Hump Day Deep Dive #3- The First College Bowl Game

College Bowl Season is upon us, a nearly month-long parade of obscurely named games in even more obscurely named place. In the storied history of College Bowl Season there have been some gems, the Advocare V100 Independence/Texas bowl (a pyramid scheme), the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (there are no Popeyes in the Bahamas), and the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (The Venn Diagram of people who watch G5 bowl games and buy Bitcoin is just two separate circles.)


(May I interest you in some fruity vitamin gummies?)

But how did this all start? From a man who enjoyed eating out of bowls so much that he wanted to watch a football game in one? Possibly. Was it from somebody in a hot air balloon, that looked suspiciously like the monopoly man, describing a stadium when looked on from above as “a large bowl full of tiny people? It’s likely. Was it started as entertainment for a parade much like the football games played on Thanksgiving? Well, let’s take a look.

In 1902, the fabled Tournament of Roses Parade needed a source of entertainment that wasn’t the traditional ostrich races tug of war competitions. Parade organizer James Wagner thought bringing the best football teams from the east and the west to clash head-to-head would be a great idea. And boy was he wrong. Michigan, the representative of the East, took on Stanford in a true stinker of a game.

michigan 1902

(Michigan 1902)

Michigan was known as the “Point-a-Minute” team, and they really knew how to pour it on. They finished the 1901-02 season with a whopping 550 points in 11 games (including this game). They also did not let up a single point at any time during that season. It was thought to be a good idea to bring in a 3-1-2 Stanford team to run into this past iteration of the Alabama Crimson Tide. To be frank, it did not go well. Michigan went up 49-0 before Stanford players quit and Captain Ralph “Human Embodiment of Smokey the Bear” Fisher threw in the towel.

stanford 1902.jpg

(Stanford 1902)

This was the revenge tour of Fielding H. “Peaky Blinders extra” Yost. The season prior he had coached at Stanford and was now facing his former team. His Wolverines finished the game with 527 rushing yards on 90 attempts (forward passes were not legal) and Stanford finished with only 67 yards.


The game was played on a 110-yard field and scoring at the time was 5 points per touchdown or field goal and only one-point conversions. A game like this is like watching the love child of the Army-Navy game on steroids with any MAC game, with 594 yards rushing and 37 punts it would make anyone want to strap on a helmet and neckroll and run up the middle for hours on end in a rural Illinois corn field.

1902 rose bowl.jpg

(That is how you run power)

This game was so lopsided that football was not played at the Tournament of Roses for another 14 years when Washington State played Brown University in 2016. For some reason, people thought it was a better idea to watch ostrich races than a bastardized version of rugby that had bizarre scoring rules and almost an equally bad algorithm for determining champions as there is today.

So what can we learn from this? That if it was not for the heroic actions of one Fielding H. Yost to join a super team and take down his old squad in the most embarrassing way possible, then Kevin Durant would have nobody to base his decision off of. Thank you, Mr. Yost, for ruining the NBA.

yost 2


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