Here's another article on the 1942 Rose Bowl, this one by Bill King, University Archivist Emeritus, on how the atmosphere was on campus.
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You have to remember that when the invitation was made, Duke expected to take the train out to Pasadena and have a nice, glamorous California trip. But not long after, on December 7th, Pearl Harbor was bombed and everything changed, with a lot of the men on both teams and on campus knowing they were highly likely to be drafted and to face combat.
It would have been a lot to deal with, to say the least.
By the way, take a good look at the photo with this article to get an idea of how much Duke has changed. The campus in 1942 was still pretty raw. Cameron is there, not quite two years old, but looking very different. The Chapel was only about seven years old.