Four times Alabama had made the trip to Pasadena, where it had both surprised the college football world and proved its doubters wrong.
But the Crimson Tide couldn't make it five straight without a loss at the Rose Bowl.
Frank Thomas' team had ridden the leg of Sandy Sanford to California, as the kicker made a 32-yard game-winning field goal against No. 19 Tulane (when Alabama should have been called for an illegal formation), and then another against No. 12 Vanderbilt, for 9-6 and 9-7 wins, respectively.
But its good fortune ran out against Leonard B. “Stub” Allison's Cal Bears, who featured center Bob Herwig, end Perry Schwartz, quarterback Johnny Meek, guard Vard Stockton, and halfback Sam Chapman.
The Crimson Tide also never had an answer for junior tailback Vic Bottari, who ran for 137 yards and scored the only two touchdowns of the game.
Both scores were on short carries around the right end. The first capped a 13-play, 63-yard possession in the second quarter, the other from approximately midfield during the third quarter.
Alabama threatened twice in the game, reaching the Bears’ 2- and 7-yard lines, but fumbled both times.
It was sort of fitting after the way Cal, known as the "Thunder Team" due to its hard hitting, set the tone on a Chapman punt. Schwartz hit the returner so hard the ball squirted to the turf and the end recovered.
It was one of four lost fumbles, and four interceptions, for the Crimson Tide, which finished 9-1 (6-0 Southeastern Conference).
Although Alabama was led by All-American guard Leroy G. Monsky, and fullback Joe Kilgrow, the coaching staff was nothing short of legendary.
It included, from left to right, Tilden Campbell, Henry Crisp, Thomas, Harold Drew, Paul Burnham and a young assistant named Paul W. Bryant.