Score by Quarters
Like the national championships the Rose Bowl has hosted throughout the years, and, more recently, as a part of the Bowl Championship Series, the 1932 Rose Bowl Game was a matchup of the two premier teams in the nation.
Tulane was 10-0 and widely recognized as the No. 1 team in the nation. USC, after losing its opener, won its nine remaining games, but it’s not that the Trojans won those last nine; it’s how they won them. USC posted six shutouts and thrashed Washington 44-7 and Georgia 60-0 in its last two games of the season.
“Tulane brings to California one of the finest teams ever seen on Rose Bowl turf, one that is superbly coached and one that goes down battling with all the inspiring traditional fighting spirit of the Old South,” wrote Rose Bowl historian Maxwell Stiles. “It is a team that comes along once in a generation.
“But the Southern California team that takes the field to meet it is a team that comes along once in an era. It is the greatest eleven ever coached by Howard Harding Jones. I believe that with the possible exceptions of the Michigan `Point A Minute’ team of the 1902 game and Alabama’s Howell-to-Hutson passing combination, this Southern California eleven of 1931 probably could have beaten any that ever played a Rose Bowl Game.”
Fortunately for them – and possibly for the 1902 and 1935 teams mentioned – USC only had to beat the Tulane Green Wave on this New Year’s Day in 1932. And it did. The Trojans scored 21 points to start the scoring and held on during a late Tulane charge to win, 21-12, and capture the mythical national championship.
It might have been partly due to Tulane back Don Zimmerman’s googly-eyes – he had met movie star Mary Brian after arriving in Pasadena, gave her prime tickets to the game and repeatedly fumbled while in Brian’s apparently inescapable gaze. Regardless, USC mounted an insurmountable charge.
First, the Trojans took over after – guess what – a Zimmerman fumble in their own end. Then, Gus Shaver and Orv Mohler ticked off yardages until they reached the Tulane 5-yard line. Ray Sparling took it in from there: 7-0, Troy.
Then Ernie Pinckert earned his place in Trojan history – he ripped off two unorthodox double wing back reverses for touchdowns of 30 and 23 yards to make it 21-0, USC.
However, Tulane wasn’t done. The Green Wave mustered 12 second-half points while shutting down the Trojans. They were on their way to a third before time ran out.
“Trailing 21 to 0 and with the prospect of a rout staring them in the face, a belligerent band of Tulane players lived up to all the fine things their supporters had said of them and sent the huge throng of more than 84,000 souls home with the knowledge that Southern California had beaten a great football team,” wrote Braven Dyer of the Los Angeles Times.
In fact, Tulane out-gained USC, 319-211, and had 17 first downs to USC’s seven. However, the Trojans scored when they needed to, and Tulane simply had too many turnovers. Six players on that USC team were named All-Americans at some point in their careers.
USC – Sparling, 5-yard run (Baker kick good)
USC – Pinckert, 30-yard run (Baker kick good)
USC – Pinckert, 23-yard run (Baker kick good)
Tul – Haynes, 15-yard pass from Zimmerman (Zimmerman kick failed)
Tul – Glover, 2-yard run (Point after failed)
USC: Howard Jones
Tulane: Bernie Bierman
Tulane captain Jerry Dalrymple wore a special pad during the game to protect an injured kidney. In the name of sportsmanship, when Dalrymple took a timeout to adjust the pad, USC captain Stan Williamson told the referee to allow him as much time as he needed.
USC: Shaver 15-76; Pinckert 5-66; Sparling 4-28
Tul: Glover 13-120; Zimmerman 21-65; Payne 9-48; Felts 7-32