Not wanting to lose for the third consecutive time in the Rose Bowl, Stanford strove to score first, which they did with Bill Paulman's touchdown run in the first quarter. The rest of the game was a defensive struggle (which is why two ends were named MVP), highlighted by Stanford's six interceptions and SMU's crucial fumble at Stanford's five yard line. In the end, there was 355 combined yards, but also 25 combined punts and only 15 first downs.
The game was the first sellout for the Rose Bowl Game with all 84,784 seats filled with a large portion of fans from Texas to watch their Mustangs play. According to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, there was a request for additional 200,000 tickets.