Burly Berkeley Bears Make New Year's Feast of Buckeyes Before Biggest Tournament Crowd in History.
By: Harry A. Williams
New Year's brought a perfect California day in a blaze of blue and gold.
Canopying the great stadium at Tournament Park yesterday was the blue of California, and in the broad sweep of laden orange groves was symbolized the gold. Farther in the dim west was the faint blue of the Pacific, and gold lurked in the ledges of the rock-ribbed mountains purpling in the rays of the descending sun.
Blending perfectly into the picture, stalwart gladiators in the turf-carpeted bowl were hailed as football champions of America by the biggest football crowd in Tournament history, and the victors also wore the blue and gold of California.
Truly, the end of a perfect California day.
California, a distinctly typical California team, had given it the final touch by overthrowing Ohio's heretofore invincible football team by a score of 28 to 0 and giving to the West the undisputed gridiron supremacy of the country.
With the rising of the California sun yesterday, came the setting of Ohio's.
The champion of the Big Ten like the morning glories of the floral pageant, wilted in the afternoon under the withering attack of the Bears.
HUNCH VS. DOPE
Again the East had failed to give the West any lessons in football, and the Hunch had proven its reliability over the Dope.
Princeton knew something when she politely refused the invitation to play the University of California at Pasadena.
The clocks failed to strike any sensational last-minute for the Buckeyes.
California simply took the ball away from Ohio in the last minute of play, but that precaution was unnecessary as the Buckeyes couldn't have undone in a week what the Bears did to them in fifty-nine minutes already elapsed.
One looked at the wonderful setting, the blending go blue and gold on every side, and could but feel that it was to be a California Day. Then California won the toss, and the lucky flip of the coin could only be interpreted as another harbinger of victory.
The Bears chose to receive with their backs to the sun. On the first play a California man slipped as he received the ball to kick, and a great slide of Crimson and Gray avalanched upon him. His next effort was more successful and the ball passed to Ohio's possession by the serial route of exchange. There was another exchange of kicks. The ball was passed to an Ohio back for a crash at the Bear line. Back of the Ohio forwards there was a fatal false move of some sort. The ball bounded from the arms of an Ohio player, rolled impishly on the turf. Latham, the big, but panther-like California center, threw himself on the oval. His dive for the ball had in it the speed an surety of a python's strike. This was the turn of the game. Joe Gum seemed about to make good his boast. It was California's ball on Ohio's 28-yard line. A young California giant, they said it was "Brick" Mueller, combining the compactness of his nickname with the resiliency of rubber, shot from the Ohio pack and was down the field with the speed of an antelope. Sprott drew back and sped the ball through the air with the accuracy of a bullet. Mueller folded it in his arms, and was again into his stride when felled by the two Ohio tacklers. The pass had netted thirteen yards. California was beating Ohio at its own game. There was a flash of blue and gold around the Ohio right end. It was the first spurt of the sensational Sprott. He sped and straight-armed twelve yards, before there was a final thud of an Ohio tackle. The ball was now rested on the 4-yard line of the Big Ten champions, and a peculiar, almost awed hush settled over the stadium. This was fast work, and the crowd lost its power of articulation in this revealing of the unbelievable. The same Sprott was sent diving into the line for three more yards.
Again the ball was fed to Sprott, and he drove just to the left of center. The heretofore invincible Ohio line bent begrudgingly like a piece of whalebone, and then snapped. Sprott was through for the first touchdown, ten minutes after the start of play. Two more came before the end of the first half.
Ohio played rough, valiant football but was outclassed and overmatched. The Bears were right at the zenith of their prowess. It is doubtful whether the full power of the California colossus was ever loosed until yesterday. Against their smooth, machine-like play, the Big Ten champions seemed woefully impotent. They were out-played in every angle of the game. They shaped up smaller, and there was a slowness about their charging and getting down under punts that suggested possible staleness or men muscle-bound. But they must have been sound, otherwise they would have lost their punch. Three times in the first half they had the ball well inside the California 10-yard line, only to be held or lose the ball through the vagaries of football. California's passes were surer and more effective than Ohio's. Also, the Bear line proved superior. For the first time the Ohio human wall had met its match. The tough Buckeye line finally granulated under the heavy pounding and became brittle.
California had the breaks because it made the breaks. Bloodhounds never followed a fresh scent like the Bears followed that football.
To mention the stars would be to name every California man and a good percentage of the Buckeyes.
IN THE BEGINNING
Back to the noon hours. The floats were drifting into the backwash just opposite Tournament Park. Inside the stadium it was hot and stuffy, but later a blanket of coolness settled down that argued well for fast football. Special officers were trying to cope with a hundred or so small boys who had scaled the fence or entered through some newly discovered crack or cranny, and who were scampering frantically to elude their pursuers.
Just outside was a long line of people waiting to get a buy at the last block of tickets. Ushers said they were there early in the morning, and he believed some had stood in line all night.
Outside were fat men on horseback in red coasts and tall silk hats, who withall managed to look mighty uncomfortable. Inside hawkers announced raucously that no peanuts or hot dogs would be sold in the grandstand. Also, they offered vile stogies at two for a quarter. Going through the pass gate, I recognized Nick Harris and two plainclothes men. Possibly they were laying for a ticket moocher, and here's hoping that they landed him. At another gate somebody nabbed an eel-like man with a ratty face and eyes like shoe buttons.
With the unlocking of the gates, two streams of people, increasing in volume, flowed steadily and apparently endlessly into the stadium like water filling a reservoir.
The Ohio section, right under the press box, was large but nondescript as to distinctive wearing apparel. Across the field the California section was a blaze of color—a great prism alternating from white to blue to gold.
Ohio State was the first on the field, debouching from the northwest corner at 1:45 o'clock. They wore scarlet jerseys with perpendicular stripes of gray. They came into the arena passing the ball. An instant later, California charged in from the opposite side, and there was both nervousness and curiosity in Ohio's attitude as the men paused in their passing to have a first look at their opponents. The Bears wore blue jerseys in which the arms were banded in blue and gold about the sleeves, and stockings of the same design. They seemed to bulk about fifteen pounds heavier to the man than Ohio.
There was a symmetry and suppleness about California, lacking in the Buckeyes. The Bears seemed each to be from the same mold and assembled for the dramatic effect. Both teams then retired for final instructions, returning a few minuted before the start of play.
California looked and played the part of champions. They made western football supreme, and its supremacy will survive for at least another season.
A perfect ending to a perfect California Day.
This is an article published in the Los Angeles Times on January 2, 1921 describing the University of California's first Rose Bowl and National Championship. The Bears whipped the Buckeyes of Ohio State 28-0 in their first ever meeting in Pasadena in front of a then-record breaking crowd. The Bears would then go on to win three more National Championships in the 1920s under legendary coach Andrew Latham Smith. This game is also the only time in the history of California football that the Bears beat Ohio State.
Article Credit: Harry A. Williams. 2 January 1921. Los Angeles Times.