Minnesota had appeared in the 1961 Rose Bowl, losing to Washington. At the time the Grand Daddy of Them All had a “no repeat” rule excluding Big Ten teams from back-to-back appearances. Fast forward to 1962, Ohio St won the conference (the Gophers took 2nd place), but turned down the bowl as they wanted to “focus on academics”. So the Tournament of Roses invited Minnesota as an at large team, not a Big Ten team going to back-to-back Rose Bowls to face off against UCLA.
So for today’s throwback I’ve got the visual and textual recap of the only Rose Bowl win in Gopher program history. First up the video brought to us by an amazing digitization project from an awesome scheme from the United Kingdom. Strangely the Brits have much better footage than the Minnesota Historical Society does (please don’t fire me).
Now that you’ve gotten a good idea what it looked like here is the recap from the Winona Daily News, January 2, 1962:
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Big Ten’s two-game Rose Bowl losing streak today ended after Minnesota's Gophers gave a painful 21-3 lesson in power football to UCLA's battered Bruins.
UCLA, although an 8 point underdog, was supposed to toss some “stone age" single wing trouble at the Gophers who were humiliated in the previous Rose Bowl battle 17-7 by Washington.
But the Sandy Stephens guided
Gophers handed the caveman treatment to the Bruins before some more than 100,00 grudging-ly-admiring fans in the sun-drenched 48th Rose Bowl game Monday.
Stephens scored the first and last TDs in Minnesota's almost methodical victory. UCLA, champions of the Big Five, showed a lot of early loot In a perky first quarter taking a 3-0 lead on Bobby Smith's 23 yard field goal.
But Stephens, who was acclaimed the games most valuable player in a press box ballot, went to work on the Bruin defenses with a skillful blend of power running and pinpoint passing.
When the shadows purpled the
San Gabriel Mountains behind the huge bowl in the Arroyo Seco, the Gophers had out rushed the perplexed Bruins a whopping 222 yards to 55.
Taking a 14-3 first half lead, the Gophers virtually toyed with the tiring Bruins in the second half. This quite adequately avenged the Gophers' surprise spanking by Washington and Wisconsin's 44-8 thumping by the same Huskies in 1960 Rose Bowl game.
For sad UCLA, it was the Bruins’ fifth Rose Bowl failure in as many trips and marked the 13th Big Ten victory in 15 Rose Bowl games since the present series began between the West Coast and the Western conference.
The 212 pound Stephens, who
soon will decide which of three pro football offers to accept, was a perfect quarterback in Monday's rugged contest.
"As soon as I saw that UCLA was primed to stop my quarterback option play," said Stephens, "I began running our other backs to the inside and miring up things with passes.”
Stephens was drafted by the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League and the New York Titans of the American Football League and has been approached by Montreal of the Canadian League.
“I am making it clear to any club that signs me, I want at least a two-year trial at quarterback,” said Stephens, who generally has been pegged as a likely offensive or defensive pro halfback.
The mass of Gopher fans who
tore down the Rose Bowl goal posts had good reason to suspect Stephens may make a better than fair pro quarterback.
Stephens not only passed with clever timing — hitting on 7 of 11 tosses for 75 yards — and rushing 45 yards on 12 carries, but he constantly kept UCLA off balance with his play selection.
Said UCLA coach Bill Barnes: “Stephens is a real fine passer, but the best job he did against us was calling signals.”
Star Minnesota tackle Bobby Bell probably best described UCLA’s showing: “They had a good, tough willing line, but that was about all.”
With Minnesota behind 3-0 after
Smith’s field goal in the only really impressive Bruin drive of the day, Stephens quickly exploited a UCLA fumble deep in Bruin territory for the first Gopher touchdown.
On the third play after Judge Dickson recovered Morose Thompson's fumble on the UCLA 6, Stephens dove across from the one yard line and Minnesota moved ahead 7-3.
Then came a brilliant display of Gopher ball control with a 75 yard scoring march in 16 plays with halfback Bill Munsey darting the final three yards on a cutback in the second quarter. Although Minnesota's third and final touchdown didn't come until late in the final quarter, the Gophers completely dominated play in the second half.
Stephens scampered wide for
his second touchdown from the two yard line, capping an 83 yard march in 19 plays.
This was a great victory for Minnesota's end corps, headed particularly by Johnny Campbell, who did a tremendous job of containing UCLA's wide sweeps.
The wingmen knew they played a major role in the Rose Bowl conquest and, 'after the game, hoisted end coach George (Butch) Nash to their shoulders the same time the rest of the squad was giving the victory ride to head coach Warmath.
Bernie Bierman, former Minnesota coaching great, said the turning point came after UCLA reached Minnesota's six to the first quarter and then was thrown for a six-yard loss on third down.
Minnesota was penalized 70
yards to 5 for UCLA, a factor Warmath attributed to "the hazard of trying to be an aggressive team.”
Warmath, as well acquainted single wing as UCLA's Barnes, explained that Minnesota's defense was geared to the Bruins' offense from the time they came out of the huddle.
"When the Bruins serpentined (snake like approach) out of the huddle, we had everybody meet our halfbacks reversing defensive positions with them," said Warmth.
“They felt this maneuver gave them an advantage, but we felt that by reversing with them, we took their advantage away."
In the final analysis, it was a
ball control game that won far Minnesota. The Gophers had two scoring drives of 75 yards in the second period and 83 yards in the final quarter. In between, they banged 43 Yards in 6 plays in the second under and 47 yards in 8 plays in the third period.
In Stephens' clever mixing of Gopher plays, he sent ether backs crashing through UCLA's line 43 times, while carrying the ball only 12 times himself on the option play.
Fullback Dickson hauled 12 times for 46 yards, Munsey responded 10 times for 41 yards. while Jerry Jones and Jim Cairns were called upon 9 and 7 times, gaining 31 and 38 yards respectively.
And if you want to own a piece of that 55 year old memory, there is a ton of Gopher Rose Bowl memorabilia on ebay!