1966 Rose Bowl
52nd Rose Bowl Game
1234 Total
UCLA 01400 14
Michigan State 00012 12
DateJanuary 1, 1966
StadiumRose Bowl
LocationPasadena, California
MVPBob Stiles (UCLA DB)
FavoriteMichigan State
by 14 points[1]
National anthemUCLA Band
RefereeHoward Wirtz (Big Ten;
split crew: Big Ten, AAWU)
Halftime showUCLA Band,
Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersLindsey Nelson,
Terry Brennan
Rose Bowl
 < 1965  1967

The 1966 Rose Bowl was the 52nd edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Saturday, January 1. The fifth-ranked UCLA Bruins of the AAWU (Pac-8) upset the undefeated and top-ranked Michigan State Spartans of the Big Ten Conference, 14–12.[2][3][4] UCLA defensive back Bob Stiles, a junior college transfer,[4] was named the Player of the Game.[5]


See also: 1965 NCAA University Division football season

The game was a rematch of the season opener in East Lansing that Michigan State won, 13–3. Unknown UCLA quarterback Gary Beban had a long touchdown pass play nullified by a penalty in that game. As it turned out, UCLA gave MSU one of its toughest games of the season in its home opener, a fact that was apparently forgotten when the 14-point odds came out favoring MSU for the Rose Bowl re-match. The two previous meetings also were won by Michigan State in January 1954 and 1956.

Michigan State Spartans

See also: 1965 Michigan State Spartans football team

Michigan State was undefeated and winner of the AFCA National Championship Trophy given to the team ranked #1 in the nation in early December, after the regular season, but before postseason bowl games. Regular season opponents Michigan (-51), Ohio State (-22), and Notre Dame (-12) each had negative yards rushing. Their key victory was a 32–7 win over Ohio State that ultimately decided the Big Ten Conference title as the Spartans finished one game ahead of the Buckeyes.

The Spartans featured future College Football Hall of Fame members split end Gene Washington, defensive end Charles "Bubba" Smith, roverback George "Mickey" Webster, and halfback Clint Jones. Webster is credited with creating the roverback position.[6] In the first round of the 1967 NFL/AFL Draft, the first overall pick was Smith by the Baltimore Colts, the second was Jones by the Minnesota Vikings, the fifth was Webster by the Houston Oilers, and the eighth pick was Washington, also by the Minnesota Vikings. They were the first group of four African-American members of the college football hall of fame from the same class.[7] Smith was a defensive end and Webster was a safety on Sports Illustrated's NCAA football all-century team in 1999. In the second round of the 1966 NFL Draft, Harold Lucas was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals.

UCLA Bruins

See also: 1965 UCLA Bruins football team

UCLA lost the season opener at Michigan State 13–3, upset highly regarded Syracuse and Penn State, tied at Missouri 14–14, then won four straight. Going into the rivalry game against USC on November 20, UCLA was ranked seventh, with the conference championship and Rose Bowl were on the line. The sixth-ranked Trojans, led by Heisman trophy winner Mike Garrett led 16–6 until UCLA got a touchdown on a pass from Gary Beban to Dick Witcher with four minutes to play. After the two-point conversion made it 16–14, UCLA recovered an onside kick. Beban then hit Kurt Altenberg on a fifty-yard bomb and UCLA won, 20–16.[8][9][10][11] Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray did not like the Bruins chances.[12]

UCLA then faced Tennessee on December 4 in the new Liberty Bowl in Memphis,[13] the native city of UCLA head coach Tommy Prothro. On the last play of a wild game, defensive back Bob Petrella intercepted a UCLA pass to save a 37–34 Volunteer win. Prothro was uncharacteristically upset. He criticized a pass interference penalty, a phantom holding call on end Byron Nelson that nullified a key UCLA play, claimed that the clock had been wrongly stopped twice on Tennessee's winning drive, and said that a dropped pass was a lateral and a fumble. He stated, "For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be a Southerner."[14]

The 1965 team was nicknamed the "Gutty little Bruins" as the defensive line was small with John Richardson at 225 pounds (102 kg), Steve Butler at 220 lb (100 kg), and 200-pound (91 kg) defensive tackles Al Claman and Terry Donahue.[15] By comparison, the Spartan defensive line included middle guard Harold Lucas who weighed 286-pound (130 kg) and Bubba Smith who was 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) and 265 lb (120 kg). Even Michigan State roverback Webster weighed as much as the heaviest UCLA defensive lineman at 225 lb (102 kg).

