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Sooners, Dawgs are perfect in Pasadena
Nate Hybl, 2003 Rose Bowl MVP, led the Sooners to a big victory over Washington State.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma meets Georgia on New Year’s Day in a semifinal game of the College Football Playoffs.

For 55 years (1946-2001) the Rose Bowl was an exclusive club of teams from the Pacific Coast (now Pac-12) and Big Ten Conferences. Before the “Granddaddy of Them All” became a snobby bowl game, teams from around the country were invited.

Both teams took similar paths to the game—60 years apart, and following the worst tragedies in American history.

Georgia was invited after a 10-1 performance from the 1942 season. The second-ranked Bulldogs outscored opponents by an average of 33-7 and shutout five of them. The Dawgs won the Southeast Conference, but their only loss was a 27-13 setback to Auburn. Georgia’s Rose Bowl opponent was No. 13 UCLA, sporting a 7-3 record and the PCC title.

Not many Georgia fans traveled due to wartime travel restrictions. Just 13 months removed from the attack on Pearl Harbor, World War II raged across the globe. The 1942 Rose Bowl, which was scheduled for 25 days after the 1941 invasion was moved to Durham, North Carolina.

Duke University, located in Durham, and Oregon State were the invitees that year. Rose Bowl officials had contemplated canceling the game due to the series of attacks on West Coast merchant ships beginning two weeks following Pearl Harbor.

Frankie Sinkwich, Georgia’s halfback who won the 1942 Heisman Trophy, did not play most of the 1943 Rose Bowl as he was hobbled with two sprained ankles. He did score the game’s only touchdown, however.

Charley Trippi, his understudy, rushed for 115 yards and earned the MVP honor.

The Dawgs and Bruins battled through three scoreless quarters. A blocked punt in the fourth quarter resulted in a Georgia safety, and Sinkwich later scored on a three-yard run after an interception. The Bulldogs won, 9-0.

Georgia was declared as national champs by several ranking polls, but Ohio State was named champs by the Associated Press.

Ironically, 15 months after the 9/11 next attack on the United States, the Sooners were invited to Pasadena, Calif. to play in the 2003 Rose Bowl. Oklahoma, in Bob Stoops’ fourth year as coach, rolled through a 10-2 season and beat Colorado in the Big 12 Championship.

Ohio State won the Big Ten title that year and qualified to play in the BCS National Championship Game in the Fiesta Bowl.

In 2001, the Rose Bowl deviated from its tradition of conference ties and began including other teams, mainly since the committee wanted to be included in the BCS process. The Rose Bowl

hosted the BCS title game just a year before the Sooners arrived.

Washington State, also sporting a 10-2 mark, and champs of the Pac-10 Conference was OU’s opponent. The Cougars’ head coach Mike Price had accepted the coaching job at Alabama two weeks before the Rose Bowl Game, but agreed to finish his coaching duties against the Sooners.

Nate Hybl, who battled Jason White for Oklahoma’s starting quarterback job in 2001 and 2002, had been much-maligned during those two years. He had big shoes to fill with the departure of Josh Heupel, who led the Sooners to a national championship in 2000.

White got the nod to start the 2002 season, but a knee injury against Alabama in the second week of the season, kept him sidelined the rest of the year. Hybl led OU all the way to the Big 12 Championship and a bid to the Rose Bowl.

The eighth-ranked Sooners hammered No. 7 Washington State, 34-14. Hybl completed 19 of 29 passing for 240 yards and two touchdowns. He was named the game’s MVP. Tailback Quentin Griffin rushed for 144 yards and scored once.

OU controlled the entire game by jumping to a 27-0 lead through three-and- a-half quarters. The Cougars got their first touchdown midway through the fourth period. The Sooners answered with Griffin’s 20-yard scamper. The Cougars answered back with an 89-yard return on the ensuing kickoff with 1:15 left in the game.

Oklahoma’s defense was relentless. It held WSU to 239 passing yards and 21 rushing yards. The Cougars had averaged 297 passing yards and 140 rushing yards and had averaged 35 points during the regular season. The Sooners sacked WSU quarterback Jason Gesser six times and intercepted him twice.

OU finished fifth in the final rankings.

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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