1923 Rose Bowl
9th Rose Bowl Game
1234 Total
Penn State 3000 3
USC 0770 14
DateJanuary 1, 1923
StadiumRose Bowl Stadium
(First Rose Bowl game in the stadium)
LocationPasadena, California
MVPLeo Calland (G USC)
National anthemSpirit of Troy
Halftime showSpirit of Troy
Rose Bowl
 < 1922  1924

The 1923 Rose Bowl, played on January 1, 1923, was an American Football bowl game. It was the 9th Rose Bowl Game. The USC Trojans defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 14–3.[1] Leo Calland, a USC guard, was named the Rose Bowl Player of the Game when the award was created in 1953 and selections were made retroactively.[2] It was the first bowl game appearance for both the University of Southern California and Pennsylvania State University football teams. It was also the first Tournament of Roses football game held in the newly constructed Rose Bowl Stadium, although other games had been played in it prior to this one.


Main article: Rose Bowl (stadium)

The game now known as the Rose Bowl Game was played at Tournament Park until 1922 when it was known as the "Tournament East-West football game". Organizers of the Tournament of Roses realized that the temporary stands were inadequate for a crowd of 40,000+, and sought to build a better, permanent stadium.

The Rose Bowl was designed by architect Myron Hunt in 1921. His design, as well as the name for the stadium, was influenced by the Yale Bowl. The Arroyo Seco (translation "dry stream") was selected as the location for the stadium. The Rose Bowl was under construction from 1921 to 1922.

A number of regular season games were played there before the actual Tournament of Roses football game to try out the new stadium. USC had actually already played three games in the new stadium: USC lost to California in the first game in the stadium on October 28, 1922, and defeated Idaho and Washington State in the new stadium to close out their season. The Olympic Club also played a football game there. The stadium was dedicated officially on January 1, 1923.


See also: 1922 college football season

Penn State Nittany Lions

Main article: 1922 Penn State Nittany Lions football team

In the 1921 season, Penn State was 8–2–0 with wins over Navy, Georgia Tech, and Washington. In the 1922 season the Lions opened with wins over St. Bonaventure, William and Mary, Gettysburg, Lebanon Valley. By mid October they were viewed as a likely candidate to be invited to play in the Rose Bowl.[3] On October 21, the Nittany Lions got their fifth straight season win against Middlebury for their homecoming game. Penn State was officially extended an invitation by the Tournament committee, and they accepted.[4]

The Lions tied Syracuse 0–0 at the Polo Grounds in New York city in front of their largest seasonal crowd to date, 25,000. Then the Nittany Lions lost to Navy 0–14 in Washington D.C., breaking a 30-game undefeated streak on November 3.[5] Despite the loss, the Tournament selection committee re-affirmed its choice.[6] They beat Carnegie Tech,[7] but the Tournament committee still faced controversy. They re-affirmed their decision again.[8] The Nittany Lions then lost to in-state rivals Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh.[9]

USC Trojans

Main article: 1922 USC Trojans football team

The Trojans opened 5–0 to start the season. This was the first season of competition in the Pacific Coast Conference for the USC Trojans. The first PCC conference game was against California. The first game in the Rose Bowl stadium was the regular season contest on October 28, 1922, when Cal defeated USC 12–0. This was the only loss for USC, and California finished the season undefeated. Cal declined the invitation to the 1923 Rose Bowl game by vote of the associated students. This made the deciding games to be whether Cal would defeat Washington by more than 12, and whether USC would defeat Stanford on November 11.[10] USC went on to beat Occidental and Stanford. The Trojans then played Idaho, and Washington State in the new Rose Bowl stadium and defeated both. The Trojans actually finished fourth in the PCC behind Cal, Oregon, and Washington. The PCC committee held a mail vote. The Trojans were given the berth on the basis of the defeat of Washington State and the tie between Washington and Oregon on Thanksgiving Day.[11] The Trojans received six of eight conference votes.[12]

Game summary

The 29-member Penn State traveling party left State College, Pennsylvania, by train on December 19. They stopped in Chicago and the Grand Canyon. They arrived in Pasadena, California, on December 24. The Nittany Lions worked out in the Rose Bowl stadium, alternating with the Trojans. Lions coach Bezdek was noted for changing their play style frequently.[13]

