Best Performances in Rose Bowl History

Best Rose Bowl PerformancesThe “Grand Daddy” of all Bowl games is the Rose Bowl, and it has no equal when it comes to pageantry and drama that goes with playing in prestigious games. This is my top ten list of the best performances in Rose Bowl history.  Let’s hope the 2017 edition will have someone make this list.

10. Terrelle Pryor – Ohio State

Great performance from Pryor in a win over Oregon. This was one of the best Rose Bowls.  Pryor passed for 266 yards and ran for another 72. Great player in college, a bust in the NFL.

9. George Halas – Great Lakes Navy

Way back in 1919, Halas had a 77 yard interception that fell just short of the goal line, and he also had a 45 yard catch for a touchdown. Those two feats earned him the title of Player of the Game.

8. Danny O’Neil – Oregon

What a performance by Mr. O’Neil, with over 460 passing yards, and 41 passing attempts for the Ducks, this was a show. His performance was overshadowed by the fact they lost to Penn State. I only wish that their defense would have helped out, since a victory would have given him the game honors.

7. Neil Snow – Michigan

This was the first recorded Rose Bowl. Snow holds the record for the most touchdowns in a game with 5. No one has been able to accomplish that feat since.

6. Charlie Trippi – Georgia

Trippi logged some serious time in this game playing on offense and defense. That dual threat played for almost 60 minutes and on offense he ran the ball for a grand total of 130 yards. A pretty darn good effort!

5. Ron Vander Kelen – Wisconsin

Another offensive standout showing in this game. As a quarterback, Kelen passes for 401 yards on 48 passing attempts. He finished the game with 33 completions. For a game in the 1960’s, I am impressed.

4. Rick Neuheisel – UCLA

For a guy that wasn’t sure he would play, he sure played well. Neuheisel suffered through a bout of food poisoning with a teammate but played well enough to lead the Bruins to a rout of Illinois 45-9. He threw for 4 touchdowns and 298 passing yards.

3. Sam Cunningham – USC

Cunningham didn’t rack up a bunch of yards in this game as a fullback, but his worth came when he scored 4 touchdowns, all in the second half of play. But, those touchdowns helped his team beat up on Ohio State 42-17. By the way, those touchdowns only amassed a total of 5 yards. The fullback dive is a great play after all!

2. Bob Jeter – Iowa

To put it simply, there was never a better effort put forth by a running back. On just 9 carries from scrimmage, Jeter ran for 194 yards. That is averaging over 21 yards per carry. Incredible performance!

1. Ernie Nevers – Stanford

Nevers suffered through two broken ankles and he was placed in casts. Those casts were taken off less than two weeks before the 1925 Rose Bowl game. He ran for 114 yards on 34 carries. Stanford lost the game, though, 27-10, to Notre Dame. That guy is tough as nails. So, he gets the #1 best performance.

Best Rose Bowl Games of All Time

Rose Bowl Best Games

There are many games that happen in the NCAA year round. There are only a few though that make the cut for being the best of the best. We have his list for you right now. Now bare in mind, not all of these games might be your personal favorite, if you follow the NCAA. Hopefully you will find at least one game on the list that you are happy about, maybe even enjoyed.  And we can all agree on one thing.  If the 2017 game makes the list, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Here’s the official breakdown:


This game happened back in 1925. It was between Stanford and Notre Dame. This game makes the list because it’s the first and only time Notre Dame made it to the Rose Bowl. The official score was 27 to 10, with Notre Dame winning.


This happened back in 1929. This was the game when Roy Reigels earns his name. He caught the fumble and ran for the touchdown. He did it in the “wrong way”, hence the name. Roy went on to do other things, but it’s this game that sticks in the history of the NCAA.


This was back in 1941. Coach Clark started the whole T-formation idea. It was more than just an idea. This formation changed the way the Rose Bowl did things. Everyone who plays a role in the NCAA owes something to Coach Clark.


This game was back in 1973. This was when the human torpedo first made his appearance. How many of you remember Mike Rae passing for about 230 yards? Well, than you also remember how Sam rushed about 4 touchdowns. No one before or since then has done it. It was because of this that 23 players made it into the NFL. This was never seen before. Still has not been duplicated.


