Rose Bowl Game


The “grand-daddy of all bowl games,” as it’s often called, originated as an extra added attraction to Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses.

The game was first played in 1902, pitting Michigan against Stanford, but after Michigan’s 49-0 win over Stanford, Tournament of Roses officials did not stage another game until 1916, when instead of a football game, chariot races were held. The Tournament also includes the Tournament of Roses Parade featuring floats covered with flowers and plants. 

this is an image of rose bowl game

Pasadena’s Tournament Park

Before the Rose Bowl stadium was built in 1923, games were played in Pasadena’s Tournament Park, approximately three miles southeast of the current stadium. For many years the game was televised by NBC in a 1 p.m. PST time slot, the only New Year’s bowl airing at that time. Since 1988, it has been broadcast on ABC.

From 1922 through 1945, the Rose Bowl pitted the Pacific Coast Conference champion against an at-large opponent, usually from the East. Starting with the 1946 season, the bowl featured the Pac-10 and Big Ten champions.

In the game’s early years (except during World War I), it always featured a team — not necessarily the conference champion — from the Pacific Coast Conference (ancestor to today’s Pacific 10), as well as a team invited from further east. 

Big Ten and Pac-10 Conferences

Beginning with the 1947 game, the game’s participants were established as the champions of what is now the Big Ten and Pac-10 Conferences. Since 1998, however, with the creation of the Bowl Championship Series system, team selection for the Rose Bowl is now tied into the other three BCS Bowls, although in any given year the Rose Bowl still attempts, if possible, to maintain the traditional Pac-10-Big Ten format. The 2002 game of Nebraska (Big 12 Conference) and Miami (who were members of the Big East at that time) was the first since 1946 not featuring either the traditional pairing.

BCS National Championship Game

Starting with the 2007 BCS, the stadium hosting the traditional bowl game will also host the new stand-alone BCS National Championship Game one week later, meaning that the next time the self-named stadium will host the title game will be on January 8, 2010. While FOX got the rights to the other three games in negotiations with the BCS, ABC retained the rights to the Rose Bowl Game for themselves.

Years listed below indicate the January game date; for example, the 2003 game was played following the 2002 football season. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 1942 game was moved to Duke University’s Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina due to World War II security threats, as officials were wary of allowing such a large crowd to congregate anywhere on the West Coast and risking another Japanese attack.

first meeting between the two teams

The impact of the BCS on the Rose Bowl matchups has resulted in the initial participation by several teams, even in years when the BCS National Championship Game is not contested there. The 2003 Rose Bowl game featured the first appearance by Oklahoma. The 2005 bowl featured Michigan against Texas, which was selected — amid some controversy — over California, a Pac-10 school, from the final at-large bid. Despite the controversy, this was a milestone for Texas and Michigan as it marked the first meeting between the two teams. It was also the first appearance — and victory — by Texas in the Rose Bowl.

The 2006 game, which was played for the national championship, featured offensive powerhouses Texas (in its second straight Rose Bowl appearance and second appearance overall, holding a 19-game winning streak) and Southern California (attempting to become only the second school to claim three straight national championships and further its 34-game winning streak in its 30th Rose Bowl appearance, the most by any school). Texas won 41-38 on a touchdown in the closing seconds. Several sports analysts soon after the game were naming it among the most exciting championship bowl games, though it is unclear if this distinction will hold over time or is merely a case of proximity. In terms of number of TV viewers, it was the highest-rated college football game since the 1987 Fiesta Bowl between Penn State and Miami.

sponsor’s name

For years the game bucked tradition by going without a sponsor, but in 1998, the game became known as The Rose Bowl Game presented by AT&T and in 2002 as The Rose Bowl Game presented by PlayStation 2. Since 2003, when the agreement with Sony expired, the game has been presented by citi. The Rose Bowl still spurns the sponsorship tradition to a degree, as the sponsor’s name is listed less prominently than in other bowl games. In other bowls, the sponsor’s name is listed first and as part of the game’s name, rather than merely as the presenter of the game.

With the formation of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), if either conference champion is ranked #1 or #2, that champion will play in the BCS championship game and will be replaced by that conference’s second-ranked team. The Rose Bowl hosted the BCS championship game in 2002 and 2005. The Rose Bowl is slated to host the BCS championship in 2010.