Game summary

New Year's Day was on Saturday in 1966, and the Pasadena weather was sunny and 65 °F (18 °C). Michigan State was a two-touchdown favorite,[1] and the consensus #1 ranked team, but the undersized Bruins held their own through a scoreless first quarter – even after future Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award winner Gary Beban ran 27 yards on the Bruins first play from scrimmage. Sophomore Beban surprised Michigan State's defense with a head fake quarterback off-guard run reminiscent of an old single-wing formation tailback off-tackle run play. Beban ran a similar play two years before at Sequoia High School where he was an All America candidate. At the time, he spoke of wanting to playing for Notre Dame but was disappointed that he didn't get a scholarship. UCLA end Byron Nelson stripped the ball from punt returner Don Japinga, co-captain of the Spartans, and center John Erquiaga of UCLA recovered at the Michigan State six-yard line. Beban carried the ball around left end on a quarterback keeper and was stopped at the one by Webster as the quarter ended.

On the first play of the second quarter, Beban took it in from one yard out on a quarterback sneak to give the Bruins a surprising lead over the stunned Spartans. Then Prothro went into his bag of tricks and called for an onside kick. Kicker Kurt Zimmerman executed it perfectly and linebacker Dallas Grider fell on the ball. Halfback Mel Farr ran for 21 yards to the Spartan 22. In preparation for the game, UCLA assistant coach Pepper Rodgers had designed a formation called shadow set, in which wide receivers Altenberg and Witcher lined up one behind the other .[16] From the shadow set, Beban then called the pass play "Michigan spread left post", and threaded a pass between three Spartan defenders to Kurt Altenberg, who made a great catch that put UCLA on the one yard-line. Beban then scored on a short run to make it 14–0. Later in the second quarter, the Spartans drove deep into UCLA territory led by quarterback and co-captain Steve Juday. Their drive was stopped by a fumble during a quarterback scramble. Juday, even though untouched by any UCLA tackler, lost control of the football and UCLA co-captain and defensive end Jim Colletto recovered at the UCLA 19 .[17] Another drive came up empty when just before the half, Dick Kenney, the Spartan barefoot kicker from Hawaii, missed a field goal from the 23-yard line.

UCLA's undersized defense continued to play well in the third quarter, but the larger Spartans were beginning to wear them down and began picking up bigger and bigger chunks of yardage on the ground.

With just over six minutes remaining, Michigan State began a drive from their own 20-yard line. Juday passed to Gene Washington for 42 yards to the UCLA 38. They finally broke through for a touchdown when their large Samoan fullback Bob Apisa took a lateral from sophomore quarterback Jimmy Raye and scored on a 38-yard run. On the point after, Michigan State faked the kick and went for a two-point conversion. Pressured by UCLA defensive end Jerry Klein, Juday's [18] pass failed and UCLA led 14–6. Michigan State got the ball back at the UCLA 49 after Bubba Smith partly blocked a punt by UCLA punter Larry Cox. The Spartans began to march down field in the waning moments, switching on this drive to a two-quarterback system. They alternated Juday and Raye with Daugherty sending in the plays. Three times in this final drive the Spartans went for it on fourth down and picked up the first down. A pass to fullback Eddie Cotton brought the ball to the one-yard line. With thirty-one seconds to play, Juday scored on a quarterback sneak. Trailing 14–12, Daughterty had the Spartans line up on the left hash mark for a two-point conversion attempt. On a play called "option pitch", Raye tossed the football to the sophomore Apisa who ran to the right, and as he turned the corner, it appeared he would fall into the end zone to tie the game. (This would not have resulted in overtime; tie games until the 1996 season) But Apisa was forced by Colletto to run parallel to the goal line. Then Apisa was slowed down by Grider. Finally, Stiles ran full speed and threw himself into Apisa. Although Apisa knocked Stiles unconscious, Stiles' sacrifice kept Apisa out of the end zone.[19][20][21] The Spartans then tried an onside kick but UCLA recovered.

