10 Unlikely College Football Bowl Winners

Columbia used trickery to stun Stanford 7-0 in the 1934 Rose Bowl.

Way back in simpler times, long before SportsCenter, BCS and the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, there were four major bowl games. played like clockwork, year after year, on New Year’s Day. Rose, Orange, Sugar and Cotton.

The Granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl, began in 1902, when Michigan routed Stanford, 49-0. The following year, polo replaced football as the sports attraction. From 1904 through 1915, the Tournament of Roses held chariot races, but dwindling interest and economic factors persuaded the return to football as the main attraction in 1916.

That year, Washington beat Brown, 14-0; the following year Oregon defeated Penn by the same score.

In today’s world of major college football, Ivy League schools like Brown and Penn would never see the light of the Rose Bowl. Nor would Bucknell, which defeated Miami of Florida 26-0 in the inaugural Orange Bowl in 1935. That same year, Tulane edged Temple 20-14 in the first Sugar Bowl.

Here are 10 schools you’d never suspect once won a major bowl game”

1918 Rose Bowl
The Mare Island Marines defeated Camp Lewis Army 19-7 as service teams supplied the competition for war-time continuance of the Tournament of Roses game.

1919 Rose Bowl
The Great Lakes Navy, led by future NFL Hall of Famers Paddy Driscoll, who passed for a touchdown and George Halas, who scored twice, beat Mare Island 17-0.

1920 Rose Bowl
Unbeaten but once tied Harvard defeated Oregon by a 7-6 margin on Arnold Horween’s kick for an extra point following a 12-yard touchdown run by Fred Church.

1934 Rose Bowl
In a stunning upset, Columbia resorted to a bit of trickery, right, by legendary coach Lou Little to upset Stanford 7-0. Al Barabas skirts 17 yards completely unmolested or detected on a hidden ball play to score the winning touchdown.

1935 Orange Bowl
The first Orange Bowl game was a blowout, Bucknell defeating Miami of Florida 26-0. The game was broadcast on CBS Radio, and recognition for south Florida was amply raised during the inaugural year.

1936 Orange Bowl
Catholic University
held off a late rally by Ole Miss to prevail 20-19. Cardinal fans in D.C. managed to sweep up President Franklin Roosevelt on his way to church during a 3,000-person victory parade up Pennsylvania Avenue.

1937 Orange Bowl
A desperation 72-yard touchdown pass from tailback Boyd Brumbaugh to Ernie Hefferle spelled an end to Mississippi State’s hopes as Duquesne edged the Bulldogs 13-12.

1937 Sugar Bowl
Santa Clara
beat LSU two years in a row, 21-14 in 1937 and 6-0 in 1948. The Broncos also knocked off Babe Parilli and Kentucky 21-13 in the 1950 Orange Bowl.

1939 Cotton Bowl
St. Mary’s
20 forced eight turnovers, built up a 20-0 lead and held off the Red Raiders for a 20-13 victory.

1942 Sugar Bowl
Fordham nipped Missouri 2-0 in a game played in the rain and mud of New Orleans. The only points came in the first quarter when Fordham’s Alex Santilli blocked a punt and Stanley Ritinksi tracked it down, sliding through the end zone and out-of-bounds for a safety.

Some unlikely major bowl losers in addition to Brown and Penn in the Rose Bowl were Marquette, which lost to TCU 16-6 in the first Cotton Bowl; Carnegie Tech which lost to TCU 15-7 in the 1939 Sugar Bowl; and Georgetown, which fell to Mississippi State 14-7 in the 1941 Orange Bowl.

In the 1946 Orange Bowl, the winning touchdown for Miami of Florida came after time had expired. With the score tied 6-6, a pass by Holy Cross quarterback Gene DeFilippo was deflected into the arms of defensive back Al Hudson, who returned the ball 89 yards for the winning touchdown as the Hurricanes won 13-6.

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2 Comments on “10 Unlikely College Football Bowl Winners”

  1. […] 1. What year did Catholic play in the Orange Bowl and what was the score? This is easy because it’s the pinnacle of Catholic U. football — 20-19 in 1936. I look back at that 1935 season and it’s just amazing how football has changed, but for a few years there, CU was trying to be big-time. They drew well, played their home games in a relatively large bowled stadium on campus that sat about 10,000. The remnants of that stadium were there when I got to campus as a freshman, used as a parking lot. The bleachers were still there. Would have been a great spot for a stadium but the law school brings in more money (and is certainly a higher priority at CUA these days). I do still have some media guides, especially the ones I wrote or had a hand in designing. (Fury: He’s obviously right. Catholic defeated Ole Miss.) […]


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