Our Pac-12 Friday series moves forward another year, and neither the Conference of Champions or its Midwest adversary can claim the mythical national title this season. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an exciting season for either league’s football teams, however!
Here’s our take on it all for 1963 …
1963 AAWU MVP: Bill Douglas, Washington
The Washington Huskies finished atop the conference with a 4-1 league mark, followed closely by the USC Trojans at 3-1. With the Washington head-to-head win over the Trojans, that settled the title debate. Three players—USC running backs Mike Garrett and Willie Brown, as well as Washington quarterback Bill Douglas—dominated the stat sheets.
Garrett (911) and Brown (835) finished 1-2 in the league for yards from scrimmage, and Brown (7) topped the league in scrimmage touchdowns, as well. Garrett scored 5 times himself. Meanwhile, Douglas was second in total yards (1,242) while tossing 6 TDs and only 3 interceptions.
Douglas ran for 313 yards himself, in addition to his passing prowess, and with his best complementary weapon gaining only 542 yards from scrimmage, it’s clear Douglas was the key to the Huskies offense and its success in winning the conference championship—especially with Washington’s 22-7 win over USC standing out. The Trojans duo didn’t step up there, after dominating the rest of the league, so Douglas gets the nod over the teammates.
1963 B1G MVP: Sherman Lewis, Michigan State
The Illinois Fightin’ Illini (5-1-1 league mark) won the conference in a tight race against both Michigan State (4-1-1) and Ohio State (4-1-1). Illinois beat MSU, 13-0, on the road, while tying OSU on the road as well. The Spartans had been undefeated in league play until losing that game in their regular-season finale. The Buckeyes also lost to Northwestern in mid-November to eliminate themselves from title contention.
Despite the loss to Illinois, it’s clear that MSU RB Sherman Lewis was the league’s best player—he finished third in the Heisman voting, too, as he led the B1G in yards from scrimmage (880) and scrimmage TDs (9). No player from Illinois or Ohio State could even come close to those numbers.
Interestingly, Illinois QB Mike Taliaferro tossed just two TD passes while throwing 9 INTs. His total yardage (619) was just barely ahead of his teammate, RB Jim Grabowski (616). The Fightin’ Illini were an underwhelming champion, that’s for sure, but they found a way to win when they had to against Michigan State on the road (see below).
1963 Rose Bowl MVP: Jim Grabowski (original), Dick Butkus (revised)
The Illinois defense was the dominant force in the 17-7 win over the Huskies in Pasadena, as Washington gained just 130 yards total. The Huskies took an early lead, scoring a TD on a trick play after recovering an Illini fumble, but after that it was all Illinois.
Grabowski won the MVP vote at the time for compiling 125 rushing yards and scoring the final TD to put the game away in the fourth quarter, but we also like two-way player Dick Butkus here—spearheading the defensive effort at linebacker with a fumble recovery and an interception, while starting at offensive center as well.
Seems only fair for us to correct this mild voting error, as clearly Grabowski’s efforts were only possible thanks to Butkus’ leadership and play on both sides of the ball—opening holes for his RB to run through and taking the ball away from Washington so his offense could seal the game.