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The 1967 Rose Bowl took place on Monday, January 2,of that year. The game was the 53rd annual Rose Bowl game and was played between the Purdue Boilermakers and the USC Trojans, with the Boilermakers victorious with a final score of 14-13. John Charles, the Purdue defensive back, was named the Most Valuable Player at the game's conclusion.
Both teams included in the game were topics of controversy. This was widely regarded as a "runner-up" bowl, with Purdue only appearing as the result of the Big Ten's "no repeat rule" which kept Michigan State University out of the game. USC was controversially voted in over UCLA (see below). Instead of a matchup of #2 Michigan State and #5 UCLA (with 1 loss between them), the game was a draw of #7 Purdue and #10 USC (with 5 losses between them).
This was Purdue's first Rose Bowl appearance. As 1967 was an odd-numbered year, the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU) representative (USC) was designated the home team and wore cardinal red jerseys while Purdue, the visiting team, wore white jerseys with gold pants and helmets.
The #7-ranked Boilermakers were led by All-American quarterback Bob Griese. The team earned their first ever Rose Bowl berth after going 8–2 (6–1 Big Ten) and finishing second in the Big Ten Conference. Purdue's only losses were to #1 Notre Dame and #2 Michigan State (who famously played to a tie on November 19). The League champion Michigan State had gone undefeated at 7–0 in league play, but was barred from returning to Pasadena under the Big Ten's "no-repeat" rule.
The AAWU (unofficially known as the Pac-8) champion Trojans came into the game with a 7–3 record (4–1 Pac-8), ranked #10. They were controversially awarded with the Rose Bowl bid over UCLA, despite UCLA's #5 ranking, 9-1 record, and 14-7 victory over USC. Because of a flaw in the schedule, USC played one more conference game than UCLA and had a 4-1 Pac-8 record to UCLA's 3-1. Prior to the UCLA-USC game, it was widely assumed that the winner would go to the Rose Bowl. USC was voted in by the AAWU Athletic Directors, before Notre Dame annihilated USC 51-0 in the Trojans' final game. Many people thought awarding USC the Rose Bowl was to make up for 1964 when USC and Oregon State tied for the AAWU title. That year, it was assumed that if USC upset #1 Notre Dame in its final game, they would get the nod over Oregon State. USC upset Notre Dame, 20-17, but Oregon State was awarded the Rose Bowl berth over USC based on a better overall record (8-2 vs. 7-3). The coach of Oregon State in 1964 was Tommy Prothro, who happened to be the coach of UCLA in 1966. Another factor may have been an ankle injury sustained by UCLA star quarterback Gary Beban. USC started the season 6–0 before dropping three of their last four games going into the matchup with Purdue.
The game was a defensive struggle. Neither team scored in the first quarter and with each team reaching the end zone only once in the second quarter, the halftime score was 7-7. Purdue took a 14-7 lead in the 3rd quarter after a touchdown run by fullback Perry Williams. With less than two minutes to play, USC scored a touchdown on a Troy Winslow pass to Rod Sherman for 19 yards. Coach John McKay decided to try for a two-point conversion, which would secure the win against the favored Boilermakers, but Purdue's George Catavolos intercepted the pass in the end zone to preserve the 14-13 victory.