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The five major bowl games, which will feature all but one of the nation's leading college teams, will be watched by 130 million TV viewers and over 300,000 paid spectators in the four days from December 29 to January 1. Because all of the teams have tight defensive systems, the dazzling play will be at a premium. The University of Southern California has one of the best—an intriguing pass option maneuver (see top right) that will bear watching in its Rose Bowl game against Wisconsin. And Penn State, which meets Florida in the Gator Bowl on December 29, is certain to spring its nifty "bread and butter reverse," which has helped the favored Lions unroll a mighty offense late in the season. For scouting reports of major bowls, turn the page.
This is the first bowl game in which the nation's No. 1-ranked team has ever met the nation's No. 2-ranked team. It is also the first time that teams from Wisconsin and California have faced one another for the championship of anything. No fans are louder than those from Wisconsin save those from California; only one state is better at rooting home a front-runner than California—Wisconsin. Although Wisconsin is considered a slight favorite, USC probably will win. Big Ten teams have won 13 of 16 games in the current Rose Bowl series and Wisconsin has accounted for two of those three defeats. This Wisconsin team, however, is good—a true Big Ten champion with heft and depth, and USC will have to fight hard to beat it. Quarterback Ron VanderKelen (24) is both an excellent passer and an excellent runner and only 2.7% of his passes were intercepted all season. His main target is All-America End Pat Richter (88), 6 feet 5� inches, 220 pounds. Coach John McKay has built an imaginative offense and a strong defense at USC. His current USC team is the first undefeated one since 1932, and in its three big games—against Iowa, Washington and Notre Dame—it held the opposition to no points. Quarterbacks Pete Beathard (12) and Bill Nelsen (16) call a good running game, and Pass Catcher Hal Bedsole (19) is almost as good as Richter. USC's wide running threat is Willie (The Wisp) Brown (26).
Other players to watch and what to watch for: Wisconsin uses a basic pro-type offense with flankers, fashioned along the lines of the Green Bay Packers. Halfback Gary Kroner (16) plays on both offense and defense and hit with 27 of 27 conversion attempts. Bruhn often plays a predominantly sophomore backfield led by Quarterback Harold Brandt (18), Halfbacks Carl Silvestri (45) and Frederic Reichardt (48), and sophomores will, of course, be sophomores. Defensively, Ends Ron Carlson (28) and Larry Howard (81) are better than adequate but, overall, Wisconsin is not strong against flat passes. USC's Ken Del Conte (20), a journeyman ballcarrier, is an excellent blocker, and Ben Wilson (49) is strong at fullback. USC had only three passes intercepted all year. The team seems to direct its opening sequence at the bulwark of an opponent's line and once that sector is intimidated, branches out, testing one side and then the other, then usually throws deep to Bedsole. The strategy should win for USC.
Both Arkansas and Mississippi are in full agreement that they met in football in 1914 and at Little Rock. Mississippi maintains that it won 13-7, Arkansas says it won 1-0 by forfeit. Small matter, for such things can be expected from these old and hating rivals. In their 25 meetings Arkansas has won 13, Mississippi 12; nine of those games were decided by six points or less; Ole Miss has scored 310 points, Arkansas 303. Mississippi has won the last four games the schools have played, but in this meeting, their first bowl game, Arkansas has a good chance to upset Mississippi. This Arkansas team (9-1) is probably the best in the school's history, and Coach Frank Broyles was recently rewarded with a $3,000 pay raise (to $23,000 per year). "By using the three-platoon system this year for the first time," he says, "I had more boys ready to play than ever before—boys who do their talking with their helmets on." The Razorbacks use a tight slot T and the offense is basically a quarterback-fullback operation. Quarterback Billy Moore (10) and Fullback Danny Brabham (31) are the leaders of this offense and, according to Broyles, "We like to take the bail and run right down the other team's throat." Arkansas also has good field-goal potential in sophomore Tommy McKnelly (52), who has hit from as far out as 41 yards and who won the SMU game with a kick of 24 yards. Mississippi Coach Johnny Vaught relies heavily on defense, but in the last three seasons he has moved from ball possession to a wide-open offense. This year he has introduced some elements of the single wing into his slotback and wingback system but, as always, he will rely heavily on the man in motion and the option pass. Vaught has a fine quarterback in Glynn Griffing (15), who completed 59% of his passes, but still does not have an adequate fullback.
Other players to watch and what to watch for: Arkansas' young defensive secondary has difficulty defending against the short, down-and-out pass. The Razorbacks have superb downfield blocking, and Tailback Jesse Branch (21) will be used mostly as an inside runner but also has enough speed to swing outside. Moore cuts so sharply that on a wet field he loses his effectiveness. Mississippi is strongest against running, yielding only 67.8 yards per game, but almost equally good against passing, giving up 74.4 per game. Ole Miss ability to strike from distances has minimized its weakness at fullback. In a mild upset, Arkansas.
Bud Wilkinson has sent four Oklahoma teams to Miami's Orange Bowl since 1954; each has won and only one ever dared get itself even momentarily behind. While Miami has certainly been good to Oklahoma, Oklahoma has been even better to Miami. The Sooners have drawn an average of 74,000 to the Orange Bowl, even though the Orange is not the most watched of the televised bowl games (in 1962 19.3 million watched the Orange Bowl compared to 37.8 million for the Rose Bowl).
Oklahoma and Alabama have never met before in football, either in a bowl or a bathtub. Oklahoma's strong point is its ground game; Alabama's strong point is stopping a ground game. Somehow, somewhere, something's got to give, and Alabama—although a slight favorite—probably is that something. After losing two of its first three games, Oklahoma pounded its next seven opponents 247-19, and during that period it developed a sound passing attack, which was seldom used by previous Wilkinson-coached teams. Alabama showed some leaks in its "umbrella" pass defense.