"We fell victim to the distractions," Juday later said at a 2015 reunion.[22]


First quarter

No scoring

Second quarter

Third quarter

No scoring

Fourth quarter


Team Stats       UCLA       Michigan St.
First Downs 10 13
Net Yards Rushing 65 204
Net Yards Passing 147 110
Total Yards 212 314
PC–PA–Int. 8–20–0 8–22–3
Punts–Avg. 11–39.9 5–42.4
Fumbles–Lost 3–2 3–2
Penalties–Yards 9–86 1–14


Until the 1974 season, the final UPI Coaches' poll was taken after the regular season but before the bowl games, so Michigan State retained its top ranking in the UPI. The AP took its first-ever post-bowl vote this season. Earlier in the day, second-ranked Arkansas was upset by LSU in the Cotton Bowl. In the final major bowl that night, Alabama, ranked fourth with a record of 8–1–1 and led by quarterback Steve Sloan, handed undefeated and third-ranked Nebraska a 39–28 loss in the Orange Bowl. The Crimson Tide was voted first in the AP poll with Michigan State falling to second; UCLA ended up ranked fourth in AP, fifth in UPI.

In a 1995 vote of the greatest moments in Los Angeles sports history, Bob Stiles' stop of Bob Apisa on the goal line ranked #26. The defeat of USC in the rivalry game to get to the Rose Bowl ranked #35.[23]

It was Prothro's second straight Rose Bowl, but also his last, as rival USC went to the next four. In 1966, the Trojans were voted in ahead of the Bruins despite UCLA's 14–7 win over USC. In 1967, a spectacular run by O. J. Simpson gave USC the bid and the national championship. In the 1969 game, a battle of undefeated teams, USC again prevailed, 14–12.

Kurt Altenberg died in 2005.[24] The 1965 Bruins were honored as co-captains in 2015 on October 31 (against Cal), as part of the 50th anniversary celebration.

Game facts


  • 20 Years Ago Today, It Was the Mouse That Roared, Not the Lion : UCLA Pulled Off Perhaps the Biggest Upset in Rose Bowl History, Beating Michigan St. - Page 3 - latimes* [2]
  • A night at the bar with Michigan State's 1965 football legends [3]
  • CHFS Famous Upsets (PDF Copy available at [4] Archived 2016-09-11 at the Wayback Machine)
  • College Football's Most Memorable Games, 2d ed.[5]
  • Football's Bowl Week. Sports Illustrated, January 10, 1966, Volume 24, Issue 2 [6]
  • Gary Beban Helped UCLA Make History 50 Years Ago [7]
  • "Gutty Little Bruins" Rise Up [8]
  • Michigan State battles UCLA In Rose Bowl Today [9]
  • Michigan State Football: They are Spartans [10]
  • Michigan State Welcomes 1965-66 Teams Back to Campus for 50-Year Reunion - Michigan State Official Athletic Site [11] Archived 2017-03-26 at the Wayback Machine
  • Shanahan, Tom (2014). Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the Integration of College Football, and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. August Publications. ISBN 978-1938532191.
  • Roots '66 [12]
  • ROSE BOWL 1966 - Stock Footage [13]
  • Rose Bowl Game Media Guide Available Online - Michigan State Official Athletic Site [14] Archived 2017-01-08 at the Wayback Machine
  • Rose Bowl History 1966 [15]
  • Sports Illustrated Team of the Century [16]
  • They may have been gutty, but UCLA's 1966 Rose Bowl team was also gritty [17]
  • UCLA Football Media Guide (PDF Copy available at www.uclabruins.com)
  • UCLA Shocks Michigan State 14-12 [18]
  • USA Today College Football Encyclopedia [19]

