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Francis Wallace's novel was first published as a serial in Collier's under the title Odds Against Honor (26 October 1935-14 December 1935). Wallace was a former sports writer for the New York Daily News. According to onscreen credits, player Jay Berwanger attended the University of Chicago; William Shakespeare, Notre Dame; Robert Wilson, Southern Methodist; Irwin Klein, New York University; Gomer Jones, Ohio State; Chuck Bennis, University of Illinois, and James Moscrip, Robert Hamilton and Frank Alustiza, Stanford University. For this production, RKO borrowed Andy Devine from Universal, June Travis from Warner Bros., and Bruce Cabot from M-G-M. Novelist Irwin Shaw, who had just won acclaim on Broadway for his one-act play "Bury the Dead," made his screenwriting debut with the picture. According to Motion Picture Herald's "In the Cutting Room," scenes for the film were shot at several Southern California university campuses and at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. A Hollywood Reporter news item announced that RKO had purchased from independent producer Sam Katzman 1,000 feet of film taken at the 1935 Rose Bowl game. Motion Picture Herald's "In the Cutting Room" adds Red Cagle as a cast member, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to Variety, the idea for the riot scene in the picture came from an actual on-the-field melee that took place at a New York University-Fordham University football game.