Throwback Thursday: 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl

1961 Blue Bonnet Bowl–Kansas Jayhawks 33, Rice Owls 7
In the first meeting between the schools, KU traveled to Houston, Texas to meet the Rice Owls in the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl. Led by fullback Ken Coleman who scored two touchdowns on 107 yards rushing, the Jayhawks went on to win 33-7. Fifty-one years later, the two teams will face off again at Kivisto Field in Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 8.

090612aag_113_6476110.jpeg1961 Blue Bonnet Bowl Recap
HOUSTON (AP) – Kansas ran Rice University ragged with double reverses and the power of Ken Coleman Saturday as the Jayhawks crushed the favored Owls 33-7 in the third annual Bluebonnet Bowl football game.

Coleman, a 201 pound sophomore, scored twice while grinding out 107 yards in 18 carries. Roger McFarland got two more on neatly executed double reverses. John Hadl, who Friday denied charges he had signed a pro contract, directed all five Kansas scoring drives and. set up one of Coleman’s touchdowns: with a 41 yard scamper on a faked fourth down punt.

Immediately after the game, a scout for the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League met Hadl under the south goalpost and signed the Kansas star to a 1962 contract.

Rice took a brief 7-0 lead with 6 yard drive late in the first period, but Hadl’s beautiful run fed the Kansas comeback and the Owls made only one other serious threat.

A light rain that fell throughout the nationally televised game cut attendance at the 70,000-seat Rice Stadium to 52,000. Bluebonnet officials, however, said that 61,000 tickets had been sold.

Rice had been favored by 3 points to score its fifth victory in seven postseason bowl games. Kansas was making its first bowl appearance since losing to Georgia Tech 14-20 in the 1948 Orange Bowl.

Coleman was voted the game’s most outstanding back. Elvin Basham, chunky Kansas guard was the outstanding lineman.

Rice’s touchdown came on a five-yard pass from Randy Kerbow to Johnny Burrell.

The Kansas scoring drives covered 59, 65, 50, 36 and 69 yards. After Coleman had scored the first two touchdowns, Curtis McClinton ran the Jayhawk lead to 19-7 by carrying over from the four.

McFarland’s touchdown runs caught Rice flatfooted and covered 9 and 12 yards each. Hadl, who completed seven of 10 passes for 64 yards, started the first Kansas drive with a 14 yard pass to McFarland. Coleman then took over and moved 32 yards to the Rice four in four carries.

Gary Poage started Rice toward its only score with a 21 yard run to the Kansas 48. Kerbow passed 11 yards to Burrell and Butch Blume put the Owls within striking distance with an: 18-yard run to the 12. Blume also kicked the extra point.

Hadl’s 41-yard run carried to the Rice 19 midway in the second period. On the next play Coleman ran over three Rice defenders while powering 18 yards to the one. He plunged over on the next play. In the last 28 seconds of the half, Kerbow completed three passes that moved Rice 61 yards. Bob Wayt caught a 35-yarder at the Kansas five as the halftime gun sounded.

Coleman and McFarland accounted for all but McClinton’s four yard touchdown run on the 50-yard drive.

Late in the period, Fred Eisman recovered a Rice fumble at the Owl 36 and McFarland got his first double reverse six-pointer 11 plays later. A 13-yard pass from Hadl to Tony Leiker moved it to the 14, the only pass of the drive.

Kansas stayed on the ground all the way on its final drive, with Coleman contributing 21 of the 69 yards in four carries.


090612aag_113_1897526.jpegKansas quarterback John Hadl on his memory of the 1961 bowl game:
“On a fourth down, I faked a punt and ran (41 yards to the Rice 19-yardline) right before the half. That turned the momentum around and we were able to beat them. After the game I signed my contract with the San Diego Chargers under the goalpost.” Kansas quarterback John

Hadl on his favorite moments of the 1961 bowl game:
“After the game I signed my contract with the San Diego Chargers under the goalpost, so I remember that. What was funny was that Curtis McClinton signed his too (with the Dallas Texans – now the Kansas City Chiefs). He had a bonus check with him coming off the field, and he accidentally stuck the check in the locker next to his, thinking it was his locker. He went crazy looking for that check. I think it was 10 grand at the time. I remember that clearly because everybody in the locker room was looking for that check.”

Kansas football players donned replica jerseys from the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the game when the Jayhawks hosted Texas Tech in 2011.

Brandon Bourbon