Rose Bowl



Minnesota 21




Minnesota Fight Song


Note: In the days before the BCS, the days before the Big 10-PAC 10 automatic Rose Bowl match-up, the West Coast champion would decide who there opponent was to be in the New Year’s Day game. In 1960, the Big Five (the forerunner to today's Pac-10 conference) decided to offer its 1961 Rose Bowl bid to the number-one team in the nation instead of the Big Ten champion. Fortunately for the Big 10, the 8-1 Minnesota Gophers were the number one team in the nation following the regular season. It would be the first Rose Bowl appearance in history for Minnesota. On New Year’s Day, the Gophers came out flat and lost to Washington, 17-7. The West Coast press was merciless in its criticism of the Minnesota program, implying that the Gophers had been overrated.

In the off season, Coach Murray Warmath’s Gophers regrouped, determined to avenge the loss. The team returned quarterback Sandy Stephens and All-American Bobby Bell. Stephens was the first African-American quarterback chosen as All-American. He had taken Minnesota from last place in the Big 10 in 1959 to the National Championship in 1960. But, in that era, the final polls were conducted before the bowls were played.


Because of the Rose Bowl loss, Stephens had detractors who said that he, or any black quarterback, couldn’t win the big game. Minnesota played well in 1961, but finished second in the Big 10 at 7-2 to Ohio State. However, at OSU the Faculty Council voted to decline the Rose Bowl invitation which set off student demonstrations in Columbus for two nights. Several thousand marched four miles downtown to the state capitol and finally university, city, and state police had to restore order. But, for the University of Minnesota football team, it was a miracle and a return to Pasadena.

UCLA (7-3) was coached by Bill Barnes. They utilized the old single wing offense which was rapidly becoming obsolete in the early 60’s. The Bruins plan was to stop the outside rollouts of Stephens. Minnesota hoped to use its experience the previous year to take it to the Bruins from the start. The game is remembered also for being the first coast-to-coast color telecast of a college football game. It was televised nationwide by NBC.



Pasadena, Cal. (UPI)- All America quarterback Sandy Stephens ran, passed and kicked the UCLA Bruins dizzy Monday as powerful Minnesota ground out a 21-3 victory in the 48th renewal of the Rose Bowl classic.

Stephens, unanimous choice for player of the game, scored two touchdowns, was flawless with his passing in the first half, called the signals, gained 47 yards rushing from his T-formation slot and punted the Gophers 0ut of trouble on several occasions.

While Stephens was pulling on his All-America performance, the big Minnesota line, anchored by the great tackle Bobby Bell, sifted through a porous UCLA wall seemingly at will to halt any offensive threat the Bruins started.

Exuberant Minnesota rooters, frustrated last year in losing the 1961 Rose Bowl game 17-7 to Washington, poured on to the field before the game was over and leveled the goal posts at both ends of the field with the clock showing six seconds to play.

Playing before 98,214 fans under a "summery" sun that sent temperatures soaring up around the 85-degree mark on the playing field, the Gophers completely dominated the nationally televised game after the first six minutes of play. It was during those
first few minutes that the Bruins got their only score- a 28 yard field goal by tailback Bobby Smith.

Any other UCLA threats were bottled up as Minnesota practiced ball control in a game that had only fleeting seconds of excitement.

Minnesota got its first, break when Bruin fullback Almose Thompson fumbled and Gopher fullback Judge Dickson recovered on the UCLA 6. Three plays later Stephens dived over from the 1 for the score and the pattern set for victory.

Minnesota had the ball for only 10 plays in the first quarter, but thereafter it was the other way around as the Gophers possessed the ball for three-fourths of the plays in amassing 20 first downs to UCLA's 8.

The Gophers made it 14-3 shortly before the first half ended with the second touchdown coming on a 75-yard, 17-play march that paid off with Bill Munsey diving over from the 3. On the drive, the longest Minnesota ground gain was five yards, but Stephens tossed three completes, one for 12 yards and two for 9 each.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Gophers took 19 plays to march 84 yards for the last counter- with Stephens moving the team into scoring position with his aerials, then going over for the touchdown from the 2.

Substitute tackle Tom Loechler unerringly booted three conversions.

The game, which had been billed as a defensive battle- with Minnesota an eight-point favorite, lived up to that unexciting billing, providing the large crowd with one of the dullest Rose Bowl games in recent years.

Minnesota linemen sped through holes in the UCLA offensive line to halt drives started by Bruin tailback's Bobby Smith and Mike Hallner, and fullback Thompson's two fumbles- both in critical situations- further blunted the Bruin offense. His second bobble came early in the fourth period when UCLA had driven to the Minnesota 13. He recovered this one, but it was a fourth down situation and UCLA was forced to give up the ball.

Stephens completed 7 of 11 passes for 75 yards and he averaged 40.6 yards on three punts in addition to his rushing total.

Minnesota got a chance to redeem itself after last year's loss when Ohio Stale's Big Ten champion team was not permitted to accept a Rose Bowl bid by order of its faculty committee. The loss was the fifth straight for UCLA in the Rose Bowl. The Bruins have not won a Rose Bowl game.


Sandy Stephens hands off to Judge Dickson.


Dickson carries for Minnesota.



UCLA picked off a few of Stephens' passes.


But, more often than not, Stephens connected.


Gopher's Coach Warmath had his revenge.


Cartoon from the Sporting News.


Attendance: 98,214

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
UCLA- FG Smith 28
UM- Stephens 1 run (Loechler kick)

Second Quarter
UM- Munsey 3 run (Loechler kick)

Fourth Quarter
UM- Stephens 2 run (Loechler kick)

Individual Statistics

UM- Stephens 12-46, Dickson 12-45
UCLA- Alexander 10-48, Thompson 6-12

UM- Stephens 7-11-75
UCLA- Smith 2-5-22

UM- Cairns 2-24, Deegan 2-23
UCLA- Alexander 3-26