The morning of the game on January 1, the team watched the Tournament of Roses Parade. The Lions left in several taxi cabs at 11 a.m. for the drive to the Rose Bowl, but as the 2:15 p.m. kickoff approached, the team was delayed by post-parade traffic. Only after the cab drivers drove over the lawns of local residents did the Penn State team finally reach the Rose Bowl stadium.[14] When the team arrived, they found kickoff already had been delayed by 10 minutes. Penn State coach Hugo Bezdek and USC coach Gus Henderson almost came to blows as Bezdek successfully lobbied game officials for additional warmup time. The game finally started an hour late and ended in moonlight, with sportswriters lighting matches in order to finish their stories.[14]

Penn State scored first on a 20-yard drop-kick field goal by Mike Palm. Roy "Bullet" Baker rushed for 123 yards and one touchdown for the Trojans. The Lions were held to five first downs and 104 yards.


First Quarter

Second Quarter

Third Quarter

Fourth Quarter

no score


The nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum also was under construction during this time and would be completed in May 1923. It would become the home stadium for both USC and UCLA for decades until UCLA moved to the Rose Bowl for its home games in 1982.

Penn State's share of the proceeds, $21,349.64, was directed toward the $2 million Emergency Building Fund and in particular the construction of Varsity Hall (now Irvin Hall) on campus.

The game was the first USC game attended by Giles Pellerin, at the time a high school student. Pellerin, who became known as the "Super Fan", would go on to attend 797 consecutive USC football games over a period of 73 years until his death at age 91 just outside the same stadium in 1998.[15]


