Some of the most heartwarming images of sports over the years are the black and white tapes of athletes running around on snow-capped fields. When things get really cold, sport becomes a different experience. The coldest game conditions in history have created some spectacular experiences.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at some of the coldest game conditions in the history of college sports, from college football. Grab your official team sweatshirt, and bundle up for the cold game.
Coldest Bowls in College Football History
College football has a long history of some cold, cold bowl games. The two coldest bowl games in history are tied for a temperature of 12 degrees. If you’re heading to a cold college game, check out our guide for how to keep warm at cold games.
1958 Bluegrass Bowl
The 1958 Bluegrass Bowl which took place in Louisville saw Oklahoma State beat a laughably out of place Florida team. It is a bowl game that you may not have heard of, because it was only played one time. The organizers did not get the attendance and ticket sales that they were looking for--in part because of the cold weather. The 12-degree weather dissuaded people from showing up to the game or paying for it.
The weather was so cold and the field was so icy and slippery that players actually traded their football cleats for tennis shoes. The tennis shoes allowed the players to get more traction on the icy surface than the cleats did. The press for the game found the weather so unbearable that they all crowded into the same enclosed, heated room.
1983 Liberty Bowl
You can put on the best college football tailgating apparel you own, when the temperature is 12 degrees it’s going to be rough out there.
In the 1983 Liberty Bowl, at 12 degrees, a talented Notre Dame team beat Boston College by a single point. Notably, this was a game that featured a Boston College team led by the legendary Doug Flutie. While Boston College took the early lead, the Irish quickly responded with a long drive of their own, and then the teams were off. Notre Dame quickly got the score to 19-6.
But Boston battled back, getting the score to 19-18 just after halftime. But the second half didn’t have any more points for Boston, and Notre Dame knocked them off, holding on by that single point.
1962 Gotham Bowl
The 1962 Gotham Bowl in New York City saw a Nebraska team beat a Miami team in a thriller. Teams punched points back and forth in 14-degree weather until Nebraska came out on top, 36-34. Nebraska wasn’t even supposed to be in the game, but a couple of other teams declined to make way for the Huskers.
The game was played in Yankee Stadium in NYC, and the temperatures were 14 degrees and icy. The game featured a lot of running. And while Miami was able to pass the ball decently well, Nebrasks stuck with the run game. The Nebraska team was only able to hang in the shootout after a brisk 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown kept them close in the first half. A Bob Brown interception in the final minutes sealed the win for Nebraska as they held off a driving Miami team.
Beyond that, the 1999 and 2004 Humanitarian Bowls in Boise, Idaho, also featured remarkably cold weather. Those games were played in 20 and 22 degrees. Sometimes, the game is so cold that even the best appetizers and entrees to bring to cold games won’t quite do. Fans are beyond bundled in the pictures and memories of the 1999 and 2004 games.
The Coldest College Football Game: The Snow Bowl
The 1950 Michigan and Ohio State game is important for a couple of reasons. It featured what were then two really good football teams, and are now two of the winningest and rowdiest football programs in the history of college football.
Oh, and it was the coldest game in the history of college football.
Columbus, Ohio is no stranger to cold weather and a ton of snow. But the single-day November record for snowfall was set on November 25th, 1950, the morning before Michigan rolled into town to take on Ohio State. A full seven and a half inches came out of nowhere to dust all of Columbus, and the game started with a total whiteout. The field was frozen underneath a tarp and the conditions were so bad that players felt that they couldn’t spring or change direction. The teams decided that the best strategy was to kick the ball to the opponent and hope for a mistake. It might be the only game in history in which the first play from scrimmage was a punt by Michigan. Both teams tried to punt the ball back and forth and then would take shots at the endzone with field goals.
The temperature that day, the “Snow Bowl,” was around 13 degrees. And the 30-35 mile per hour wind took the game down to a wind chill of around -4 degrees. The game kept snowing and dumping snow onto the players. Players reported seeing fans walking into the stadium, constantly slipping and falling. Michigan ended up winning the game with only 27 yards of offense. The Michigan team, shockingly, had not a single first down and had no pass completions. The losing Ohio State team had more yards and 3 more completions than the Michigan team.
Who Won The Ice Bowl?
The right college team accessories are absolutely critical to staying warm at a cold game while still supporting the team. But there are times when the weather gets so ugly that it really doesn’t matter what you put on as a fan.
Still, the Ohio State and Michigan game, with the wind chill of -4 degrees, doesn’t even come close to the temperatures that the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys faced each other in. The 1967 NFL Championship was unlike anything that has ever been played before and anything that was played again. Not only did it feature the coldest game in NFL history, with a -15 degree temperature and a wind chill recorded at -48 degrees, but the Lambeau Field heating system malfunctioned which left the field even more rock hard.
The Packers won the game 21 to 17, with Bart Starr giving them the final score on a QB sneak. It was Vince Lombardi against Tom Landry, but it was everyone against the cold.
Coldest NFL Playoff Game
The 1982 AFC Championship Game pitted the Bengals Vs. Chargers, and it is the coldest NFL playoff game in history as well as the second coldest NFL game in the history of the league. Temperatures were recorded at -9 degrees, and the Bengals QB got frostbite on one of his ears. The wind chill of the game was actually at -58 degrees, even colder than the famed ice bowl’s wind chill. Unsurprisingly, the Cincinnati home team was able to beat the San Diego Chargers team that had never seen anything like those conditions before. Cincy put up 27 points, and the Chargers somehow managed a single touchdown.