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TWO GOOFS KILL THE GOPHERS
Gwilym S. Brown
December 03, 1962
Minnesota seemingly had the game won, but a roughing penalty—and a rougher penalty on a loose tongue—swung the tide and the Big Ten championship to the Wisconsin Badgers
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December 03, 1962

Two Goofs Kill The Gophers

Minnesota seemingly had the game won, but a roughing penalty—and a rougher penalty on a loose tongue—swung the tide and the Big Ten championship to the Wisconsin Badgers

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Bruhn, 50, is finishing up his seventh and finest year at Wisconsin. A guard at Minnesota during the middle 1930s, he has a massive head and jaw that give him a strong resemblance to television's Perry Mason. Also like Lawyer Mason, he faces each weekly crisis with at least an outward show of calm. "We've had to make no real offensive changes for Minnesota," Bruhn said, his deep voice sounding positively contented. "You can't sit in tight against their line. You have to spread out against them, and that's exactly what we've been doing all season."

One important reason why the Wisconsin offense has worked so well this year is senior Quarterback VanderKelen, a shrewd 175-pound six-footer who, prior to this season, had accrued exactly 90 seconds of game experience. He is a deft defender, runs the ball like a point-hungry halfback, blocks opposing tacklers with the precision of a surgeon snipping tonsils, and fires a hard, accurate pass, a vital weapon in any quarterback's repertoire. VanderKelen was the best running-passing quarterback Minnesota had faced since Bob Schloredt of Washington beat the Gophers 17-7 in the Rose Bowl two years ago. This meant that, instead of blitzing their linebackers through on defense as they had been doing all year, their defensive backs had to be sure what VanderKelen was up to before committing themselves. The fact that they held him to 10 completions (six of them to Richter) and 136 yards in 23 attempts is a tribute to the team's passionate love of defense. Tennessean Murray Warmath, a true son of the Southeastern Conference, is a coach who does not really believe that his team is on the offense until the other team is stuck with the ball inside its own 30-yard line. This year's Minnesota team had caught Warmath's enthusiasm.

"This club just loves to play defense," Star End John (Soup) Campbell said. "The only reason we don't like to play it all the time is because we know you can't score if you don't have the ball."

While the defense was enjoying itself to the extent of holding Wisconsin to 83 yards along the ground (in 30 cracks at their line), the offense also showed surprising signs of life, rolling up 353 yards running and passing to Wisconsin's 219. Quarterback Duane Blaska, scuttling along behind the line of scrimmage like a jittery rabbit, sprung Fullback Jerry Jones loose for consistent gains on the option play. In addition, he pierced the speedy Wisconsin secondary with accurate short passes, connecting on 14 of 26. At the very end only a leaping interception by Badger Halfback Jim Nettles, with 59 seconds to play, kept the Gophers from winning this amazing game. One way or another, Wisconsin had beaten a powerful, versatile team.

It has been a surprising and exciting year for Badger football, but while basking in the sweet glory of the final victory, Milt Bruhn seemed a little grim as he looked ahead to his January I meeting with Southern California in the Rose Bowl. On his last visit to Pasadena three years ago Coach Bruhn and a tired Badger team had been routed by Washington 44-8.

"I was so sick and so humiliated after that game," recalls Bruhn, "that I hid away in my motel room like a clam for three days. Believe me, I'm looking forward to getting out there again."

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