PASADENA, Jan. 2- This Rose Bowl was supposed to be different. Twenty
years had passed since Illinois represented the Big Ten Conference here
at the start of a new year.
With a coach and passing combination imported from California and with
the ability to beat the Pacific-10 Conference at its own wide-open game,
an element that Big Ten teams traditionally lacked, all those cold
winters back home could be forgotten.
But for the llini, the 70th Rose Bowl turned out to be nothing but one
embarrassing shock after another. They lost to U.C.L.A today, 45-9,
before a crowd of 103,217 to equal the most one-sided defeat a Big Ten
team had suffered here since the two conferences began the relationship
in 1947. The Bruins, who did not win the Pac-10 championship until the
final weekend of the season when they defeated Southern California and
Washington lost to Washington State, took a 28-3 lead by halftime. At
the end of the game, when the scoreboards had stopped working- because,
it was suspected, of a prank by California Institute of Technology
students- the outcome was no longer in doubt.
"The only highlight of the game for me was when the scoreboard went
out," said Mike White, the Illinois coach. "It eased the pain a little."
The Illini (10-2), who had been ranked as high as fourth in the nation
and who were confident of a spot in the Rose Bowl after having defeated
Michigan in late October, gained a net rushing total of zero yards. "We
were getting into situations where we had to throw,” said Jack Trudeau,
the sophomore Illini quarterback, who had three passes intercepted,
tying a Rose Bowl record. "We didn't execute. We didn't block. We didn’t
tackle. We didn’t throw.”
"I really couldn't tell you what happened," said Mark Butkus, the
defensive tackle whose uncle, Dick, played on the Illini team that beat
Washington here in 1964.
"Maybe I can wear a mask around campus," said Don Thorp, the all-America
defensive tackle. "It's not that I’m ashamed. We should have done a
Rick Neuheisel, The UCLA quarterback whose college career began without
a scholarship, passed for 4 touchdowns to tie a Rose Bowl and school
record. He completed 31 passes for 288 yards. He ran an offense that
controlled the powerful Illinois defensive line and humiliated its
secondary. He was named the most valuable player of the game.
And what made Neuheisel's day even more remarkable was the way that he
felt when it started.
He felt lousy.
He awoke in a hotel room at 4 A.M. queasy and sweating hours before his
first Rose Bowl as a starter. "I thought it was nerves," he recalled.
But Neuheisel had been in important games earlier in this season, and he
had never felt anything like this. By the time the game started, the
quarterback had vomited four times.
The problem, apparently, was food poisoning, not nerves. Several other
players were affected, three of them- the starting defensive tackle,
David Randle, the punter, Kevin Buenafe and the reserve defensive
lineman Tory Pankopf- badly enough so that they could not play. The
quarterback said that once the game started, he felt better. "Except
when I sat on the bench,” he said, "and my head felt kind of light.”
mounting score was making all the Bruins giddy. Defensively, U.C.L.A.
disguised its defensive coverages to force Trudeau into several damaging
mistakes. Offensively, the Bruins challenged Thorp and Butkus, the
strength of the Illini defense, with frequent substitutions. Mark
Mannon, who was moved from center to guard, rotated with Mike Hartmeier
against Butkus and Jim McCullough and Chris Yelich were alternated
Thorp made 13 tackles and Butkus made 9, but most importantly, each made
just a single tackle for a loss. The rotation seemed to be a factor. “It
shouldn’t have been,” Butkus said, “They might have been a little
fresher. There’s no excuse. We didn’t play the game we should have.”
Mistakes repeatedly led to UCLA scores. Craig Swoope’s fumble after
Illinois blocked a field goal gave the Bruins the ball at the Illini 14
and led to a 3-yard touchdown pass from Neuheisel to Paul Bergmann for a
After Chris White’s field goal cut the lead to 7-3, Kevin Nelson, the
U.C.L.A. tailback went through the middle of the Illini defense for a 28
yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead.
Don Rogers’s second interception, which tied a Rose Bowl record, led to
Neuheisel's 16 yard pass to Karl Dorrell and a 21-3 lead. Keith Taylor,
the Illinois freshman cornerback from Pennsauken, N.J., who won a job in
the fifth game of the season, was beaten by Dorrell and then was beaten
by Mike Young on a 53-yard touchdown that gave the Bruins a 28-3 lead.
Much later, as Taylor returned to the Illinois huddle, Swoope, whose
fumble followed the blocked field goal attempt early in the game, gave
Taylor a pat on the helmet. Swoope could understand what Taylor was
By that time, Neuheisel was feeling much better. In your wildest dreams,
he was asked, did you imagine anything like this? “This was my wildest
dream," he said.
And at the end of the day that Neuheisel began by feeling so sick, it
was the Illini that left with the bad taste in their mouths. "I feel
miserable, right now." Mark Butkus said.
UCLA- Bergmann 3 pass from Neuheisel (Lee kick)
UI- FG White 41
UCLA- Nelson 28 run (Lee kick)
UCLA- Dorrell 16 pass from Neuheisel (Lee kick)
UCLA- Young 53 pass from Neuheisel (Lee kick)
UCLA- Dorrell 15 pass from Neuheisel (Lee kick)
UCLA- FG Lee 29
UI- Rooks 5 pass fro Trudeau (pass failed)
UCLA- Wiley 8 run (Lee kick)
UI- Beverley 4-22, Rooks 8-22
UCLA- Cephous 12-86, Nelson 18-69, Wiley 6-26
UI- Trudeau 23-39-178, Cruz 2-8-37
UCLA- Neuheisel 22-31-298
UI- Williams 10-88, Rooks 6-35, Brewster 5-60
UCLA- Young 5-129, Dorrell 5-61, Bergmann 4-54, Sherrard 4-25