At the conclusion of every NCAA season, college football fans enjoy a multiplicity of well-matched showdowns featuring virtually every team with a winning record. Bowl games have become as much as a holiday tradition as Christmas cookies and New Year resolutions.This year, we’ll witness 35 matchups, with 10 still to come this week. As you prepare for a week loaded with old-fashioned, hardknock football, we took a brief look into the rich history of the bowl championship heritage.
The dawn of college bowl games began in 1902 in Pasadena, California with the Tournament East-West Football Game between Michigan and Stanford in Rose Bowl Stadium. Now referred to as the first Rose Bowl, this championship sparked the beginning of bowl season, with a legacy remaining as the one that started it all. Today, fans are treated to 30 plus bowl games every year.
Before the President of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses brought America’s favorite rising pastime to Pasadena, the town enjoyed a tradition of sporting tournaments for nearly 11 years. The contests included foot races, polo matches and even greased pig racing.
Michigan defeated Stanford 49-0 what was deemed the first bowl game in January 1, 1902. Stanford returns to the Rose Bowl this year to challenge Michigan’s interstate counterparts, Michigan State.
After the first meeting, the Rose Bowl went into a 14 year hiatus until it was brought back in 1916 in a face-off between Washington State and Brown.
The Rose Bowl remained the only major bowl game in college football for decades. By 1940, four other major games had joined the ranks of the Rose, including the Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Sun Bowl.
Next year will be the first year since its inception that the hub of all the bowl games, the National Championship, will be decided by a 4-game playoff system.