American Football Database
1902 Tournament East-West football game
1st Rose Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
University of Michigan 0 17 32 0 49
Stanford University 0 0 0 0 0
Date January 1, 1902
Season 1901
Stadium Tournament Park
Location Pasadena, California
MVP Neil Snow (Michigan FB)
Attendance 8,500 (estimated, see article)[1][2]
Tournament East-West football game

Originally titled the "Tournament East-West football game," what is now known as the Rose Bowl Game was first played on January 1, 1902 in Pasadena, California, starting the tradition of New Year's Day bowl games.

The inaugural game featured Fielding H. Yost's dominating 1901 Michigan Wolverines football team, representing the East, who crushed a previously 3–1–2 team from Stanford University, representing the West, by a score of 49–0 after Stanford captain Ralph Fisher requested to quit with eight minutes remaining. Michigan finished the season 11–0 and was considered a national champion. Yost had been Stanford's coach the previous year.

Organization of the game

The Tournament of Roses Parade began in 1890 as a New Year's Day tradition in the City of Pasadena. The city boosters were exploring a way to bring in tourism and money to the area. The Tournament of Roses Association president, James Wagner, guaranteed $3,500 to cover the expenses of bringing the football teams of the University of Michigan and Stanford University to Pasadena to play. The admission price was 50 cents to $1 to see the game. An additional $1 would be charged to admit a family's horse and buggy to the grounds. The game was played in Tournament Park, where temporary stands were built.

Tournament Park


The very first Rose Bowl Game

Before the Rose Bowl stadium was built for the 1923 Rose Bowl, games were played in Pasadena's Tournament Park, approximately three miles southeast of the current stadium.

Tournament Park is now a private park maintained by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. It was simply known as the "town lot" before being renamed Tournament Park in 1900.[3]


Stanford had played the Olympic Club and Reliance Club twice, beating and tying each. They beat Nevada, 12–0, then lost to Cal in the eleventh Big Game, 2–0.

The 1901 Michigan Wolverines football team was nicknamed the "Point-a-Minute" team when they came to Pasadena to play the game. The Wolverines had racked up 501 points while allowing their opponents no points at all. The 49 points they scored in the 1902 Rose Bowl game brought their season total to 550 to 0.

Game summary

  • The playing field was 110 yards long
  • Touchdowns counted five points, field goals five, and conversions one
  • The game was divided into two thirty minute halves
  • A team had to make five yards in three downs to make a first down
  • Forward passes were not allowed
  • Substitutions were used infrequently as 11 men usually played the entire game
  • The game ended with eight minutes remaining on the clock upon request of Stanford captain Ralph Fisher and by agreement with Michigan team captain Hugh White.


First half

Second half

  • Michigan – Snow 2-yard run (kick failed) 22–0
  • Michigan – Redden 25-yard fumble recovery (Shorts kick) 28–0
  • Michigan – Snow 8-yard run (kick failed) 33–0
  • Michigan – Snow 17-yard run (kick failed) 38–0
  • Michigan – Snow 4-yard run (Shorts kick) 44–0
  • Michigan – Albert E. Herrnstein 21-yard field goal (kick failed) 49–0

Game records

Team Performance vs. Opponent Year
Rushing yards 503, Michigan vs. Stanford 1902


The game was so lopsided that for the next 15 years, the Tournament of Roses officials ran chariot races, ostrich races, and other various events instead of football.[4] But, on New Year's Day 1916 football returned to stay as Washington State University defeated Brown University in the first annual Tournament of Roses football game. At Stanford, rugby replaced football from the 1906 season through the 1917 season.[5]

In record keeping, Neil Snow's five touchdowns are noted along with the "modern" Rose Bowl record of four touchdowns held by Eric Ball, Sam Cunningham, and Ron Dayne. Snow was named the Most Valuable Player of the game when the award was created in 1953 and selections were made retroactively.[6]

The initial attendance has varied according to different sources. The ESPN BCS article lists the attendance as 8,500.[7] The Michigan football media guide and Michigan articles list the attendance as 8,000.[1][2] The Official 2007 NCAA Division I football records book lists the attendance at 8,000.[8]

Tournament park would be the site for the second to eighth Rose Bowl Games from 1916 to 1922 before the Rose Bowl stadium opened for the 1923 Rose Bowl.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1902 Rose Bowl - University of Michigan
  2. 2.0 2.1 University of Michigan football media guide - PDF copy available at
  3. "Tournament of Roses History". Archived from the original on 02 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  4. Bowl Games: College Football's Greatest Tradition, by Robert Ours, 2004, pgs. 3-4
  5. Stanford football media guide - PDF copy available at
  6. 2008 Rose Bowl Program, 2008 Rose Bowl. Accessed 26 January 2008.
  7. Dan O'Sullivan - Bowl Championship Series - 1902 - Michigan 49, Stanford 0. December 13, 2002
  8. Official 2007 NCAA Division I football records book - PDF copy available at


  • Maxwell Stiles - The Rose Bowl: A Complete Action and Pictorial Exposition of Rose Bowl Football, Sportsmaster Publications (1946), ASIN: B0007FBNU4
  • America's New Year Celebration (The Rose Parade & Rose Bowl Game). Albion Publishing Group Santa Barbara, CA 1999. ISBN 1-880352-62-1
  • The Rose Bowl Game by Rube Samuelsen. Doubleday Company and Inc. 1951. ASIN: B0007DZXFC

External links