The gnashing of teeth on the West Coast after the game was deafening. "The Pacific Coast Conference ought to ditch this post-season party with the Big Ten or else determine to buckle down and attempt to offer some genuine competition," came the lament from Morton Moss of the Los Angeles Examiner. "Tiresome, frustrating, nauseating," wept the Herald-Express. "Pitiful line. Miserable tackling. Poor strategy. It all fits. It's all true," sniffled another critic. "OSC weakest bowl team," snapped another headline.
In short, the Rose Bowl game was, as usual, a disaster for the West. A medium-good (as Big Ten champions go) Iowa team ground out a sloppy 35-19 win over a plucky but confused pack of speedballs from Oregon State, and from the shrieks that rent the air after the fact a visitor might have concluded that the Iowans had made off with the Pacific Ocean.
As a matter of fact, the Oregon State team which was the recipient of all this abuse was neither considerably worse nor considerably better than the other nine Pacific Coast teams which have been shellacked in the Rose Bowl over the past 11 years. It even ran up the second-highest point total any Far Western team has scored on the Big Ten on New Year's, and on the whole deserved better of its critics.
Iowa could hardly boast a corner on the nation's grade A football players, and its white-suited team in corn-colored helmets sometimes got as dizzy as a rube at a carnival shell game trying to keep tabs on the speedy Oregonians. Yet Iowa's native craftiness asserted itself, and they soon began to concede the Beavers yardage up the middle as long as they could keep them from turning the perilous corners. The Oregon State backfield, as fast as an Olympic relay team, could have turned the game into a rout if it had ever got outside the burly ends and corner line-backers. It never did, although the Beavers did bolt up the middle for 193 yards, or enough to leave the Iowans' tongues hanging out giving chase. Oregon's Joe Francis was easily the outstanding back on the field, rolling up an unbelievable 216 yards, but the press corps, probably on the theory that nothing is as successful as success, voted for Iowa's Ken Ploen as the Most Valuable Player.
January 14, 1957
Ploen (pronounced "plain") may have deserved it for his headwork at that. He quickly perceived that the speedy Beavers were overeager on defense, tending to regard the game as a foot race in which everybody started at the snap of the ball and sped straight ahead until they converged on their noses where the ball had been. Ploen saw to it the ball was elsewhere when they arrived—either bootlegging it around end or lobbing it to an end in the clear over the goal line.
The game was hardly a rout, even so. In the closing minutes Oregon State was driving to what seemed a sure fourth touchdown, and there were incipient coronaries in the gamblers' rows all over the country (they had given 10 points) when the Beavers' little (163 pounds) center, Dick Corrick, suddenly seemed to get dizzy bending over the ball. Through his legs he could see two pairs of legs. One of them belonged to the referee; the other belonged to the tailback. Center Corrick split the difference and the ball sailed between the two of them and back 18 horrendous yards toward the horizon, where Iowa took it over.
Actually, Iowa did more damage to Pacific Coast ego than it did to Oregon State's football team, and the Californians were beside themselves with rage. This was the first time a Northwest school had lost to the Big Ten. Every other shellacking had been absorbed by a California school, and the local press seemed to resent the intrusion on their private torment. Indignation was high, and a "How dare you?" attitude was directed at Oregon State. "No one will convince me that USC...couldn't have given Iowa a pasting," hmmffed the Examiner's Mel Durslag. George Davis of the Herald-Express felt the same way. "This is not meant as an alibi..." he wrote. "But if it hadn't been for the Pacific Coast Conference bans, Southern California's Trojans would have been a much stronger representative than Oregon State....Arnett would have romped."
Clearly the Californians, regaining their confidence, were still dreaming of a happy Hollywood ending to a Rose Bowl game in which—as a Technicolored sun sank behind the storied Sierra Madre—the home towners would be carrying their hero off the field and tearing down their own goal posts at long last. It was a dream they were unwilling to share with the outlanders from the Northwest.
The bowl game football players left football talk to others, wet down their hair and—in the modern coeducational tradition—went out rug-cutting with their wives. For samples, turn the page.