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20 Years Ago Today, It Was the Mouse That Roared, Not the Lion : UCLA Pulled Off Perhaps the Biggest Upset in Rose Bowl History, Beating Michigan St.

January 01, 1986|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

"I've seen Iowa a lot, since I live in the Midwest," he said. "Iowa has a fine, fine football team, but I think UCLA has more team speed and that's what's going to win the game. Iowa has exceptional players, but three players are not going to win a football game."

Prothro, who was known for trying the unorthodox, kept Michigan State off balance with trick plays and onside kickoffs. He put in a tackle eligible pass for the Rose Bowl and it resulted in a 35-yard catch by Larry Slagle.

But the Bruins also got a little luck.

UCLA was stopped at the Michigan State 47-yard line after Stiles' first interception had given them the ball.

UCLA right end Byron Nelson forced a fumble by Michigan State co-captain Don Japinga on the ensuing punt, however, and Bruin backup center John Erquiaga recovered at the Michigan State six-yard line as the first quarter ended. Beban scored on the first play of the second quarter.

UCLA, which had used an onside kick to beat USC, used it again against Michigan State and Grider fell on the ball at the 42-yard line.

"One thing we did was onside kick after we got our first touchdown and it surprised them," Prothro recalled. "We got a fine kick from (Kurt) Zimmerman that just went 11 yards right on the hash mark. We scored 14 points before they got their hands on the ball."

After the recovery, Farr ran for 21 yards through the middle of the line. Beban then threw a 27-yard pass to Altenberg at the one-yard line. Altenberg made a great catch with two defenders on him.

John McKay, then the coach at USC, in an analysis of the game in The Times, called Altenberg's catch the key play of the game. Beban scored on the next play.

Beban said: "Both touchdowns were relatively short runs and there were two critical plays in each situation--one a pass that Kurt Altenberg caught and the other one was the fumbled punt."

Prothro, still recalls the Rose Bowl as if it were yesterday instead of 20 years ago.

"I remember a lot about it, but I don't remember the first time we played them quite as well as I do the Rose Bowl," he said.

"We played Michigan State back there in the first game of the season. We were down 7-3 late in the game and we completed a long pass down to the seven-yard line. But it was called back. It was about a 70-yard pass. The game back there wound up 13-3. It was a lot closer than that. If we hadn't gotten that penalty we would have won that game.

"Michigan State improved a lot and they got a lot of publicity. But we improved too. We played Missouri, which won the Sugar Bowl, and Tennessee, Syracuse and USC, who were in the top 10. I felt we had a good chance to win. They were a lot bigger than we were, but we were a lot quicker.

"They probably were a lot better but we had two great offensive players in Beban and Farr. We gambled a lot in short yardage situations. I think we stopped them an awful lot on third and one and fourth and one.

"Actually, I don't think it was a great win for us and I don't think it was as close as it was. We were ahead, 14-0, and just about set up for another score. But Beban fumbled when nobody touched him."

"They got a couple of breaks to get the first touchdown but they earned the second one," Prothro said.

"We didn't know where they were going on the two-point conversion, but we knew who was going to carry it.

"Two people hit Apisa. One was Stiles and the other was Dallas Grider. When you look at the film Grider hit him 70% and Stiles hit him 30%."

There won't be a reunion of the 1966 team before today's game, since there have been three reunions already since the game.

Most of the players on the Bruins' 1966 Rose Bowl team went on to success in other walks of life. "Practically everyone on that team graduated," Prothro said.

Farr is perhaps the biggest success story. He owns car dealerships in Detroit and Columbus, Ohio. He's the Cal Worthington of the Midwest. He wears a cape on TV commercials and flies through the air, thanks to animation.

Farr also became one of the first blacks to buy a soft-drink bottling company.

Beban went to work for a national real estate firm after playing three seasons for the Washington Redskins. He is now a senior vice president for the company, which is based in Chicago. He oversees operations for 29 eastern states.

Stiles owns one of the largest Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles, Hana Sushi. He worked as an actor before he opened his restaurant.

Donahue, of course, is UCLA's coach. Colletto is an assistant football coach at Arizona.

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