The 1947 Rose Bowl
was a college football bowl game
. It was the 33rd Rose Bowl Game
. The Illinois Fighting Illini
defeated the UCLA Bruins
45-14. Illinois halfbacks Claude "Buddy" Young
and Julius Rykovich
shared the Rose Bowl Player Of The Game award. They were named the Rose Bowl Players Of The Game when the award was created in 1953 and selections were made retroactively. It was the first Rose Bowl game that featured teams from the Pacific Coast Conference
and the Big Nine Conference
by the terms of a five-year agreement. It is known as the first "modern" Rose Bowl, and the modern Rose Bowl records date back to this game. This exclusive agreement remained in place until the 1999 Rose Bowl
when the Rose Bowl became part of the Bowl Championship Series
Big Nine-PCC agreement
At the beginning, the Rose Bowl game was intended to match a West Coast team against the best of the nation. The first team to appear was Michigan in the 1902 Rose Bowl
when they defeated Stanford 49-0. The Rose Bowl began to be hosted by the Pacific Coast Conference when it was revived in the 1916 Rose Bowl
, and permanently with the 1920 Rose Bowl
. Ohio State was the next Big Ten team to participate what they lost to California 28-0 in the 1921 Rose Bowl
. The Big Ten did not participate in bowl games following that game. The University of Chicago
discontinued its football program in 1939 and withdrew from the conference in 1946, leaving the Big Nine Conference.
During World War II, many college football schools had dropped some conference opponents and instead played football against local military base teams. Many colleges could not even field teams due to the draft and manpower requirements. After the war was over, demobilization and the G.I. Bill enabled returning servicemen to attend college. The 1946 season was the first true post-war college football season with travel restrictions lifted and civilian college opponents returning to schedules.
The Big Nine agreed, after much negotiating over payments, rules, and ticket allocations to a five-year exclusive deal with the Rose Bowl to send the conference champion to meet the PCC conference champion. UCLA, USC, Minnesota and Illinois all voted against it. UCLA, the PCC conference champion, expressed interest in playing either Army or Notre Dame, who had played to a scoreless tie in the 1946 Army vs. Notre Dame football game.
The Big Nine and PCC were of the same accord when it came to treating players as amateurs, as compared to the semi-professional status that the Southern Universities proposed. Also, the Big Nine and PCC both had the same attitudes towards desegregation and allowing African-Americans to play football. Many other universities were still segregated. None of the Southeastern Conference schools had an African American athlete until 1966. The Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl would not be integrated until 1948, 1955, and 1956 respectively.
The UCLA Bruins had last appeared in the 1943 Rose Bowl
where they were held scoreless against Georgia. The Bruins fielded the strongest team in their history to date. It was the second undefeated team since the 1939 6-0-4 team, and the first undefeated and untied team in school history. After convincing wins over Oregon State and at Washington, UCLA entered the AP poll at number 5. The Bruins would go to number four after defeating #17 Stanford 26-6. Coming into the November 23, 1946 UCLA-USC rivalry
football game, the Rose Bowl was on the line for both USC and UCLA. UCLA prevailed 13-6 to win the PCC. In the Bruins final game of the regular season, the Bruins blanked the Nebraska Cornhuskers 18-0.
Illinois Fighting Illini
This was the first appearance for the Fighting Illini in any post-season football game. The Illini opened the season winning at Pittsburgh 33-7. They lost to Notre Dame in the first game for the 1946 Fighting Irish, a team that would eventually play in the 1946 Game of the Century
against Army. The Illini beat Purdue, but then lost to Indiana. The Illini would go on to win the rest of their games including 13-9 at Michigan and a 16-7 win over Ohio State. In the final regular season game, they blanked in-state rival Northwestern 20-0. The win over Michigan proved to be the pivotal game as Michigan finished 5-1-1 in conference to Illinois 6-1 record.
