AP Was There: Harvard wins 1920 Rose Bowl, beats Oregon 7-6
One hundred years ago, college football was still dominated by leather helmet-wearing Ivy Leaguers who played both offense and defense. The forward pass had been legalized about a dozen years earlier, but the outcomes were still largely decided by the running and kicking games.
It was in this environment that the Pasadena, California, Tournament of Roses decided to invite the top teams from the East and West to play in a game that was not yet called the Rose Bowl. Although the first one was held in 1902, Michigan’s 49-0 victory over Stanford convinced organizers to shelve the plan until 1916.
Since then, the game has been played every year. During World War I, teams from military bases were brought in. When college football returned in earnest for the 1919 season, once-tied Harvard emerged as the top team in the East, with unbeaten Oregon coming out of the West.
In the sixth Tournament East-West Football Game, on Jan. 1, 1920, Fred Church scored the game’s only touchdown on a 13-yard run in the second quarter. Oregon made it a one-point game before the half, then missed three drop-kick field goal attempts in the second.
Here is part of the story that The Associated Press sent its member newspapers, as printed the following day in The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review: