For 364 days a year, Pasadena. Calif., is a gentle, cultivated city
populated by little old ladies who sit behind lace curtains and,
according to legend, knit Volkswagens. But on New Year's Day. Pasadena
is no place for the timid. Bass drums defile the dawn, and the aroma of
American Beauty mingles with the perfume of nervous palomino. The
Tournament of Roses parade is all about girls and beauty; the
afternoon's football game is supposed to separate the men from the boys.
There have been times when the fans wished that they had gone home
after the parade. But not this year. Matched in the Rose Bowl were the
nation's two top teams, Southern California and Wisconsin, and in 3˝
hours of matchless play, they restored to college football all the grace
and aggressiveness, the fun and glory that it had presumably lost to the
In the regular season, Southern Cal had ripped off ten straight
victories, outscored its opponents 219 to 55, wound up No. 1 in the
nation. It had a highly touted quarterback in Pete Beathard, 20, a
200-lb. junior, and an All-America end in Hal Bedsole, who had broken
every U.S.C. pass-catching record (29 catches, 726 yds., 9 TDs).
Wisconsin, champion of the arrogant Big Ten, had won eight games, lost
one (to Ohio State, 14-7), was ranked No. 2 in the country. Its passer
was Ron VanderKelen, 23, a bean-tall senior from football-crazy Green
Bay, who played only 90 seconds in his first two varsity years but was
voted the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player this season. Its end was Pat
Richter, 21, who caught 38 passes, made ten All-America teams. Wisconsin
also felt it had a little score to settle. Six times this season,
schools from the Big Ten had been beaten by teams from the West's Big
Six; twice in the last three years, the Big Ten had been humiliated in
the Rose Bowl—and the worst licking of all was Wisconsin's own 44-8
shellacking by Washington in 1960.
"The kids are a little bored knocking each other around," said
Wisconsin's Coach Milt Bruhn. "They know there's a job to be done, and
they're anxious to get to it." At the kickoff, Wisconsin was a
three-point favorite. But U.S.C. swiftly made the point spread seem
After only 5˝ minutes, with a fourth down on the Wisconsin 13, U.S.C.
Coach John McKay sprang a clever trap on the Badgers, who were playing a
man-to-man pass defense. Trojan Tackle Ron Butcher came scurrying on
field with a rarely used play. "IG84-weak tackle look," Quarterback
Beathard muttered in the huddle. The Trojans lined up over the ball—and,
way out on the right wing, a U.S.C. back casually stepped up into the
line. At the same instant. Left End Bedsole took a step backward,
thereby making Tackle Butcher a legal pass receiver—for that one play.
The notion of a tackle catching a pass never occurred to the befuddled
Badgers. All alone in the Wisconsin secondary. Butcher gathered in
Beathard's lazy little toss and jumped high with joy —right into the end
zone. Score: U.S.C. 7, Wisconsin o.
It took Wisconsin eleven plays to get the touchdown back. In the
81-yd. march, Quarterback VanderKelen completed four bull's-eye passes,
sent his fullback cracking over tackle for the last yard and the score.
But U.S.C. had more surprises to show. Beathard began experimenting with
U.S.C.'s complex man-in-motion ground attack. "All season long," says
Coach McKay, "we sent our man-in-motion in the direction the play was
going. Now we began sending the man-in-motion one way and the ball the
other." Trojan Fullback Ben Wilson ripped through the center of
Wisconsin's line for one TD. Minutes later, behind a phalanx of three
blockers. Halfback Ron Heller cut off right tackle and sprinted 25 yds.
for another touchdown that gave U.S.C. a 21-7 lead.
"We Knew." By half time, the California fans were settling
comfortably back to enjoy the slaughter. Yet in the Wisconsin dressing
room a curious calm prevailed. "We were surprised that they hit us so
hard in the beginning," recalls VanderKelen. "But nobody was desperate.
We knew we could come back." Hardly anyone else agreed. On the very
first play from scrimmage in the second half, U.S.C.'s Beathard fired a
little "lookin" pass to Left End Bedsole, who took two quick steps
forward and cut diagonally across the field. Once again Wisconsin was
asleep. Two vicious blocks cut down the only defenders with a shot at
Bedsole, and he rambled and strutted 57 yds. for a touchdown.
