CFB Flashback: 70-Year Anniversary — Michigan Tops Ohio State in Famed “Snow Bowl” to Win Big Nine

by Mike Ferguson

Associated Press Photo

There have been some memorable contests between Ohio State and Michigan over the years.

Of those contests however, very few have their own nickname. On this day 70 years ago, the Wolverines topped the Buckeyes 9-3 in a pivotal contest dubbed the “Snow Bowl”.

Setting the Stage

The Big Nine title was on the line as Michigan made its way to Columbus on Nov. 25, 1950. Ohio State had been ranked No. 1, but was coming off a loss to Illinois. At 6-2 overall and 5-1 in conference, Ohio State was ranked eighth entering the contest.

Michigan was 4-3-1 and unranked, but had won two straight contests. Ohio State had went to Pasadena the previous year, but the Big Ten did not allow teams to play in consecutive Rose Bowls. To make the Rose Bowl, Michigan had to win the contest and have Illinois lose to Northwestern.

The contest came to be known as the “Snow Bowl” with temperatures in the teens and winds reaching 30 miles per hour. Columbus was in the midst of its worst blizzard in nearly four decades.

The Game

Michigan finished the game with just 24 yards.

It did not complete a pass.

It punted 24 times.

In four feet of snow, the start of the game was delayed by more than two hours. Prior to the contest, Ohio State head coach Wes Fesler and athletic director Dick Larkins spoke with Michigan head coach Bennie Oosterbaan and athletic director Fritz Crisler about whether to play the contest.

If Michigan decided not to play, the contest would have been ruled a forfeit. So, on it went.

Ohio State scored first as Vic Janowicz somehow knocked through a 38-yard field goal in the frigid conditions. For a while, it appeared that might be enough.

The Buckeyes punted 21 times, but Michigan blocked four of them. The first resulted in a safety as Michigan’s Al Wahl blocked it out the back of the end zone. In the second quarter, another blocked punt would lead to the game’s only touchdown.

With less than a minute to play until halftime, Tony Momsen broke through for Michigan and blocked Janowicz’s punt. Momsen fell on it in the end zone as the Wolverines took a 9-3 lead into the locker room.

In a contest the featured 45 punts and 10 fumbles, neither team threatened again.

In Hindsight

With the victory, Michigan would extend its unbeaten streak over Ohio State to five games. The teams had tied 7-7 the previous year.

Michigan would get the help it needed as Northwestern upset Illinois, 14-7. The Wolverines earned a spot in the Rose Bowl and made good on it with a 14-6 upset win over No. 5 California.

Michigan finished No. 9 in the AP Poll — its 11th straight top-10 finish.

Ohio State settled for a No. 14 final ranking in the AP Poll. Janowicz would go on to win the Heisman Trophy, but his memorable campaign ended with a bitter defeat in the bitter cold.

It happened on this day seven decades ago.


Toledo Blade
Ohio State University

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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