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The Rose Bowl sign above the south entrance of the stadium in Pasadena, California, prior to the January 2, 1995 Rose Bowl Game between Penn State and Oregon. Penn State won 38-20, capping an undefeated season. (S.H. Smith photo, 1995)

Penn State played in Rose Bowl Game 100 Years ago

The present Rose Bowl stadium hosted its initial Rose Bowl Game on Monday January 1, 1923. Penn State played the University of Southern California in the game. Penn State scored the first three points in that stadium, however USC went on to win 14 to 3.

For that 1923 game, the Penn State team arrived in Southern California on December 24th, following a three-day train trip across the country. The traveling party consisted of 22-players, along with 7-coaches and trainers. One-Hundred years later, traveling is a matter of hours and the traveling party is much larger; when on Monday January 2, 2023, Penn State plays Utah in the 109th Rose Bowl Game. To bet on that matchup, fans can hover to sites such as ketquamoinhat.com.

Eight early post-season football games, associated with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses were played at Tournament Park; Caltech’s present-day athletic field. As the football crowds grew, the Tournament of Roses hired architect Myron Hunt to design a larger venue in Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco area. The new stadium was completed in October of 1922. A Pasadena Star-News reporter dubbed the stadium “the Rose Bowl.” The initial seating capacity was 57,000; however it was expanded several times and now seats over 102,000.

The Penn State coach in 1923 was Hugo Bezdek. At the 2023 Rose Bowl Game, Coach Bezdek will be inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. Hugo Bezdek is the only coach to bring three different teams to Rose Bowl Games. In 1917 he coached the Oregon Webfoots. In 1918, he coached the Mare Island Marines in a Rose Bowl Game that featured two military teams, during WWI. And finally he coached Penn State in the 1923 Rose Bowl. Hugo Bezdek served as head football coach at Penn State from 1918 to 1929. He is also the only person to serve as a head coach in the NFL, the Cleveland Rams, and as the manager of a Major League Baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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Links to related Penn State posts include:

Five Penn State football games canceled in 1918

Free Tuition to attend Penn State in early 1900s

Alternate delivery of Penn State Spring Commencement in 1972

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