Score by Quarters
Both the Illini and Indians thought they were ready for their close-ups, because this was the first chance they’d have to get close-ups on a national level.
Brought to the nation by NBC, the 1952 Rose Bowl Game marked the first national telecast of a college football game, following by four years the first Los Angeles telecast of a college football game: the 1948 Rose Bowl Game on KTLA. This allowed a national audience to see reigning Olympic decathlon gold medalist Bob Mathias play for Stanford.
Mathias would go on to repeat as Olympic gold medalist in Helsinki, Finland later that summer, making him the first athlete to play in the Rose Bowl Game and compete in the Olympics in the same year. But before then, that national audience would get to see something else equally familiar – another Big Ten blowout in a Rose Bowl Game.
Illinois treated that national TV audience to a 40-7 pole-axing of Mathias and Stanford that would have had people reaching for remotes… if they existed in 1952.
“It seems almost unbelievable as I sit here and watch the Big Ten rooters carrying off the broken-up goal posts, but the game was so tight in the first half that each team, eager to put points on the scoreboard, actually tried a field goal. Both missed,” wrote the Los Angeles Times’ Braven Dyer.
Stanford’s multi-talented athletes, which not only included Mathias, but future Los Angeles Dodger Chuck Essegian, who was one of only two players to hit two pinch-hit home runs in World Series play, managed to take a 7-6 lead at the half behind the passing of Gary Kerkorian.
The Indians’ quarterback gave Stanford the lead by not only driving the Indians 84 yards in 14 plays – with a 6-of-7 passing performance mixed in – but kicking the extra point off Pasadena native Harry Houganian’s 2-yard touchdown.
And thus, was Stanford’s high-water mark of the 1952 Rose Bowl Game.
Midway through the second half, Kerkorian drove Stanford 35 yards to the Illinois 44, when he flung a pass intended for end Bill Storum. Instead, sophomore defensive back Stan Wallace intercepted Kerkorian and returned the gift to the Stanford 15.
That turned the game around. The Illini’s Bill Tate scored on the ensuing possession to give Illinois a 13-7 lead. After Johnny Karras plowed in from the 7 early in the fourth quarter, Tate, who ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns, made it 27-7 early in the fourth, via a 5-yard run. That drive was set up by Wallace’s second interception of the day, this one off backup quarterback Bob Garrett, who replaced Kerkorian after the latter sustained a back injury.
From there, Mathias’ two fourth-quarter touchdowns that sent Stanford past USC and into Pasadena were a distant memory. Illinois tacked on two more touchdowns before the final gun, putting the finishing touches on not only a 27-point fourth quarter, but a game Pacific Coast Conference fans would have been better off blocking from their televisions.
Ill – Bachouros, 6-yard run (Rebecca kick missed)
Stan – Hugasian, 1-yard run (Kerkorian kick good)
Ill – Tate, 5-yard run (Rebecca kick good)
Ill – Karras, 7-yard run (Rebecca kick good)
Ill – Tate, 8-yard run (Rebecca kick good)
Ill – Stevens, 7-yard run (kick blocked)
Ill – Ryan, 6-yard pass from Engels (Rebecca kick good)
Stanford: Chuck Taylor
Illinois: Ray Eliot
In 1952, legendary New York Yankees’ broadcaster Mel Allen announced the first nationally televised college football Bowl game.
Ill: Bachouras 15-86; Tate 20-150; Karras 13-58; DeMoss 1-45
Stan: Hugasian 14-41; Kerkorian 7-11; R. Cook 5-14
Ill: O’Connell 6-14-67; Engels 1-1-6
Stan: Kerkorian 11-22-166; Garrett 3-7-14
Ill: Bachouros 3-36; R. Smith 1-12; Karras 1-16
Stan: McColl 4-62; Hugasian 4-49; Mathias 2-42; Cook 2-18
Ill: Miller 2-101
Stan: Horn 6-182