January 1: This Date in American Football History

Doak Walker

Everyday RoadTripSports.com celebrates the past, present and future of American football including birthdays, deaths, and important games and events that have occurred in the past through our daily feature This Date in American Football History. Get to know the legends of American football – the sport’s greatest heroes including players and coaches, and relive some of the greatest plays and moments in the game’s history.

Then be sure to check out our Legends Library for historical profiles on the game’s greats or research your favorite schools or players in our databases for College Football Hall of Fame inductees, All-Americans and major award winners. Or take a moment to explore the various branches of the internet’s most complete coaching tree!

You can also follow your favorite teams here as well by selecting the appropriate division on our College Football Teams page or by locating your favorite professional team page. Team pages for all divisions of college football are available including NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA, NJCAA, CCCAA and CIS (Canada). Also, independent team and club team pages are available including teams holding associate membership in the USCAA and NCCAA.


1890 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1961 member Vince Pazzetti was born. Pazzetti played quarterback for Wesleyan (1908-1909) and Lehigh (1911-1912).

1901 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1977 member Century “Wally” Milstead was born. Milstead played tackle for Wabash (1920-1921) and Yale (1923) before enjoying a brief professional career with the NFL’s New York Giants (1925, 1927-1928) and the first American Football League’s Philadelphia Quakers (1926).

1901 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1978 member Frank Sundstrom was born. Sundstrom played tackle for Cornell (1921-1923).

1927 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1959 member Doak Walker was born. Walker played running back for SMU (1945, 1947-1949) winning the 1947 Maxwell Award and the 1948 Heisman Trophy. He then played for the NFL’s Detroit Lions from 1950-1955 earning election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. He is the namesake of the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation’s best running back since 1990.

1932 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1976 member Jackie Parker was born. Parker played quarterback for Jones County (MS) Junior College (1950-1951) and Mississippi State (1952-1953). He then embarked on a 15-year career in the Canadian Football League playing for the Edmonton Eskimos (1954-1962), Toronto Argonauts (1963-1965) and the BC Lions (1966-1968).

1936 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2005 member Don Nehlen was born. Nehlen played quarterback for Bowling Green (1955-1957), but his election to the hall was a result of his long career as a head coach at Bowling Green (1968-1976) and West Virginia (1980-2000) during which he compiled a career record of 202-128-8.

1949 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009 member William Lewis died. Lewis played center for Amherst (1891) and Harvard (1892-1893) and was the first African-American to be named an All-American in college football earning consensus honors in 1892-1893.

1967 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 member Derrick Thomas was born. Thomas played linebacker for Alabama (1985-1988) and won the 1988 Butkus Award as college football’s top linebacker. Thomas then played linebacker for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs (1989-1999) earning election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

1967 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1957 member Pete Mauthe died. Mauthe played fullback for Penn State (1909-1912).

1968 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1954 member Andy Oberlander died. Oberlander played for Dartmouth (1923-1925), first as a tackle and then as a halfback during his final two years.

1991 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1966 member Edgar Miller died. Miller played tackle for Notre Dame (1922-1924).

1999 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1971 member Rags Matthews died. Matthews played end for TCU (1925-1927).

Games, Plays and Events

1902 – Sponsored by the Tournament of Roses Association, the First Tournament East-West Football Game was staged featuring the Michigan Wolverines against the Stanford Cardinal. Michigan was dominant in a 49-0 win leading tournament officials to feature events other than football until the game returned in 1916.

1929 – In the Rose Bowl vs. the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the California Golden Bears’ Roy Riegels picked up a fumble by Tech’s Jack “Stumpy” Thomason and returned it 69 yards in the wrong direction, a play known in college football lore as “Wrong Way Roy.”

1954 – In the Cotton Bowl, the Alabama Crimson Tide’s Tommy Lewis came off the bench to tackle the Rice Owls’ Dicky Moegle on a play that began on Rice’s 5-yard line. The referee awarded Rice a 95-yard touchdown on the play in a game won by the Owls 28-6.

