie Harmon, who fumbled the ball and UCLA recovered.
Iowa running back Ronnie Harmon fumbled the ball a total of four times, and later dropped a pass while wide open in the end zone as Iowa attempted a late comeback. He had only fumbled one time in the regular season.
Chuck Long was sacked four times. A loophole with the redshirting rule allowed Long to play in his fifth bowl game. He is believed to be the only collegiate player to participate in five bowl games.
Iowa placekicker Rob Houghtlin tied a Rose Bowl field goal distance record with a 52 yard kick in the fourth quarter. This tied a record set by Ohio State kicker Rich Spangler the previous year in the 1985 Rose Bowl.
Eric Ball, a freshman tailback for UCLA, ran for 227 yards and tied a modern Rose Bowl record by scoring four rushing touchdowns. Sam Cunningham ran for four touchdowns in the 1973 Rose Bowl. Eric was in for the injured Gaston Green, who had started, but pulled a hamstring. This record has been tied by Ron Dayne in the 1999 Rose Bowl and Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl. In the 1902 Rose Bowl, Neil Snow of Michigan had scored five rushing touchdowns.
Matt Stevens was the UCLA quarterback. After sharing the starting quarterback job with David Norrie for the first half of the season, he eventually lost the starter's job after playing poorly at Washington in a loss in the Bruins' Pac-10 opening game. Stevens did not find out he was starting until a few minutes before the game, when Norrie could not play due to an injury.
Iowa—David Hudson, one-yard run. Rob Houghtlin PAT (Point after touchdown).
UCLA—Eric Ball, 30-yard run. John Lee PAT.
UCLA—Lee, 42-yard field goal.
Iowa—Houghtlin, 24-yard field goal.
UCLA—Ball, 40-yard run. Lee PAT.
UCLA—Ball, six-yard run. Lee PAT.
At the half, the score is UCLA 24, Iowa 10. The story of the game so far is Ronnie Harmon's four fumbles and Eric Ball's three touchdowns.Iowa—Chuck Long four-yard run. Houghtlin PAT.
UCLA—Mike Sherrard, six-yard pass from Matt Stevens. Lee PAT.
UCLA—Ball, 32-yard run. Lee PAT.
Iowa—Houghtlin, 52-yard field goal. (This tied the record for longest field goal made in the Rose Bowl.)
UCLA—Stevens, one-yard run. Lee PAT.
Iowa—Bill Happel, 11-yard pass from Long. Harmon run for two points.
Iowa missed an outside shot at the final #1 ranking, with #2 Miami losing to Tennessee 35–7 in the Sugar Bowl and #3 Oklahoma defeating #1 Penn State 25–10 in the Orange Bowl. Oklahoma had leapfrogged Iowa on December 10 in the poll. Michigan finished at #2 after their Fiesta Bowl win, the highest final poll ranking ever achieved by Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.
This game had a 22.7 television ratings share. Through 2007, only the 1987 Fiesta Bowl game has a higher U.S. television rating at 24.9. Only the 1988 Orange Bowl at a 20.8 and the 2006 Rose Bowl at a 21.7 have over a 20 share since the 1986 Rose Bowl.
Though Iowa lost in Chuck Long's final game in the 1986 Rose Bowl a 45–28 loss to UCLA, the loophole with the redshirting rule allowed Long to play in his fifth bowl game. He is believed to be the only collegiate player to participate in five bowl games. Long's Iowa teams compiled a 35-13-1 record. He graduated with 10,461 passing yards and 74 touchdowns on 782 completions. He held every passing record at the University of Iowa except one (passes attempted in a game) when he graduated. Long holds the best completion percentage of any college quarterback all-time who has attempted more than 1,000 career passes. He was also the first Big Ten player and just the second player in college football history to throw for more than 10,000 yards in a career. Chuck Long was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
It has been implied that Harmon was actually throwing the game with the fumbles and dropped pass. Coach Hayden Fry commented on the issue in his book High Porch Picnic:
"Harmon took a lot of heat because he lost four fumbles, all in the first half. That was uncharacteristic of him; I think he fumbled once during the regular season. The game film reveals that every fumble he lost was caused by a UCLA defender making a hard hit. They just knocked the ball loose. They [UCLA] did a great job of tackling. UCLA made bad things happen to Iowa; Iowa didn’t self-destruct. Ronnie Harmon had a tremendous football career with the Hawkeyes, and I hated to see it end that way."
Harmon had 14 carries for a total of 55 yards.
This was Donahue's third and final win in the Rose Bowl Game. It was the fourth New Year's Day win in a row for Donahue and the Bruins. It would culminate in an NCAA record seven straight bowl game wins for Donahue and the Bruins following the 1989 Cotton Bowl. Donahue coached in 13 bowl games, second only in the Pac-10 to Don James' 14 bowl games. As of the 2015 season, the Bruins have not won again in the Rose Bowl game.
Future NFL Players James Washington, Mike Sherrard, Mark Walen, Ken Norton, Jr., Jim Wahler, Carnell Lake, Darryl Henley, Chuck Long, Ronnie Harmon, Larry Station, Devon Mitchell, and Mike Haight played in this game.
Kirk Ferentz, Bill Snyder, and Barry Alvarez were assistant coaches for Hayden Fry.