Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rose Bowl Memories


On the one hour drive home to Camarillo from Pasadena today, I daydreamed about this year's Rose Bowl game and the first two big Rose Bowls for me.

January 1, 1960
Washington 44 - Wisconsin 8

The first Rose Bowl Game I watched on TV.  I was hooked on being a Husky one day because of this game.

The Co-MVP's of the game were Husky QB Bob Schloredt and Husky RB George Fleming.  The Huskies finished the 1959 season with a 10-1 record, while the Wisconsin Badgers dropped to 7-3.

Bob Schloredt would win the MVP award again after leading Washington (10-1) to a 17-7 victory over Minnesota (8-2) in the 1961 Rose Bowl.

This was the first BIG win by a West Coast team vs. a Big Ten team since the two conferences signed the Rose Bowl pact to have their champions square off in the Arroyo Seco each New Year's Day starting in 1947. 

January 1, 1963
#1 Southern California 42 - #2 Wisconsin 37


#19 Hal Bedsole, USC's All-American WR,
catching a pass in the dark jersey above,
caught 4 passes for 101 yards and 2 TDs.

The 1963 Rose Bowl Game was the first one I ever attended and is generally considered the greatest game in Rose Bowl history.  I still have my copy of the program you see above and my ticket to the game.

My mother bought me two tickets and I gave one to one of my childhood friends, John Walsh, who would eventually graduate from USC.  We were sophomores at St. Francis High School at the time and we actually walked to the game, about four miles from John's house, to be among the 98,698 officially in attendance.  It was the 1960's after all!

The main story line of the game was that, amazingly, for the first time in college football bowl game history the #1 and #2 teams in the country were facing off against each other.  USC was the #1 team with a 10-0 record coming into the game while #2 Wisconsin was 8-1.

What made this game so memorable was Wisconsin QB Ron VanderKelen's heroics as he passed the Badgers back from a 42-14 deficit with only 14:54 left in the game to almost pull it out.  Now remember, this was the early 1960's and teams didn't pass very often.  During the regular 9 game season, VanderKelen had only passed for 1,181 yards.  What made it doubly interesting was that the Rose Bowl had VERY poor lighting back then and was not really equipped to deal with the game as the sun was going WAY down.  There was a real feeling in the stadium that day that they may have to call the game because of darkness but they were able to finish in the gloaming.

Co-MVP's of this game were the two QBs, Pete Beatherd for USC and Wisconsin's VanderKelen.

Beatherd was 8 for 12 passing for 190 yards and a Rose Bowl record 4 TDs which has been tied three times since then. 

VanderKelen completed 33 of 48 passes for 401 yards and 2 TDs.  He also ran for a TD.  The 48 pass attempts and 401 yards passing were the Rose Bowl records until Danny O'Neil of Oregon threw for 456 yards on 61 pass attempts in the 1995 Rose Bowl Game vs. Penn State.  VanderKelen's two marks both still rank #2 in the Rose Bowl's history 45 years later.

GOOD TIMES INDEED!!!

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