Back in 1981, coach Bo Schembechler had already been part of the Rose Bowl prior to this year. It was this year that his coaching skills really dominated the environment. Butch Woolfolk was named MVP. The coach finally brought his team a major win. This game lands a spot just for being great all the way around.


In 1986 this game become very important. Ronnie Harmon was accused of using fumbles to “throw the game”. This later was all refuted and he was never charged.


This game happened in 1988. This was the game that ended the 7-year drought that the Big Ten were in. It was also victorious for MSU fans. These two reasons alone land this game in the top ten.


This 1997 game became a miracle for one reason alone. The Buckeyes finally got a win. After this game many of the players went on to play pro.


This 2006 game brought on many memorable moments. The biggest of which, it’s the first time these two teams had ever met and played one another. Both teams have a long-standing history of their own. However, this game was the first face-to-face meeting for these two giants. For this reason alone it ranks on the list.


This game ranks in this list for one reason alone. Vince Young was one of 4 players who got selected for the NFL 2006 draft. He put up one of the best performances in the history of the bowl.  And, he beat Heisman winner Reggie Bush in the game.  This is a rarity in the NFL or even the NCAA. There was a lot of action at the game, but the draft cemented it for player

How Have Heisman Trophy Winners Fared In The Rose Bowl?

Best Heisman Performances in Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl is known as “the grand daddy of them all” and has been one of the most widely-watched college football games of all time. The Rose Bowl has been host to many major Big 10 vs Pac-12 (formerly Pac-10) contests, but it’s also been host to the national championship, the ultimate prize coveted by all. As you’d imagine, many Heisman winners have come to this bowl game, and some have had outstanding performances, while others had forgettable games, or came out on the losing end of the contest despite outstanding efforts. But among the Heisman Trophy winners, a number of them are names you probably know well.  Will the Heisman winner play in this year’s game?  Possibly if Christian McCaffrey and Stanford have another big year.

OJ Simpson

This is where a big bowl rivalry back in the 60s and 70s between USC and Ohio State started. OJ Simpson had a glorious 1968 season and brought home the Heisman to his alma mater. The Trojans would host Woody Hayes’s Buckeyes in their home town and had high hopes for this game. Much to Simpson’s credit, he had an outstanding game, gaining 171 yards on the ground and rushing for a big touchdown. But it wasn’t enough as the Trojans fell 27-16 in this game.

Archie Griffin

The Trojans decided to exact a bit of retribution on Ohio State for spoiling OJ’s big game on New Years day 6 years ago. This time when Woody Hayes came to town with his own Heisman-winning runningback Archie Griffin, the Trojan’s defense completely stifled him. In this 1974 Rose Bowl, the Trojans defeated the Buckeyes 18-17, a close game but Griffin was held to only 75 yards and no score, the only game all year he didn’t break 100 yards. The next year, Griffin once again led his team to the Rose Bowl, facing UCLA this time. But again, he was held under 100 yards and his team lost 23-10.

Desmond Howard

This star Michigan wide receiver came into the 1991 Rose Bowl looking to do amazing things after breaking a plethora of school records all season and getting the coveted Heisman. It was not meant to be however, as the U of M was beaten soundly by the Washington Huskies 34-14, and Howard only had 1 catch and no touchdowns all game. But don’t feel bad for Howard, he would go on to play for the Packers in the NFL and win the MVP award of Superbowl XXXI.

Charles Woodson

While one Michigan player had a disappointing Rose Bowl follow-up to the Heisman Trophy award, another had one of the best performances. Charles Woodson has been one of the few defensive players to win the Heisman Trophy over the years, and in 1997 he brought home all the marbles with a Rose Bowl national championship win for Michigan over Washington State 21-16. He had an interception, and played some offensive series in this game.  He won one of the best Heisman races ever, beating Peyton Manning.

Ron Dayne

A Legend in Wisconsin football, Ron Dayne broke records in Wisconsin right and left and twice led his team to Rose Bowl victories in some great games. Although it was only one in 1999 in which he was awarded the Heisman Trophy. Dayne scored a touchdown and ran for over 200 yards in this game. It was about as perfect an ending as you could script for a season in which Dayne actually broke the all-time NCAA rushing yards record for a career, one that had just been set only a year earlier by Texas running back Ricky Williams.