VanderKelen got that one back personally. In seven plays, he moved from kickoff to the U.S.C. 17, coolly mixing passes with line bucks to keep the defense guessing. Then, trying to pass, he looked for his receivers. All were covered. In came the thundering U.S.C. line, murder in every step. At the last instant, VanderKelen wriggled loose from a tackier, saw daylight and raced all the way to a touchdown. It seemed like a dying gasp. U.S.C.'s Beathard threw 23 yds. to Bedsole for one touchdown, 13 yds. to End Fred Hill for another—and with just 14 min. left in the game, Southern Cal led, 42-14 (video). The Badger band bravely tooted On Wisconsin, but it sounded forlorn. "We're No. 1! You're No. 2!" chanted Trojan fans. ''We want the Packers!" they screamed, "Bring on Green Bay!"Go! Go! Go!"
Green Bay they got-in Ron VanderKelen. No professional
quarterback ever displayed more poise or rallied more gallantly. In one
of those stunning moments of sport when a good player becomes great and
does everything right and nothing wrong, he filled the air with
footballs, lobbing long passes to Richter on the sidelines, shooting
short flare passes to his halfbacks. A beautifully timed running play
sent Halfback Lou Holland scampering 13 yds. around right end, and that
made the score 42-21. Now U.S.C. began to feel the pressure. Wisconsin
recovered a Trojan fumble on the U.S.C. 29. Another deadeye pass from
VanderKelen to Halfback Gary Kroner meant another touchdown, and
U.S.C.'s lead was cut to 14 points.
Suddenly, 98,000 spectators awoke to the fact that they were
witnessing an uncommon game. In homes all across the U.S., children were
shushed into silence and telephones went unanswered as TV held the eyes.
The U.S.C. offense, so potent minutes before, sputtered to a halt. The
U.S.C. punter dropped back to kick from his 12-yd. line, the pass from
center sailed over his head and into the end zone. Almost another
Wisconsin touchdown, but U.S.C. recovered just in time for just a
two-point Wisconsin safety.
Once again Wisconsin and VanderKelen got the ball. "Throw it!"
screamed the crowd. ''Go! Go! Go!" Dancing, faking, sidestepping
tacklers, VanderKelen threw —on the dead run, off balance, any way at
all. A Trojan lineman trapped him on the U.S.C. 37. Arm cocked, falling
sideways, VanderKelen let fly. Incredibly, he hit Richter on the Trojan
17. Another pass to Richter, another Wisconsin TD. Up stepped
Wisconsin's place kicker Gary Kroner, and as the kickers for both teams
had all afternoon, he clipped it professionally through the uprights for
the extra point. Up shot the referee's arms, and the score was 42-37 (video).
The clock read 1 min. 19 sec. left in the game, and desperate U.S.C.
backs began to run backward to eat up the time. At last, Southern Cal
had to punt. The two lines collided viciously, and three Wisconsin
players smashed through, trying to block the kick. It soared over their
outstretched fingers. On the Wisconsin 44, Lou Holland fielded the ball.
Wham! a Trojan tackler hit him. Bang! the game was over.
Every Kid's Dream. U.S.C. was still No. 1. Wisconsin was still No. 2.
But there were roses enough to go all around. Together, U.S.C. and
Wisconsin tallied 79 points, a Rose Bowl record. Trojan Quarterback
Beathard's four touchdown passes set another record. And Ron VanderKelen,
completing 33 of 48 passes for 401 yds., put on the greatest one-man
show in the Rose Bowl's 49-game history.
That night the offers from the pros started pouring in for the youngster who was all but passed up in last month's player draft. Coach Vince Lombardi of VanderKelen's home-town Packers called person-to-person from Green Bay. VanderKelen was still unsure about a pro career. But there was no question about the team he would like to play for. "Every kid who grows up in Green Bay," he said, "dreams of being on field with the Packers."
|Hal Bledsole catches TD pass for USC.|
Bledsole scores on 57 yard reception.
Lou Holland carries for Wisconsin.
In the annals of sports, this one has become the stuff of legends.