Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The 110th Rose Bowl: Alabama’s and Michigan’s histories in ‘The Granddaddy of Them All’

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama football head coach Nick Saban holds the trophy from the Rose Bowl game against Notre Dame on January 1, 2021.

On Monday, Alabama and Michigan will face off in the 110th Rose Bowl. Here’s a look back at the storied past of “The Granddaddy of Them All” and these two teams’ histories in the Tournament of Roses.  

The Rose Parade was held every New Year’s Day beginning in 1890. Originally, there was no football game, just a parade followed by events such as donkey and bicycle races. That was until a new plan was proposed. 

“For twelve years the Tournament has lived with nothing to show after holding each program but the memory of a successful day,” the 1901 Tournament of Roses Association President James Wagner said. “The present plan not only assures a financial success, it does more. It brings together two football teams of national reputation, Stanford and Michigan, which will generate an item of news on the morning of January 2.” 

Michigan appeared in the first Rose Bowl in 1902 and dominated Stanford 49-0 en route to an undefeated season and the program’s second national championship. Due to the lopsided outcome, the game took a 13-year hiatus before returning as an annual event in 1916.  

Alabama made its first appearance in the Rose Bowl in 1926. This was the first time a team from the South had been invited. The Crimson Tide took on Washington hoping to finish off its undefeated season.  Then-head coach Wallace Wade led Alabama to defeat the Huskies 20-19 and capture the program’s first national championship.  

The Crimson Tide returned to the Rose Bowl the very next year to face the Stanford Cardinal. The game finished in a 7-7 tie, but Alabama ended the season with a share of the national championship. 

In both those games, Alabama was touted as the underdog. Both games Alabama returned from the game having proved to the whole nation that the Crimson Tide was a national powerhouse.  The Alabama fight song, “Yea, Alabama,” was inspired by the success of the team in these two games with the words “Remember the Rose Bowl, we’ll win then.” 

Alabama appeared in four more Rose Bowls before the game was restricted to the champions of the Big Ten and the Pacific Coast Conference (now the Pac-12) from 1947-2001. In those four contests, Alabama won three out of four, defeating Washington State, Stanford and Southern California. The only loss came to California in 1938, which remains Alabama’s only loss in the Rose Bowl.  

As for the Wolverines, this will be Michigan’s 21st appearance in the Rose Bowl. After appearing in the first-ever Rose Bowl, the school failed to reach the Rose Bowl for 46 years. In 1947, the Wolverines rolled into Pasadena and throttled the Southern California Trojans 49-0. They were consequentially named national champions. Two Rose Bowls, two 49-0 victories and two national championship seasons.  

Michigan returned in 1951 and 1965, winning both games under coaches Bennie Oosterbaan and Bump Elliott. Another victory came in 1981, this time from head coach Bo Schembechler, who broke through behind running back Butch Woolfolk’s MVP-winning performance.  

Head coaches Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr each led their own Michigan squads to a Rose Bowl victory. In 1993, Michigan faced the Washington Huskies looking for revenge after losing to them the previous year in the Rose Bowl. Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac found wide receiver Tony McGee for a 15-yard game-winning touchdown pass.   

After losing his first two bowl games as head coach, Carr won four bowl games in a row, including the 1998 Rose Bowl, in which Michigan won its last national championship.  That was Michigan’s last victory in the Rose Bowl.  The Wolverines are on a three-game losing streak in the game with losses in 2004, 2005 and 2007, twice to Southern California and once to Texas.  

“I’ve been a part of a lot of bowl games, but this is one I’ve never been a part of,” Michigan offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore said. “It’s really special and I think that’s a moment you really have to take in.” 

Alabama was welcomed back to the Rose Bowl in 2010, when the BCS national championship versus Texas was played there. In that game, the Crimson Tide captured its first national championship under Nick Saban. In the 2020-21 season, Alabama stopped in Arlington, Texas, for a pandemic edition of the Rose Bowl and beat Notre Dame 31-14 on its path to another championship. 

“I know how iconic the Rose Bowl is, you know, I grew up watching the game, so it is just a very good opportunity for me and my teammates,” Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner said. “A lot of people on our team have never been out west, so it is going to be a good experience for everybody.”  

Michigan showed the West that the East was king in the first Rose Bowl in 1901, and Alabama proved the South was for real in college football in 1926; now, these two powerhouses will attempt to prove in this year’s Rose Bowl whether the Big Ten or SEC rules the college football world. 

More to Discover