  1. ^ "Tournament of Roses – Rose Bowl Game Photo Timeline". Archived from the original on May 21, 2008. Retrieved April 23, 2008.
  2. ^ 2008 Rose Bowl Program Archived 2008-03-06 at the Wayback Machine, 2008 Rose Bowl. Accessed January 26, 2008.
  3. ^ PENN STATE LIKELY TO FACE BEARS Everything Settled for New Year's Day Game but Selection of Teams. Los Angeles Times, October 17, 1922. "It is quite likely that Penn State will face the California Bears in the New Year's Day football classic at Pasadena, according to rumors being circulated in football circles hereabouts."
  4. ^ OLD PENN IS WILLIN' TO COME Nittany Lion Accepts Conference Invitation to Play at Pasadena. Los Angeles Times, October 26, 1922. CORVALLIS, (Or.) Oct. 25.-- Pennsylvania State University will accept the invitation of the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Conference to represent the East in the intersectional football game at Pasadena. Cal., January 1, against a team to be selected by the Pacific Coast conference, according to a message received late today by Dr. U.G. Duback, president of the Coast conference.
  5. ^ NAVY WARRIORS TRAMPLE OVER PENN STATERS BY 14 TO 0 SCORE MIDDIES MAKE GENTLE CATS OF NITTANY LIONS; Pennsylvanians Launch Valiant Struggle on Tanbark, But Sailors Quell Attacks. Los Angeles Times, November 4, 1922. WASHINGTON (D.C.) Nov. 3.--The Navy goat proved more powerful than the Nittany lion here today and Naval Academy football team gave the Penn State aggregation the first defeat it has suffered in more than four years. The Nittany Lion was more conspicuous before the contest, but he could not horn in on the proceedings after the whistle had blown. The lion did the mascotting for an eleven that had to be satisfied with the butt end of a 14-to-0 count.
  6. ^ NONE OTHER THAN PENN STATE WILL REPRESENT EAST ON NEW YEAR'S CONFERENCE STICKS TO ITS ORIGINAL SELECTION; Pacific Coast Eleven to be Named on Saturday Preceding Thanksgiving Day. Los Angeles Times, November 7, 1922. Penn State's football team will positively represent the East in the New Year's Day game at Pasadena on January 1. This much was definitely settled some time ago and was confirmed in a loud tone of voice last night by Leslie J. Ayer, secretary of the Pacific Coast Conference. Hence all the efforts of the volunteer selection committees who have been choosing everybody from Washington and Jefferson to the San Diego Army and Navy Military Academy have gone to waste.
  7. ^ Nittany Lions in Comeback Role PENN STATERS TRIM CARNEGIE; Tech Temp Loses Gruelling Game, 10 to 0; Keystone Eleven Ices Tilt in Second Period; Bezdek's Line-up Shift Big Factor in Victory. Los Angeles Times, November 12, 1922
  8. ^ PENN STATE INVITATION IN EFFECT Rumors Concerning Having Presidents Here New Year's Plain Bunk. Los Angeles Times, November 16, 1922. PORTLAND (Or.) Nov. 15.--Dr. U.D. Duback of Oregon Agricultural College, president of the Pacific Coast conference, today by long distance telephone from Corvallis, emphatically denied rumors that the conference would withdraw its invitation to Penn State to represent the East in the New Year's Day football game at Pasadena, and substitute Washington and Jefferson.
  9. ^ Panthers Flop on Nittany Lions and Tear 'em Badly Laying 'em Away for Dear Old Hahvah. Los Angeles Times, December 1, 1922. "PITTSBURG [sic?] (Pa.) Nov. 30.-- The Pitt Panthers rode roughshod over the Penn State team today and defeated them by a score of 14 to 0, breaking a tie that had existed for two years. Penn State having won the 1920 game by a 29-to-0 score, after which neither side crossed the goal line until today."
  10. ^ U.S.C. OR WASHINGTON TO MEET PENN STATE AT PASADENA NEW YEAR'S TROJANS MAY TACKLE BEZDEK'S CREW IF THEY BEAT STANFORD; U.S.C.-Card Gridiron Struggles Will Serve to Pick the West's Representative TROJANS MAY TACKLE PENN. Los Angeles Times, November 10, 1922. Penn State will meet either the University of Southern California or the University of Washington at Pasadena on New Year's Day. The University of California, twice defender of the honor of the Pacific Coast, has, by the action of the Associated Students in caucus, definitely refused to meet Penn State and act as the representative of the West. Tomorrow's games between U.S.C. and Stanford at Palo Alto and California and Washington at Seattle will probably settle the representative of the West. If California beats Washington worse than 12 to 0, U.S.C. will probably be the representative of the West, unless the Trojans should be humbled by Stanford.
  11. ^ TROJANS WILL REPRESENT WEST IN NEW YEAR'S GAME IS REPORT RESULT OF MAIL VOTE SELECTION OUT MONDAY; Southern California Team Rules Favorite to Hook Up With Penn State The Animal Tamer. Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1922. SEATTLE, Dec. 1.--Instead of a vote by telegraph as was planned for tonight, for the purpose of naming the Conference team to meet Penn State at Pasadena in the annual East vs. West grid classic on New Year's Day, a mail vote will be taken among the members of the Pacific Coast Conference and the result will not be made public until Monday morning. Because of the University of Southern California's overwhelming victory over Washington State at Pasadena and the tie between Oregon and Washington on Thanksgiving Day, it is more than probable that the Trojans will be picked to represent the West.
  12. ^ TROJANS SELECTED TO DEFEND WEST AT PASADENA ON NEW YEAR'S SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHOICE OF CONFERENCE Henderson's Squad Receives Six of Eight Votes Cast for Penn State Game. Los Angeles Times, December 6, 1922. PORTLAND, Dec. 5.--The University of Southern California will defend for the West against Penn State for the East in the New Year's Day East vs. West football game at Pasadena. Selection of Southern California as the Pacific Coast Conference choice was announced tonight by Prof. U.G. Duback of Oregon Agricultural College, president of the conference, shortly after arrival of the Idaho vote, the last to arrive. All votes were mailed to Prof. Duback.
  13. ^ COACH BEZDEK CHANGES TEAM'S STYLE OF PLAY FOR THIRD TIME TROJANS TO TACKLE A REORGANIZED ELEVEN; Nittany Lions to Take Field With Almost a Completely New Bunch of Regulars. Los Angeles Times, December 27, 1922. Hugo "Spinx" Bezdek, commander-in-chief of the Penn State football squad, which is to meet the University of Southern California in the annual East-West Tournament of Roses New Year's Day game, changes the style of his eleven's play almost as much as a woman changes her mind.
  14. ^ a b Penn State football history
  15. ^ Superfan Pellerin Passes Away: Trojan fan's streak ends Saturday at 797 straight games, Associated Press, November 21, 1998, Accessed December 1, 2008.