Rich History Of Prestigious Rose Bowl Game

Dec 30, 2021, 4:12 PM
Rose Bowl Trophy...
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

PASADENA, Calif. – When the University of Utah Utes take the field at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, they’ll be running into a story with more than 100 years of history behind it.

The first Rose Bowl, known at the time as the Tournament East-West Football Game was played in Pasadena, Calif. On January 1, 1902. The game was added to the Tournament of Roses celebration after more than a decade of other sporting events, like Ostrich races, were held as a part of the tournament.

The game between Stanford and Michigan brought an estimated 8,500 fans to Tournament Park but it was Michagan’s fans who left happy. The 10-0 Wolverines came into the game with a season of shutouts behind them. No team had scored against them and they continued the streak against Stanford, routing the Cardinal 49-0. The stomping was so bad that Stanford’s coach crossed the field with 8 minutes left and conceded, ending the game early and giving the inevitable victory to Michigan who ended their season 11-0, outscoring opponents 550-0.

The Rose Bowl Tournament Associations worried the first-year routing would discourage future fans and the post-parade football game was replaced with a chariot race the following year. The Rose Bowl football game wasn’t played again until 1916. It has been played every year since, making it the longest running and oldest post-season college football game in the country, garnering it the nickname “The Granddaddy of Them All”.

“The Rose Bowl is the bowl game that you grow up watching with your whole family on New Years’ Day,” Utah Wide Receiver Britain Covey said about the game. “New Years’ Day is the one day that my mom gives to my dad to freely, guiltlessly just relax, kick his feet back and watch football… so it’s huge and to be there the first time in program history, we’re not taking it lightly.”

The Rose Bowl can claim many firsts in its 120 year history. It was the first nationally televised college football game in 1952 and the first coast-to-coast color telecast of college football in 1962.

The game of football has changed significantly since that first game in 1902. The field was 110-yards long, forward passes were not allowed and teams had to go five-yards in three downs to get a first down. Touchdowns and field-goals were both worth 5 points and conversions were one-point. Under the modern scoring system the final score would have been 52-0.

The Rose Bowl stadium as it stands today saw its first New Years’ Day game in 1923. Previous games were played just a few miles away at Tournament Park. The iconic stadium is now listed as a National Historic Landmark. Its official capacity is 92, 542 though games have recorded as many as 94,000 fans. It’s currently the largest stadium in the nation that hosts post-season bowl games.

Utah and Ohio State will play in the 108th Rose Bowl Game on Saturday, January 1, 2022 at 3 p.m. MT on ESPN.

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Rich History Of Prestigious Rose Bowl Game