The UCLA Bruins scored their first ever post-season points when Ernie Case scored on a quarterback sneak to give the Bruins a 7-6 first-quarter lead. However, it was the fourth-ranked Illini who took control after that, outscoring UCLA 39-7. Illinois dominated the Bruins on the ground, compiling 320 yards to the Bruins 62.
A number of records were set in the game. Illinois set two new Rose bowl records: Most first downs at 28 (the previous first down record was 22, set against UCLA by Georgia in the 1943 Rose Bowl), and Most yards gained by rushing at 320 (the previous record for yards rushing was Oregon's 298 against Harvard in the 1920 Rose Bowl. Six different Illinois players scored touchdowns. These were broken in later years.
UCLA's Al Hoisch returned Illinois kicker Don Maechtle’s kickoff 103 yards, establishing a Rose Bowl and UCLA team record which still stands as of the 2008 Rose Bowl. Hoisch also still holds the modern Rose Bowl record for Highest average Gain Per Return at 44.5 yards. The eight kickoff returns made by the Bruins also are a Rose Bowl record.
Illinois' Russell Steger set modern Rose Bowl records for both Most Yards on Interception returns and Longest Interception return for a touchdown with a 68 yard return that scored in the fourth quarter. Elmer Leyden holds the records set in the 1925 Rose Bowl.
- Illinois - Julius Rykovich, one-yard run. Kick failed.
- UCLA - Ernie Case, one-yard quarter back sneak. Case converts.
- Illinois - Buddy Young, two-yard run. Don Maechtle converts.
- Illinois - Paul Patterson four-yard run. Kick failed.
- Illinois - Perry Moss one-yard sneak. Kick blocked.
- UCLA - Al Hoisch returns Maechtle’s kickoff 103 yards. Case converts.
- Illinois - Young, one-yard run. Maechtle converts.
- Illinois - Ruck Steger, 68 yard interception return. Kick failed.
- Illinois - Stan Green, 20 yard interception return. Maechtle converts.
Six modern Rose Bowl records still stand as of the 2008 Rose Bowl
. Buddy Young and Julius Rykovich were named co-Most valuable players when the Rose Bowl introduced the award in 1953 and then retroactively applied the award to previous games. They were inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall Of Fame in 1993. Al Hoisch was inducted in 1999.
The Big Ten dominated early in the Rose Bowl Series, winning 12 of the first 13. The tide would begin turn to the West coast teams with the 1960 Rose Bowl.
UCLA and Illinois would have a re-match in the 1984 Rose Bowl with UCLA winning 45-9 in a reverse of the 1947 game, where Illinois was favored and wanted a better opponent.
The exclusive agreement remained in place until the 1999 Rose Bowl when the Rose Bowl became part of the Bowl Championship Series. The Pacific Ten Conference inherited the PCC representative position for the game. Even after 1998, the Rose Bowl would still attempt to pair a Big Ten and PAC-10 team. The 2008 Rose Bowl would feature USC vs. Illinois.
- UCLA Football media guide (PDF copy available at www.uclabruins.com)
- University of Illinois Football media information (available at www.fightingillini.com)
- Big Ten Conference Football Media guide (PDF copy available at bigten.cstv.com)
- College Football Historical Society Volume XIII Issue IV August 2000, Article:Ray Eliot's First 10, pages 21-24.
- Little Champ Time Magazine December 2, 1946. quote:The New Year's Day Rose Bowl rivals were chosen last week-and nobody was very happy about the choice. The Big Nine, who for 25 years have kept their fingers out of all Bowls, signed a contract with the Pacific Coast Conference which promised that, for the next three years, the westerners must play the Big Nine champ, and nobody else. Unbeaten U.C.L.A. beat its deadliest rival and Los Angeles neighbor, U.S.C., last week (13-6), and will represent the West. Twice-beaten Illinois defeated Northwestern 20-0, and will presumably represent the East. That left Army's far superior team-which wanted to play in the Rose Bowl-out in the cold, cold air. Said U.C.L.A.'s All-America prospect, End Burr Baldwin: "We would have been glad to hitchhike to West Point to play the cadets."