Photo courtesy of Tournament of Roses
When any college football fan hears the term, “The Granddaddy of Them All” — and for some in a Keith Jackson voice — there is no doubt what that reference is to.
It’s college football’s oldest bowl game and still one its most prestigious — the Rose Bowl. The first Rose Bowl took place in 1902 and since 1916, the contest has been played annually. More often than not, the game is played on New Year’s Day.
There have been 107 Rose Bowls thus far. 105 of them have been played in Pasadena.
Last season due to COVID-19, the contest was moved to Dallas to allow fans to attend. That however, isn’t the only time the contest has been played outside of Pasadena.
The Rose Bowl Heads Southeast
The first 27 Rose Bowl games were played in Pasadena, but after the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor, the notion of large crowds gathering on the West Coast was discouraged. The Rose Bowl committee had moved to cancel the contest and the festivities such as the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Duke and Oregon State were slated to meet in the match-up. Rather than just settling for the cancelation, Duke reached out to its West Coast opponent and the Rose Bowl committee and ultimately, invited the Beavers to Durham. The terms were accepted.
The Blue Devils were champions of the Southern Conference, ranked second in the country and 9-0 on the season. Oregon State had claimed the Pacific Coast Conference — the precursor to the Pac-10 and now Pac-12 — with a 7-2 record. After a 2-2 start, the Beavers closed the regular season on a 5-game winning streak.
One of the larger stadiums in the South, Duke Stadium — now Wallace Wade Stadium — held about 35,000. To be more accommodating however, roughly 20,000 additional bleachers were brought in, which brought the crowd size to about 56,000 on Jan. 1, 1942.
The Beavers made the trip, but not with a full roster. Chiaki “Jack” Yoshihara, an Oregon State player from Japan who arrived in the United State at the age of three, was not available.
At the time, an executive order put in place by Franklin D. Roosevelt forbade Japanese Americans from traveling more than 35 miles from their home. Yoshihara was not allowed to make the trip with his team.
As for the game itself, it did not disappoint.
Duke arrived at its home field as a 14-point favorite, but never held a lead. Oregon State ultimately prevailed, 20-16.
Each of Oregon State’s first two touchdowns were eventually answered by Duke. Donald Durdan’s 15-yard touchdown run served as the only points of the first quarter and gave the Beavers a 7-0 lead after one.
Steve Lach scored from four yards out in the second quarter to knot the score, 7-7. The third quarter would feature three touchdowns.
Bob Dethman threw two touchdown passes for Oregon State in the period. The second half was less than four minutes old when Dethman hit George Zellick for a 31-yard touchdown.
Following Winston Siegfried’s game-tying touchdown run that knotted the score at 14, Dethman put the Beavers ahead for good with a 68-yard touchdown strike to Gene Gray. Midway through the fourth quarter, Duke scored the game’s final points when Durdan was tackled in the end zone on an errant punt snap for the safety.
Each of Duke’s final two possessions reached Oregon State territory, but the Blue Devils were unable to find the end zone. After a Duke fumble inside the Beavers’ 30-yard-line, Dethman preserved the victory by intercepting a desperation heave.
For Oregon State, the 20 points was six more than any team had put up on Duke all season. The Beavers finished with 302 yards of offense with a majority coming through the air. Durdan was named the game’s MVP.
For Oregon State, the victory served as cause for celebration. It was the first and remains the only Rose Bowl victory for the Beavers. The Associated Press called the upset the biggest in Rose Bowl history.
For Yoshihara however, celebrations would be few and far between in the coming years. Forced to listen to the contest on the radio, Yoshihara spent a large portion of 1942 in an internment camp after his efforts to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces were repeatedly denied.
For Duke quarterback Tommy Prothro, the Rose Bowl would serve as his last game as a college football player, but not his last Rose Bowl.
Prothro would go on to coach Oregon State for 10 years from 1955 to 1964 and led the Beavers to two Rose Bowl appearances — both losses. He spent the next six seasons coaching UCLA and in his first campaign, led the Bruins to a 14-12 Rose Bowl victory over national champion Michigan State to cap the 1965 season.
Speaking of UCLA, it is one of just two schools to play the Rose Bowl at its home stadium as the Bruins play their home games in Pasadena. The other, of course, is Duke.