The First College Football Game Looked Nothing Like Today’s Game Day Spectacles.

By | October 5, 2018

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Not the 1869 Rutgers’ football team, this is a group portrait of the Rutgers College 1891 football team, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1891. (Photo by FJ Higgins/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

College football game day in America is an event like no other, filled with screaming fans, tailgate parties, marching bands, cheerleaders, and, of course, a group of athletically talented college students who balance their academic studies with football practices. But the very first college football game ever played, back on November 6, 1869, looked vastly different than today’s game. Not only was the pomp and circumstance surrounding the game nonexistent, but the rules of the game itself were nothing like today’s rules. Of course, there was also no concussion protocol, Goodyear blimp, or even helmets. Let us take a look at that football game that started an American tradition. 

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Rutgers Versus New Jersey

The first collegiate football game pit Rutgers against a rival university, New Jersey, which later became known as Princeton. The game day action took place in a field in New Brunswick, New Jersey, at a location that is now the site of the College Avenue Gymnasium. As the host of the game, Rutgers was allowed to pick the rules. They opted to follow the Football Association’s rules of that time, which were quite different than today’s rules.