1967 Team

1966 RESULTS (9-2, 6-1 BIG TEN - 2nd)
Sept. 17 OHIO W 42-3
Sept. 24 at #8 Notre Dame L 14-26
Oct. 8 IOWA W 35-0
Oct. 15 at Michigan W 22-21
Oct. 22 at #2 Michigan State L 20-41
Oct. 29 ILLINOIS W 25-21
Nov. 5 at Wisconsin W 23-0
Nov. 12 at Minnesota W 16-0
Nov. 19 INDIANA W 51-6
Jan. 2 vs. USC (Rose Bowl) W 14-13

Bob Griese / John Charles / Perry Williams / Leroy Keyes
George Catavolos / Jim Beirne / Jack Mollenkopf

Frank Burke / Leroy Keyes / Bob Griese / George Catavolos

2016 Homecoming Photo Gallery

Mollenkopf Roses


Pick a cliché - "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" or "close but no cigar" - and it was apropos for Purdue football in the early-to-mid-1960s.

But the tide was about to turn.

The 1966 Boilermakers were talented with players like senior quarterback Bob Griese, junior end Jim Beirne, senior offensive tackle Jack Calcaterra, senior defensive halfback George Catavolos, senior defensive halfback John Charles, senior end Jim Finley, sophomore linebacker Chuck Kyle, junior defensive tackle Lance Olssen, sophomore fullback Perry Williams and sophomore halfback-defensive back Leroy Keyes - undoubtedly the most gifted athlete ever at Purdue.

Off to a 3-1 start, the ninth-ranked Boilermakers visited Michigan on Oct. 15 and won their fifth straight over the Wolverines, pulling out a 22-21 victory when junior linebacker Frank Burke, a 27-year-old married father of two, blocked a punt and recovered it for the game-winning touchdown. Next up was No. 2 Michigan State in East Lansing, and the Spartans disposed of the Boilermakers 41-20. The loss virtually ended Purdue's chances of winning the Big Ten Conference, but the Rose Bowl was still a possibility thanks to a Big Ten rule that prevented the same team from making repeat appearances. Michigan State had gone the previous year.

The Boilermakers had a crucial game the following week against Illinois at Ross-Ade Stadium, and things didn't look good as Griese threw five interceptions and the Fighting Illini led 21-10 through three quarters. But Griese redeemed himself with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including the game-winner, a 32-yarder to Finley with 1:20 remaining, for a 25-21 victory. Said Griese, who bettered his own school record with 288 passing yards: "I knew I had to go out and make up for it (five interceptions) because up until then I was the goat. I had to prove that I'm a better passer than that."

A 23-0 victory at Wisconsin on Nov. 5 improved the Boilermakers to 6-2 (4-1 Big Ten) with two games to play. Next up was a trip to Minnesota, and Purdue posted its second straight shutout, 16-0, to all but formally clinch a Rose Bowl bid. Griese's 30-yard field goal in the first quarter would prove to be all the points Purdue needed on a snowy day in Minneapolis.

"This is the greatest day of my life," head coach Jack Mollenkopf said just after being carried off the field by his players. "You have to give the boys and the assistant coaches credit for that. They've done it. They've done everything. And they've done it the hard way."

Purdue put an exclamation point on the regular season with a 51-6 victory over Indiana at home on Nov. 19 and accepted the school's first invitation to the Rose Bowl. The Boilermakers' opponent was the University of Southern California, which was coached by John McKay, who played halfback at Purdue in 1946 before transferring to the University of Oregon.

The Boilermakers took up residence at the Huntington-Sheraton Hotel in Southern California. Mollenkopf, a tell-it-like-it-is guy, was an immediate hit with members of the Los Angeles media. Lafayette radio station WASK reported on Dec. 23: "He may be the most popular coach to have appeared here. Middlewest writers who cover the Boilermakers week after week already know this, but when the hard core of the journalist world -- the Los Angeles press - accepts a visiting coach with such idolist banners, Purdue can't miss."

The Rose Bowl was played Jan. 2 before the largest crowd ever to watch the Boilermakers - 101,455. Purdue was a heavy favorite, but USC held its own, and the game came down to the final two and a half minutes. The Trojans scored a touchdown on a 19-yard pass from Troy Winslow to Rod Sherman to pull within a point at 14-13, and McKay opted to go for the win and not the tie. Winslow's two-point pass attempt was intercepted by Catavolos. After Purdue was stopped on its ensuing possession at the USC 43, the Trojans had one last chance, but with the goal posts at both ends already torn down, Winslow was sacked by junior tackle Fred Rafa to end the game. "Sure, I'm satisfied with a one-point win," Mollenkopf said. "We wanted to come out here and win, and it was a great win for us."

Charles, who had been sidelined since late October with a separated shoulder, recovered a fumble that stymied a USC drive at the Purdue 9-yard line and recorded 11 tackles to be selected the game's Most Valuable Player. Junior end Bob Holmes recovered another fumble, and Burke blocked a field goal. Williams scored both touchdowns, from one and two yards out.

Purdue finished with a 9-2 record and ranked seventh in the Associated Press poll. In Heisman Trophy voting, Griese, who set a school season record with 1,888 passing yards and was named the Big Ten Most Valuable Player, finished second to University of Florida quarterback Steve Spurrier.

From "Purdue University Football Vault: The History of the Boilermakers," written by Tom Schott and published in 2008.

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1966 team 50-year reunion


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