The Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game in college football and today marks the 102nd edition.

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First played as the Tournament East-West football game on this date in 1902, the game was designed to help fund the cost of the Rose Parade, which had started on New Year’s Day eleven years earlier. The 1902 game was so lopsided that, for the next 13 years, it was replaced by chariot and ostrich races and has been played annually since 1916. The first eight Rose Bowl Games were played in Pasadena’s Tournament Park, three miles southwest of the current venue, but the park’s temporary stands were unable to handle the growing crowds that the game was attracting, so the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association– the game’s organizer—sought to build a better stadium. In 1923, the game was played in the Rose Bowl for the first time and has been contested there annually ever since, with the exception of 1942, when it was moved to Duke University’s home stadium due to security concerns on the West Coast following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor three-and-a-half weeks earlier.

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The Rose Bowl stadium was designed after the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut. Originally called “Tournament of Roses Stadium” or “Tournament of Roses Bowl,” the name “Rose Bowl” was settled on prior to the inaugural game in 1923. Located in the San Gabriel Mountains in the Arroyo Seco [“Dry Stream”] section of Pasadena, California, the Rose Bowl once had more seats than any football stadium in the United States. Today, it seats 92,542, making it the 11th largest stadium in America. The Rose Bowl stadium is adjacent to Brookside Golf and Country Club and is recognized as a United States Historic Landmark. The stadium’s name has given rise to the term “bowl game” for all postseason games, regardless of the venue’s contour. Rose Bowl stadium has hosted five Super Bowls, two FIFA World Cup finals, Olympic cycling and soccer, the 1983 Army-Navy game [Daily Dose, December 11] and has been the home field for UCLA since 1982. The natural grass surface, intimacy, configuration and proximity to the San Gabriel Mountains make Rose Bowl stadium unique. In 2007, Sports Illustrated named the Rose Bowl the number one venue in college sports.

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The Rose Bowl Game—dubbed “The Granddaddy of Them All” by the great Keith Jackson, who called the game 15 times over the course of his Hall of Fame career—is the oldest bowl game. It has traditionally hosted the conference champions from the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences [or their predecessors] but, beginning in 2015, became part of the College Football Playoff system and will host one of its semi-final games every three years. During non-playoff years, the Rose Bowl will feature a Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup. USC has played in the most Rose Bowl games [33] and collected the most wins [24]. Michigan has played in 20 Rose Bowls and lost 12, more than any team in the game’s 102 year history. The Rose Bowl Game has featured the number-one ranked team in the nation 12 times and three games have featured the two most highly-ranked teams, most recently in 2006, when second-ranked Texas beat number-one USC, 41-38, in one of the greatest Rose Bowl games ever played. Nine men have played and coached in a Rose Bowl game and John Cooper [Daily Dose, November 4] is the only coach to win the Rose Bowl game with both a Big Ten [Ohio State, 1997] and Pac-10 [Arizona State, 1987] team.

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On this date in 1902, the University of Michigan, representing the East and coached by the legendary Fielding Yost, defeated Stanford University 49-0. Stanford, whom Yost had coached the previous year, came into the contest with a record of 3-1-2 but quit in the third quarter. Michigan finished the season 11-0 and was crowned national champion.

“If there are any Big Ten teams that shoot for a national championship, they’re damn fools…You play to win the Big Ten championship, and if you win it and go to the Rose Bowl and win it, then you’ve had a great season.”


– Glenn “Bo” Schembechler, former Michigan coach

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