Historic 1965 College Bowl victory gave PSU national visibility, local credibility

The original team that put Portland State College on the map.
Jim Westwood is bottom row, second from the right.

By PSU Social Media Contributor

In 1965, Portland State College was virtually unknown on a national level. Then a group of nerdy college students rose up and shocked the TV quiz-show world.

Starting in January, the team made an undefeated run through the New York-based G.E. College Bowl quiz game — one of the nation’s most popular TV shows at the time — by beating every one of its opponents in record fashion.

The climax came on March 8, when the team defeated Birmingham Southern “in what NBC producers said was the ‘most outstanding team performance’ in College Bowl history,” according to the story in The Oregonian the next morning.

Afterward, the state legislature invited the team to Salem, and team member Jim Westwood (’67) addressed the Senate and House. Later that month, Time magazine ran an article on how the College Bowl victories helped change Portland State College’s image. “The floodgates opened for higher education funding and the college became PSU a few years later,” says Westwood. “I think the College Bowl really helped turn the corner for PSU.”

This fall, Portland State invited Westwood and other alumni back to campus to re-live the glory and excitement from the historic win.

This fall’s College Bowl event featured PSU friends and alumni, including Pulitzer-winning columnist Jack Ohman (’99), third from the left, who interviewed Westwood, second from left.

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