150-Year Anniversary: The Birth of College Football

150-Year Anniversary: The Birth of College Football

College Football Forever

150-Year Anniversary: The Birth of College Football


It’s not hard to make the argument that college football is the greatest sport in the world. There are the rivalries, the pageantry, the traditions and waking up on New Year’s Day thinking about bowl games.

This sport got it’s start on this day 150 years ago as Princeton — then known as New Jersey — took on Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey for the first-ever college football game.

The contest on Nov. 6, 1869 would be unrecognizable by today’s standards. Only about 100 fans were in attendance as Rutgers won the game, six goals to four.

There were no formations at the time or forward passes. The purpose of the game was simply to kick the ball into the other team’s goal.

Carrying the football and forward passes were both illegal at the time. It wouldn’t be until 1875 that the game started to look more like its modern form with a line of scrimmage, ball-carriers and tackling.

The teams would meet again a week later as Princeton won the rematch, 8-0. In 1870, Columbia took part in football. After no games were played in 1871, five teams played in 1872 and 13 in 1873.

Today, there are 130 teams that play FBS football and 126 that make up FCS. That doesn’t include Division II, III and NAIA competition.

Over the years, college football has become an industry worth billions with TV money, multi-millionaire head coaches, live streaming and more access to games than ever before. It all started on this day a century and a half ago.


College Football Forever is a college football history site and part of The Sports Daily network. Be sure to like College Football Forever on Facebook and follow College Football Forever on Twitter @ForeverCfb.

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