The 1963 Rose Bowl was a college footballbowl game played on January 1, 1963 at the end of the 1962 college football season. It was the 49th Rose Bowl Game. The USC Trojans defeated the Wisconsin Badgers, 42–37. This is the first #1 versus #2 match-up to occur in a bowl game, although #1 versus #2 match-ups had occurred previously as regular season games (typically referred to as "Games of the Century"). Ron Vander Kelen, the Wisconsin quarterback and Pete Beathard, the USC quarterback, were both named the Rose Bowl Player of the Game. Down 42–14 in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin quarterback Ron Vander Kelen put together a number of drives to score 23 unanswered points and put the Badgers in position to win the game. Due to the historic #1 versus #2 bowl match-up, the number of Rose Bowl records set, and the furious fourth quarter rally by Wisconsin, this game frequently appears on lists of "greatest bowl games of all time."
This was the first bowl game to pair the #1 and #2 teams in the AP Poll, although there had previously been six regular season #1 versus #2 games since the inception of the poll in 1936. This was the second Rose Bowl meeting between USC and Wisconsin (the first being the 1953 Rose Bowl) and the fourth meeting, overall.
After two consecutive losing seasons in 1960 and 1961, John McKay turned the Trojans around in his third season as head coach. The team opened with a defeat of number 8 ranked Duke. Consecutive wins against SMU, at Iowa, California, and at Illinois got the Trojans ranked higher in the top 10. On November 3, 1962, the Trojans played their biggest game of the season against the Washington Huskies, who were ranked #9. In the homecoming game, the Trojans blanked the Huskies 14–0. With that win, the Trojans were ranked number two behind Northwestern. On November 17, by beating Navy and with Alabama losing to Georgia Tech 7–6, USC ascended to the number one spot in the AP poll. In the UCLA-USC rivalry game, the Bruins led 3–0 until the fourth quarter, when the Trojans scored two touchdowns. In what would be the final game for Notre Dame football coach Joe Kuharich, USC shut out a 5–4 Notre Dame team at the Coliseum, breaking a five-game losing streak for the Trojans against the Fighting Irish in the annual intersectional rivalry. The Trojans finished ranked number 1 for the first time in the history of the AP poll, and were undefeated for the first time since the 1939 USC Trojans team played in the 1940 Rose Bowl.
USC tackle Marv Marinovich was ejected when he got caught elbowing Steve Underwood, the Wisconsin captain. Wisconsin, under the direction of quarterback Ron Vander Kelen put together an incredible comeback attempt in the fourth quarter. Pete Beathard had completed his fourth TD pass with 14:54 left in the game to put USC up 42–14. Then the Badgers scored 23 unanswered points before time ran out.
Eleven Rose Bowl records were set and five still stand as of 2008: most intercepted passes (3 by Ron Vander Kelen), most touchdown passes (4 by USC, and six overall), most first downs by one team (32 by Wisconsin), and most penalties (USC 12 for 93 yards). The Rose Bowl record 79 total points scored in this game stood for nearly thirty years (subsequently broken in the 1991 Rose Bowl). The omitted records stood for more than thirty years were broken by Danny O'Neil of the Oregon Ducks in the 1995 Rose Bowl.
^Zimmerman, Paul - EVERYTHING'S ROSY! TROJANS WIN, 14-0. Los Angeles Times, November 4, 1962
^Zimmerman, Paul - TROJANS ALMOST TRIP ON WAY TO BOWL. 86,740 See Stubborn Bruins Bow in 4th Quarter, 14-3. Los Angeles Times, November 25, 1962
^Zimmerman, Paul - PERFECT ENDING: TROJANS, 25; IRISH, 0. Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1962
^Stiegman, Pat - 1963: The greatest Rose Bowl ever. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 23, 1993. ... the Trojans were a few quarts low in the second half, losing several players to injury and tackle Marv Marinovich (yes, father of Los Angeles Raiders QB Todd Marinovich) to ejection when he got caught elbowing Underwood in the skull AFTER a play in the third quarter. "I was walking back to the huddle and BAM, I felt this bump in the back of the head," [Steve] Underwood said. "I turned around here here's Marinovich and the ref standing right there, watching the whole thing. It was so stupid, it was unbelievable."