1963 – The 1963 Rose Bowl was the first bowl game to feature No. 1 vs. No. 2 as the top-ranked USC Trojans took on the second-ranked Wisconsin Badgers. USC won what is considered to be one of the best Rose Bowls after charging out to a 42-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and then outlasting a furious Wisconsin rally for a 42-37 victory.

1964 – Just one year to the day after the first bowl game to feature No. 1 vs. No. 2, the top two teams came together again to play in the 1964 Cotton Bowl. This time it was the Texas Longhorns claiming their first-ever national championship in football in a 28-6 rout of the Navy Midshipmen led by that season’s Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Roger Staubach. The game was played in Dallas just weeks after president John F. Kennedy was assassinated in the city.

1969 – The 1969 Rose Bowl featured the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes against the No. 2 USC Trojans which featured that season’s Heisman Trophy winner, running back O.J. Simpson. Simpson was productive with 171 yards on the ground including an 80-yard touchdown run, but he also had two of USC’s five turnovers as the Buckeyes’ defense proved to be the difference in a 27-16 win.

1972 – In the 1972 Orange Bowl, the No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers took on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide. It proved to be a lopsided affair with the Cornhuskers winning easily in a 38-6 rout.

1979 – The 1979 Cotton Bowl featured one of the greatest comebacks in college football history. The game featured the SWC champion Houston Cougars against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with each team ranked as high as No. 9 – the Cougars holding that spot in the AP poll while the Irish were the No. 9 team in the coaches poll. It was the final game for Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana who had the flu and missed most of the second half struggling while trainers tried to get his body temperature back up in the unusually cold weather conditions in Dallas. That included feeding their star quarterback a bowl of chicken soup. With Notre Dame trailing 34-12, Montana finally returned to the field with just 7:37 remaining in the game, and promptly led the Irish to 23 unanswered points including an 8-yard touchdown to Kris Haines to tie the game at 34-all as time expired. Dallas native Joe Unis then had to kick the extra point twice after the Irish were whistled for illegal procedure on the first try. He made both kicks with the second one giving the Irish a 35-34 come-from-behind win. The game is sometimes referred to as the Chicken Soup Game.

1979 – The 1979 Sugar Bowl featured the No. 1 Penn State Nittany Lions against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide. The Nittany Lions were slight favorites, but it was the Tide that came away with a narrow 14-7 victory.

1983 – The 1983 Sugar Bowl again featured Penn State, but this time the Nittany Lions were ranked No. 2 while the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs came in as the favorites with that season’s Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. This time, however, the Nittany Lions came out on top with a 27-23 win.

1988 – The 1998 Orange Bowl featured a pair of undefeated teams in the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners against the No. 2 Miami (FL) Hurricanes. Miami continued its recent history as Oklahoma’s chief nemesis with a 20-14 win. Ironically, the game featured two head coaches who would go on to become the second and third head coaches in the history of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys – Miami’s Jimmy Johnson who would replace the Cowboys’ legendary Tom Landry in 1989, and Oklahoma’s Barry Switzer who would replace Johnson as the Cowboys’ head coach in 1995.

1993 – The 1993 Sugar Bowl once again featured two unbeaten teams as the No. 1 Miami (FL) Hurricanes took on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide. The ‘Canes were solid favorites to defend their national title from the previous season, but it was the Tide that rolled in a 34-13 win.

1994 – The 1994 Orange Bowl paired the nation’s top two teams yet again as the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles took on the No. 2 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Florida State was a heavy favorite, but the game was a battle with the ‘Noles finally emerging as 18-16 winners.

2007 – The Boise State Broncos won a wild shootout in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl when head coach Chris Petersen decided to go for two in overtime against the Oklahoma Sooners. The resulting play call – the Statue of Liberty – featured running back Ian Johnson racing to the end zone untouched to give the Broncos a 43-42 win in a game that featured 37 points in the final 1:26 of regulation and overtime. After scoring, Johnson dropped to a knee and proposed to his girlfriend during the postgame interview.

2010 – Legendary Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden ends his career with a 33-21 win in the Gator Bowl against the West Virginia Mountaineers – the school where he first served as a major college head coach from 1970-1975.


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