Another great YouTube post from WolverineHistorian. This time it’s the 1948 Rose Bowl in Pasadena against USC. The 49-0 win capped off a national championship season where the Wolverines went 10-0 and outscored their opponents 394-53. You may have seen some clips of this version of Fritz Crisler’s “Mad Magicians” featuring Bob Chappuis and Bump Elliott on Michigan Football Memories show from PBS. The combination of line shifts and ball movement is jaw-dropping:



There’s an asterisk by the number that number one ranking that season. It seems to come up every year before the Notre Dame game in one form or another. As described by the Bentley Library:

Michigan and Notre Dame had traded the top spot in the polls through much of the season. Notre Dame was No. 1 and Michigan No. 2 in the final regular season poll. In an unprecedented post-bowl games poll, the Associated Press named Michigan No. 1 on the strength of the Wolverines’ decisive win over Southern California in the Rose Bowl. Notre Dame had been less dominant in its season ending win over the Trojans.

As you might imagine, there are a few pages in John Kryk’s Natural Enemies dedicated to this controversy, grab a copy of you enjoy football history. Here’s a few tidbits from the book:

- There was never more hot debate, or more coast-to-coast clamoring for a one-game national-title playoff, than there was in 1947
- The quality and depth of the talent amassed at Notre Dame and Michigan was staggering.
- Officially, Notre Dame gets the honor [of national champion] as it finished first in the official determinant of the day-the final regular-season Associated Press writers poll. The Irish won the final AP poll in a landslide, grabbing 107 first-place votes to Michigan’s 25.
- Michigan won the first-ever post-bowl AP poll by a 2-1 margin.
- A headline in the Atlanta Journal screamed “Irish-Wolverine Super Bowl Would Settle Individual Brawls.”
- Someone wrote Crisler that a game held at Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium could produce a $1-million gate.
- A group of wealthy citizens in Miami was prepared to underwrite a charity game at the Orange Bowl for $500,000.

In the end this “plus one” game never happened. Crisler didn’t want to do it anyway stating that “It isn’t the function of an educational institution to win football games..nor would victory [over Notre Dame] have any bearing on the degree the players gets.” Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy didn’t take the same stance. When told about the second AP poll he said, “I just wish we had the opportunity to beat Michigan. We’d be happy to play them any time, on any Saturday, during the fall.”

Memorabilia fans, here’s a few items from the MVictors memorabilia vault from this period:

Lighter from 1948 Rose Bowl

Ticket from 1948 Rose Bowl

Crisler speaks to Michigan before 1948 Rose Bowl

4 Comments

  1. Great Stuff! You’re a wealth of knowledge.

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  7. Amazing! Great finds.

  8. when i moved into my home in the attic i found a copy of the pasadena star-news dated January 1st 1948 the front page reads Michigan swamps u.s.c.49-0
    Tournament of roses souvenir***10 full pages official pictures. I was woundering if you would know its worth

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