Bill’s Blog: The famous Michigan-Ohio State ‘Snow Bowl’ of 1950

Bill's Blog

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — We’ve had some crazy college football games, but one of the strangest was the famous “Snow Bowl” between Michigan and Ohio State on Nov. 25, 1950.

It was snowing so hard at times that the announcers couldn’t see the field.

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The “Snow Bowl” Michigan-Ohio State football game of 1950.

The temperature was +10F and there was a howling NE wind. Ohio State’s kicker, Vic Janowicz said after the game that “It was like a nightmare.”

“My hands were numb and blue. I had no feeling in them and I don’t know how I hung onto the ball. It was terrible. You knew what you wanted to do, but you couldn’t do it,” he continued.

Another player remarked that his assignment was to go past the line of scrimmage to block a linebacker. When he moved past the line, it was snowing so hard he couldn’t find the guy he was supposed to block.

Michigan won the game 9-3 despite not getting a first down, not completing a pass and punting the ball 24 times (for 723 yards). Ohio State had just 18 yards passing and a net 16 yards rushing, punting the ball 21 times.

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The “Snow Bowl” Michigan-Ohio State football game of 1950.

Ohio State blocked a Michigan punt and recovered at the Michigan 8-yard line. They ran three plays and lost yardage back to the 21. Then Vic Janowicz kicked a 37-yard field goal. Some still regard this as the best field goal ever kicked given the conditions.

Michigan scored its points on blocked punts, falling on one in the end zone for its touchdown and getting a safety on another blocked punt.

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Over 79,000 tickets were sold for the game, a full house. Of those, roughly 50,000 came to the game. A few of them actually tried to light fires in the stands. Volunteers and the Boy Scouts tried to clear snow from the field during time outs.

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Total snowfall during the blizzard of 1950.

The storm brought (by far) the coldest cold and the heaviest snow of any November storm. Colburn Creek West Virginia had 62 inches of total snowfall. Several other locations had over 50 inches. The wind blew the snow into gigantic drifts. Grand Rapids, Michigan dipped to 10 below zero. Low temperatures of +5 in Birmingham, Alabama, and +3 in Atlanta were recorded.

After the storm, temperatures warmed to above average and the snow melted, resulting in some flooding.

This year, the Michigan-Ohio State football game is in Ann Arbor. It’s at noon on FOX. It will be mostly cloudy with a chance of a snow shower or a little mixed rain and snow (nothing major). Temperatures will be mostly in the mid-30s during the game.

Ohio State is ranked No. 2 in the country and Michigan is No. 5. The winner goes to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Penn State visits Michigan State in East Lansing Saturday at 3:30 p.m. That game is on WOTV4. Notre Dame is at Stanford at 8 p.m. on FOX. Wisconsin (my alma mater) travels to Minnesota. Wisconsin has won seven in a row, though the 7-point win over Nebraska last week wasn’t very convincing. If Wisconsin wins, it will meet the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 4 in Indianapolis.

Ohio State has won the Big Ten Championship game five times during the eight years it has been played.

Wisconsin is 0-4 in Big Ten championship games.

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