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Topic: 1962 Big Ten Season and Wisconsin more generally

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1962 Big Ten Season and Wisconsin more generally
« on: May 23, 2022, 01:46:31 PM »
I was looking at this due to a discussion with @847badgerfan in another thread.  

The Big Ten (Nine for part of this time) absolutely dominated the Rose Bowl series early with the primary exception being Wisconsin going 0-3:

  • Starting just after WWII in 1947 (1946 season) the Big Ten (Nine at first) and PAC started facing off every year in the Rose Bowl.  Our league won the first six straight (1947-1952) with wins by IL2x, M2x, NU and tOSU.  
  • Wisconsin lost 7-0 in the 1953 Rose Bowl
  • Our league then won six more in a row (1954-1959) with wins by MSU2x, tOSU2x, and IA2x.  
  • Wisconsin lost 44-8 in the 1960 Rose Bowl
  • Minnesota lost 17-7 in the 1961 Rose Bowl
  • Minnesota won the 1962 Rose Bowl
  • Wisconsin lost 42-37 in the 1963 Rose Bowl
  • Our league then won two straight (1964-5) with wins by IL and M.  
Thus, after the 1965 Rose Bowl, the Big Ten's schools were:
  • 3-0 Illinois
  • 3-0 Michigan
  • 3-0 Ohio State
  • 2-0 Iowa
  • 2-0 Michigan State
  • 1-0 Northwestern
  • 1-1 Minnesota
  • 0-3 Wisconsin
  • 15-4 overall in the first 19 BigTen/Pac Rose Bowls (1947-1965)

I want to focus on the 1962 season first because it is interesting to me for several reasons.  For one thing, the Axe game on November 24, 1962 appears to have been for the league title.  Heading into the final weekend, here are the standings for all of the teams that could have finished with two or less losses:
  • 5-1 Wisconsin, vs MN
  • 5-1 Minnesota, @ UW
  • 3-2 Ohio State, vs M
  • 4-2 Northwestern, OOC @Miami, FL
  • 3-2 Michigan State, @ IL
  • 3-2 Purdue, vs IU
The Axe game was for the league title because the winner was going to finish 6-1 and Big Ten Champion.  The Rose Bowl is a little more complicated.  Minnesota had gone to the previous two Rose Bowls:
  • In 1960 Minnesota and Iowa tied for the league title at 5-1 and the Gophers beat the Hawkeyes 27-10 so Minnesota went to the Rose Bowl.  
  • In 1961 the Buckeyes won the league title at 6-0 but the BigTen/Pac/RoseBowl contract had lapsed so the Buckeyes were not contractually obligated to go and the tOSU faculty Council turned down the Rose Bowl's invitation.  Snubbed by the Buckeyes, the Rose Bowl invited Minnesota.  The Gopher accepted and beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl.  

I believe that in 1962 the no-repeat rule was in effect but I'm not sure.  It is a bit confusing because Minnesota DID repeat in the 1961 and 1962 Rose Bowls  (60 and 61 seasons) but I don't think the league rule came into effect because the contract had lapsed.  By 1962 I *THINK* that the contract was back in force including the no-repeat rule.  If so then I think that Wisconsin would have clinched the Rose Bowl BEFORE the Axe game.  Even if they had lost to the Gophers, the Badgers would have finished half a game ahead of Northwestern (and any of tOSU, MSU, or PU that happened to win their final game) so they'd have been second place and gone to the Rose Bowl in lieu of the Gophers because Minnesota would have been excluded by the no-repeat rule.  Is that right, does anyone know?  

FWIW, in that final weekend:
  • Wisconsin beat Minnesota 14-9 in Madison
  • Ohio State beat Michigan 28-0 in Columbus
  • Michigan State lost 7-6 to Illinois in Champaign
  • Purdue lost 12-7 to Indiana in West Lafayette

Thus in the final standings Wisconsin (6-1) was first one game ahead of Minnesota (5-2) while the Gophers were half a game ahead of the Buckeyes and Wildcats who tied for third (4-2).  No other team finished above .500.  

More on the stakes of the 1962 Axe game:  
At the time the AP was only doing a top-10.  Heading into the Axe game USC and Mississippi were both undefeated and were ranked #1 and #2.  Wisconsin (7-1) was #3 followed by Texas (8-0-1) then Minnesota (6-1-1).  The Badgers' win propelled them to #2 setting up a #1 vs #2 Rose Bowl game against USC.  

A game between #1 and #2 may not sound like a big deal today but that is only because we see it regularly.  When #1 USC met #2 Wisconsin on January 1, 1963 that was the first meeting of #1 and #2 since Army/Notre Dame in 1946.  Back then this was rare and obviously a very big deal.  

Wisconsin's history is interesting in that they have been really good or REALLY bad:

Wisconsin won the first two league titles (1896/7) and a total of five league titles in the first 17 years of the league (1896-1912).  Then they went 39 years (1913-1951) without so much as a co-championship.  Then they won three titles in 11 years (1952-1962).  Then they went 30 (1963-1992) years without so much as a co-championship.  Since 1993 they are second in the league with six league titles which trails only tOSU (14).  So basically Wisconsin has been:
  • 1896-1912:  Really good, five titles in 17 years or almost one every three years
  • 1913-1951:  Flat awful, no titles in 39 years.  
  • 1952-1962:  Really good, three titles in 11 years or a little better than one every four years.  
  • 1963-1992:  Flat awful, no titles in 30 years.  
  • 1993-2021:  Really good, six titles which is better than one every five years and is second best in the league.  

Wisconsin's "good" periods are REALLY good.  Their five titles in the first 17 years of the league is third behind only Minnesota (7) and Michigan (6).  Their three titles in 11 years from 1952-1962 is tied for second behind only tOSU (4) and their six titles since 1993 is second behind only tOSU (14).  Ie, in each of those periods they are one of the very best programs in the league but those other 69 years (1913-1951 and 1963-1992) aren't just off-peak, they are terrible.  

Badge already suggested that de-emphasis of athletics played a role in the 1963-1992 swoon.  Ok, but what explains the even longer 1913-1951 drought?  


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Re: 1962 Big Ten Season and Wisconsin more generally
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2022, 03:56:01 PM »
I don't have a great explanation for this time period but I do know that the admin in the 1950's and early 1960's was very pro-athletics. That is when the upper deck was built at Camp Randall.

I do know that during the 1915-1950 period there was not much in the way of athletic enthusiasm on campus.

Lots of players went to schools where there was also military training. For example, Crazy Legs was at Wisconsin, but when he joined the marines he was transferred to Michigan for training, and played there two seasons. 

He played at Wisconsin on the freshmen team, and then as a sophomore carried UW to an 8-1-1 record and a #3 AP finish. And then he was gone.

He came back to UW as AD in 1969 and served until 1986. He took attendance at Camp Randall from 40K/game to 70K/game.


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