End Of An Era: Penn State Versus Utah The Last ‘Traditional’ Rose Bowl Game

Dec 30, 2022, 6:26 PM
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: A general view of the stadium as the sun sets as the Oregon Duck...
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: A general view of the stadium as the sun sets as the Oregon Ducks play the Wisconsin Badgers during the fourth quarter in the Rose Bowl game presented by Northwestern Mutual at Rose Bowl on January 01, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Michael Heiman/2020 Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Heiman/2020 Getty Images)

PASADENA, CA– “The Grandaddy of them All” had humble beginnings in 1902 but has survived 109 years of history like a rose out of concrete. Two World Wars, a Cold War, many Presidents, social issues and a pandemic later it feels in a way, like we are saying “good-bye” to a dear old friend who has seen us through the best of times and the worst of times. No matter what has been going on in the world, we could all put it aside for a minute on January 1 of the new year and enjoy the “Tournament of Roses”.


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In 2024 the Rose Bowl will still exist, but it will have a facelift. It will most likely no longer take place on January 1 and won’t always feature the top schools from the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences as it makes its transition as part of the new 12-team College Football Playoff.

Having the last “traditional” Rose Bowl feature an old power in Penn State who first appeared in the Rose Bowl in 1923 and an up-and-comer in the college football world in Utah who made their first trip last season, feels like an appropriate way to usher in a new era for the prestigious bowl game.

Utah’s Place In The Long History Of The Rose Bowl

With over a century of great stories and personalities coming through the hallowed halls of the Rose Bowl, Utah has certainly found its place in the bowl game’s lore despite their more recent appearances.

Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, all the Utes could dream about was the day they would be able to win their first Conference Championship and go to the Rose Bowl. That day came exactly a decade later off of a lot of hard work from coaches and players who came before and paved the path for Utah to be a true Power Five School from humble Mountain West Conference beginnings.

More impressively though, Utah football’s first trip to the Rose Bowl came off of the face of incredible adversity- the tragic deaths of teammates Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe within nine months of each other that season. The Utes’ compelling story of love and togetherness while processing the unthinkable only added to the mysticism of what is already an incredible game.


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While Utah came up short in their first Rose Bowl experience to Ohio State, they managed to leave a deep impression on the bowl game and the nation. Producing an exciting game that many said was the best Rose Bowl game since USC and Texas faced off in 2006 is high praise for the “new kid in town”.

It all led to the helmet the Utes wore being placed in the Rose Bowl Museum in the stadium over the summer and having two memorial bricks laid for Jordan and Lowe outside of Gate A just before Utah arrived for their second appearance in “The Grandaddy of them All”.

The Next Episode

The latest chapter of Utah’s short history with the Rose Bowl will be written in a few days. It may very well include the Utes being the last team to win the bowl the way most of us will fondly remember it by.

What will the future hold exactly for the Rose Bowl afterward? We will all have to wait and see. With any luck ushering in this new era of college football and including a very old and cherished tradition in it will help keep some of the magic alive that lately has felt like it’s been slipping away.


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College football has been changing fast- maybe too fast and it may be taking the Rose Bowl with it. Or maybe the Rose Bowl being included is a way to slow the rest of it down. A reminder of the good ol’ days when no matter how crazy life was, there was always the Rose Bowl to look forward to on New Year’s Day. A continued beacon of hope and beauty for another 109 years before the realities that face us all settle in for the coming year.


Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports



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End Of An Era: Penn State Versus Utah The Last ‘Traditional’ Rose Bowl Game