One of the towering UCLA teams of all time featuring the dream backfield of Gary Beban & Mel Far, a team that had crushed Pittsburgh 57-14, destroyed Syracuse 31-12, a then highly regarded Dan Devine coached Missouri and later beat Joe Paterno's Penn State 49-11. UCLA came into Rice ranked #2, only behind Michigan State, the team the Bruins had shocked the world upsetting in the '66 Rose Bowl.
But these highly regarded Bruins, considered Rice a mere field trip practice respite v. a team so forlorn that President Kennedy waxed its plight by comparing Rice's playing Texas to men aspiring the near impossible.. to walk on the moon. Well for awhile, it looked like the #2 Bruins would become 'the Moon" for lowly Rice, as Prothro's dream team found themselves grappling in the humidity with Rice Coach Jess Neely's last team. The vaunted Bruins looked like they were stuck on a hot mopped roof most of the game, careening towards a stunning 20-24 upset deep in the 4th quarter, when Gary Beban threw a miracle pass into the endzone that gave the appearance of piercing through the body of a Rice defender into the unsuspecting hands of Hal Busby, who remained on the ground wildly genuflecting. The Bruins got out of there 27-24, though the unforgiving AP pollsters took notice, demoting the Bruins two places to #4 in the next poll behind Alabama & ND. (UCLA did make it back to #3 before being upset by the Z streak revenge "all or nothing" WA Huskies in the rain later in the season, but that's another story.)
Hopefully the Rice game today will spell for UCLA a first step now in its own aspiration of getting out of its lost decade and back to the exalted higher but recently impossible Moon orbit of football it once rightfully occupied.