1966 Rose Bowl
52nd Rose Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
University of California, Los Angeles 0 14 0 0 14
Michigan State University 0 0 0 12 12
Date January 1, 1966
Season 1965
Stadium Rose Bowl
Location Pasadena, California
MVP Bob Stiles
Favorite Michigan State by 14
National anthem UCLA Band
Halftime show UCLA Band, Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band
Attendance 100,087
United States TV coverage
Network NBC
Announcers: Lindsey Nelson, Terry Brennan
Rose Bowl
 < 1965  1967

The 1966 Rose Bowl, played on January 1, 1966 was the 52nd Rose Bowl Game. The UCLA Bruins defeated the #1 ranked Michigan State Spartans by a score of 14–12. UCLA defensive back Bob Stiles was named the Rose Bowl Player Of The Game.[1]


The game was a rematch of the season opener in East Lansing, Michigan that Michigan State won, 13–3. Unknown 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 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, the 1954 Rose Bowl and 1956 Rose Bowl.

Michigan State SpartansEdit

Michigan State was undefeated and ranked #1 in the nation. 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 Bubba Smith and George Webster.

UCLA BruinsEdit

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 1965 UCLA–USC rivalry football game ranked #7, the conference championship and 1966 Rose Bowl were on the line. #6-ranked USC, 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 2-point conversion made it 16–14, UCLA recovered an onside kick. Beban then hit Kurt Altenberg on a 50-yard bomb and UCLA won, 20–16.[2][3][4][5] Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray did not like the Bruins chances.[6]

UCLA then faced Tennessee in the newly built Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee, Prothro's native city. On the last play of a wild game, Tennessee defensive back Bob Petrella intercepted a UCLA pass to save a Volunteer win by a score of 37–34. Coach Prothro, was uncharacteristically upset. He criticized a pass interference call, 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."[7]

The 1965 team was nicknamed the "Gutty little Bruins" as the defensive line was small with John Richardson at 225 pounds, Steve Butler at 220, and 200-pound defensive tackles Al Claman and Terry Donahue.[8]

Game summaryEdit

The weather was sunny and 65 degrees. Michigan State was a two touchdown favorite and the consensus #1 ranked team, but the undersized Bruins held their own through a scoreless first quarter. In the second quarter, UCLA recovered a muffed punt inside the Michigan State 5-yard line. Quarterback Gary Beban eventually took it in from one yard out to give the Bruins a surprising lead over the stunned Spartans. Then UCLA coach Tommy Prothro went into his bag of tricks and called for an onside kick. Kicker Kurt Zimmerman executed it perfecty and Dallas Grider fell on the ball. Beban then threaded a pass between three Spartan defenders to Kurt Altenberg, who made a great catch that put UCLA on the 1-yard line. Beban then scored on a short run to make it 14–0. UCLA's undersized defense continued to play well, but the larger Spartans were beginning to wear them down and began picking up bigger and bigger chunks of yardage on the ground. Midway through the 4th quarter, Michigan State finally broke through for a touchdown, but failed on the try for a 2-point conversion and UCLA led 14–6. Michigan State got the ball back and began to march down field in the waning moments. With under a minute to play the Spartans scored again, and trailing 14–12, lined up for a two point conversion attempt. They pitched out to their large Samoan fullback Bob Apisa, and as he turned the corner, it appeared he would fall into the end zone to tie the game. But UCLA defensive back Bob Stiles ran full speed and threw himself into Apisa. Although Apisa knocked Stiles unconscious, Stiles' sacrifice kept Apisa out of the end zone.[9][10][11]


Second quarterEdit

  • UCLA — Gary Beban, 1-yard run. Kurt Zimmerman converts.
  • UCLA — Beban, 1-yard run. Zimmerman converts.

Fourth quarterEdit

  • MSU — Bob Apisa, 38-yard run. Jimmy Raye’s pass failed.
  • MSU — Juday, 1-yard run. Apisa run failed.


Back in 1966, the final UPI poll was taken before the bowl games so Michigan State retained its #1 ranking in the UPI. Alabama, led by quarterback Steve Sloan and with a record of 8–1–1, handed undefeated and #2 ranked Nebraska a 39–28 loss in the Orange Bowl; the Crimson Tide was then voted #1 in the AP. UCLA ended up ranked #4 AP, #5 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 UCLA-USC rivalry game to get to the Rose Bowl ranked #35.[12]

Prothro would never be able to bring the Bruins to the Rose Bowl again. In 1966, the USC Trojans were voted in ahead of the Bruins despite UCLA's 14–7 win over USC. In the 1967 USC vs. UCLA football game, a spectacular run by O.J. Simpson would give USC the bid and the National Championship. In the 1969 USC-UCLA football game, a battle of undefeated teams, USC would again prevail, 14–12.

Kurt Altenberg died in 2005.[13]

Game factsEdit

  • Future UCLA head coach Terry Donahue was a 195 pound defensive lineman for UCLA.
  • Dallas Grider, who recovered the 2nd quarter onside kick that led to UCLA's second touchdown in the Rose Bowl, also recovered the onside kick in the UCLA - USC game that led to the Bruins' winning touchdown.
  • Tommy Prothro became the first coach to take two different schools to the Rose Bowl, and he did it in successive seasons. Prothro guided Oregon State to the 1965 Rose Bowl. It was also Prothro's last Rose Bowl appearance. The AAWU conference voted 7–3 USC (a team 9–1 UCLA had beaten 14–7) in over the Bruins in 1966.
  • Prothro was a quarterback for Duke University in the 1942 Rose Bowl.
  • This was UCLA's first Rose Bowl win after five losses. It was Michigan State's first loss after two wins, both over UCLA.
  • This game began a streak of West Coast dominance in the Rose Bowl as Pac-8/Pac-10 teams would win all but four of the next 22 Rose Bowls, often as the underdog.
  • Both teams wore their home color uniforms, Michigan State in green jerseys, and UCLA in powder blue jerseys.


  • UCLA Football Media Guide (PDF Copy available at
  • Football's Bowl Week. Sports Illustrated, January 10, 1966 Volume 24, Issue 2

See alsoEdit


  1. 2008 Rose Bowl Program, 2008 Rose Bowl. Accessed January 26, 2008.
  2. UCLA Athletics: 1964-1965
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. John Shearer - Memories: 1965 UT Football Team, Coach Bill Majors. The Chattanoogan, December 5, 2005
  8. Stewart, Larry - For Pete’s Sake, Don’t Paint Town Cardinal. Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2003.
  9. Al Wolf - Bruin Crowd Brimming With Joy...It's 'Everybody's Win'. Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, California. January 2, 1966
  10. Larry Sharkey; Ben Olender; Joe Kennedy - Bruins Perform Surgery on Spartans' Line. Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, California. January 2, 1966
  11. Bruins Won It Easily. Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, California. January 2, 1966
  12. L.A.'s greatest moments 100 greatest #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.
  13. White, Lonnie - Kurt Altenberg, 61; Ex-Bruin’s Touchdown Beat USC in 1965. Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2005

External linksEdit

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