See also


  1. ^ a b December 31, 1965. "Sunshine cheers Rose Bowl foes". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. p. 8.
  2. ^ "UCLA Bruins drop 'Beban bomb'". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 2, 1966. p. 1, sports.
  3. ^ Uhrhammer, Jerry (January 2, 1966). "UCLA beats Spartans (and the experts), 14–12". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1B.
  4. ^ a b "Football's bowl week". Sports Illustrated. January 10, 1966. p. 32.
  5. ^ 2008 Rose Bowl Program Archived 2008-03-06 at the Wayback Machine, 2008 Rose Bowl. Accessed January 26, 2008.
  6. ^ Travers, Steven (16 October 2009). Pigskin Warriors. Taylor Trade Publications. p. 143. ISBN 9781589794580. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  7. ^ "LOOKING BACK AT THE GAME CHANGING 1965 SPARTAN FOOTBALL QUARTET". alumni.msu.edu. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  8. ^ UCLA Athletics: 1964–1965 Archived 2008-06-17 at the Wayback Machine UCLA.edu
  9. ^ Lonnie White. Grider made big plays for Bruins - Los Angeles Times. November 28, 2007. Linebacker (Dallas Grider) came up with a big hit and recovery of onside kick to help UCLA rally in 1965
  10. ^ Wolf, Al - Altenberg Was 'Decoy' on Winning TD Pass. Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1965. One of the new plays UCLA put in for Saturday's Rose Bowl decider with USC was a pass in which Mel Farr was the intended receiver and Kurt Altenberg a deep decoy and secondary target.
  11. ^ Zimmerman, Paul - BEBAN PULLS THE TRIGGER, AND PRESTO!... ...Prothro's in the Rose Bowl Again It's Bombs Away! Bruins Win, 20-16. Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1965. Like a badly mauled fighter getting up off the floor, UCLA's fantastic football team came from behind to defeat USC 20 to 16 before 94,085 unbelieving fans at Memorial Coliseum Saturday.
  12. ^ Murray, Jim - Roses... and Thorns. Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1965 A terrible thing happened to the UCLA Bruins in the Coliseum Saturday afternoon. They won the right to go to the Rose Bowl—an invitation to bleed. Shows you what trouble a couple of simple mistakes can get you.
  13. ^ "Soph QB piles up records as Volunteers edge UCLA". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 5, 1966. p. 1, sports.
  14. ^ John Shearer - Memories: 1965 UT Football Team, Coach Bill Majors Archived 2009-10-06 at the Wayback Machine. The Chattanoogan, December 5, 2005
  15. ^ Stewart, Larry - For Pete’s Sake, Don’t Paint Town Cardinal. Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2003.
  16. ^ Football's Bowl Week. Sports Illustrated, January 10, 1966 Volume 24, Issue 2 [1]
  17. ^ UCLA Shocks Michigan State 14-12
  18. ^ a b UCLA Football Media Guide (PDF Copy available at www.uclabruins.com
  19. ^ Al Wolf – Bruin Crowd Brimming With Joy...It's 'Everybody's Win'. Los Angeles Times – Los Angeles, California. January 2, 1966
  20. ^ Larry Sharkey; Ben Olender; Joe Kennedy – Bruins Perform Surgery on Spartans' Line. Los Angeles Times – Los Angeles, California. January 2, 1966
  21. ^ Bruins Won It Easily. Los Angeles Times – Los Angeles, California. January 2, 1966
  22. ^ "A night at the bar with Michigan State's 1965 football legends". freep.com. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  23. ^ L.A.'s greatest moments 100 greatest Archived 2008-01-23 at the Wayback Machine #26 1966: Heavy underdog UCLA outlasts Michigan State in the Rose Bowl, 14–12, as 175-pound Bruin defensive back Bob Stiles stops 212-pound MSU fullback Bob Apisa on the goal line on a last-minute two-point conversion try. #35 1965: Bruin sophomore Gary Beban heaves fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Dick Witcher and Kurt Altenberg to stun USC and Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett, 20–16.
  24. ^ White, Lonnie – Kurt Altenberg, 61; Ex-Bruin’s Touchdown Beat USC in 1965. Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2005