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From 1920 to 2020, a lot changed for Oregon at the Rose Bowl

They traveled hundreds of miles, fostering the same goal but with vastly different approaches once they finally set foot in Pasadena, California.

Much of their preparation involved closely guarded secrets and, once all was said and done, the victor was able to walk away with a hard-earned, one-point advantage.

Those words ring as true for the 1920 Rose Bowl as they do for the 2020 edition, with one mighty squad from the East testing its mettle against another from the West.

The University of Oregon shouldered the hopes of the West in both cases, and in the 2020 version the Ducks were able to rally for a 28-27 triumph over favored Wisconsin. In 1920, it was Harvard who held on for a 7-6 victory — the last of seven college football national championships for the Crimson.

Watching the 2020 Rose Bowl showed just how far sporting events have come in 100 years.

On Dec. 20, 1919, the Harvard Crimson carried the confidence of all New England as they began a 3,000-mile transcontinental trip to California from Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a New Year’s Day meeting with the Webfoots in what was then known as the Tournament East-West Football Game.

While each of the 23 members of the Crimson squad were pronounced fit, there was concern that the six days of Pullman car riding and numerous elevations, shifts and climatic changes might soften the players. Harvard trainer Pooch Donovan outlined a program of special exercises for the journey, utilizing 19 stops for brief outdoor runs to complement a few indoor exercises.

Only two days into Harvard’s trip, the Oregon contingent was already headlong into two practices per day in Pasadena under the supervision of head coach Charles “Shy” Huntington and Bill Hayward, the Webfoots’ trainer since 1902.

Having taken a much shorter journey by train in a private railroad car, Oregon’s 25 players and their coaches were determined to make a good showing against the powerhouse Crimson and wanted to get a jump on their training.

During the trip, the team stopped briefly on Dec. 19 in Medford, where a small group of supporters met the team at the depot and wished the players luck. Hoping to gain an advantage, Oregon had brought along a large tank of Eugene’s municipal water for the excursion. Foreshadowing the program’s penchant for next-level thinking these days, Huntington said he wasn’t about to take any chances that “his boys” would be out of condition just because of inferior drinking water.

Secrecy shrouded the Oregon camp, with no word on their training details or style of plays, open or massed, that would be used to take down unbeaten Harvard. The Webfoots posted sentinels along the top of the grandstand and at all entrances of Tournament Park during their practices, shooing away all who might be spies for the Crimson.

Huntington and Hayward offered only five words to account for their secretiveness: “We are out to win.”

The Webfoots, mind you, had to make up for the stark difference between teams. While Oregon held an edge in speed, a trait that would play out again in 2020, the “beefy” Harvard players held an advantage in size.

“If the Harvard men average only 160 pounds as they say,” declared one Oregonian after seeing the Crimson upon their Dec. 26, 1919, arrival, “we are bantamweights. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

As determined as the Webfoots may have been, the Crimson were equally vocal about having something to prove on New Year’s Day.

“All the men know this is an important game, and they can be counted upon to play the game of their lives,” said Harvard coach Robert Fisher. “We wish to give the Westerners an idea of what Eastern football is like and how it is played. We did not come here for a pleasure trip.”

Exceptionally warm temperatures had many of the Crimson practicing with their shoes off, going through their signals with no confusion. Harvard was less secretive about its training, and onlookers were delighted by how the Harvard machine would plunge forward in unison, yelling their university challenge as they charged. Short forward passes, line and delayed line ducks were the most practiced plays.

For game day in 1919, 35 newspapers from all over the country sent writers to Pasadena, five leased news wires were installed in the 120-foot-long press box, half a dozen commercial wires were put in to carry the “specials” from the writers, and six specially equipped long-distance telephone sets were arranged to beam news direct to the papers.

In Southern Oregon, fans stopped by the Mail Tribune office, where the news crew used the company’s newswires to post game bulletins in the lobby.

Medford’s Rialto Theater (later the Joseph Winans furniture story) had a telegraph line installed in the theater. While the matinée film played, an on-stage Western Union operator continually read a play-by-play description of the action.

The 1919 game proved to be a grind, with both teams fumbling and missing field goal attempts in the first quarter before Oregon managed the first points on a 25-yard dropkick field goal by Bill Steers in the second quarter.

Harvard scored on a 13-yard run by Fred Church on a drive that was keyed by two catches by halfback Eddie Casey. Arnold Horween added the extra point, which would prove critical as Oregon could manage only one more score, a 30-yard dropkick field goal by 128-pound Skeet Manerud to close the first half.

Four other Oregon kicks were blocked or missed in what would end as a 7-6 setback, including a fourth-quarter Manerud attempt that just missed its mark in front of 35,000 on hand for the first post-World War I Rose Bowl game that didn’t feature teams from the U.S. armed forces.

Harvard capped its season 9-0-1, outscoring its opponents 229-19, while Oregon finished 5-2 after securing its first conference championship in school history.

One hundred years later, for the 106th Rose Bowl, Oregon’s roster had ballooned to 115 players, with a contingent of 250 marching band members and dozens of school officials on hand following plane flights that lasted mere hours.

On this New Year’s Day, a crowd of 90,462 made its way into the Rose Bowl, which was constructed in 1922 and has seen several upgrades since, including a near $200 million renovation completed in 2013 that provided a seven-level press box.

Another 16.3 million watched the contest live on ESPN, with millions of others tuning in through various radio broadcasts.

Facing another favored foe in Wisconsin, the Ducks used three touchdown runs from quarterback Justin Herbert, standing all of 6-foot-6 and 237 pounds, and a 31-yard return by Brady Breeze (6-0, 196) off a blocked punt to derail the Badgers for a 28-27 triumph.

Herbert, a senior from Eugene, was named offensive MVP after completing 14 of 20 passes for 138 yards and one interception to go with his big rushing day, which included a 30-yard, go-ahead TD scamper in the fourth quarter.

Breeze, a junior who grew up in Medford before moving to Lake Oswego as a high-schooler, was named defensive MVP for the PAC-12 Conference champion Ducks in their eighth Rose Bowl appearance.