The Big Ten Conference football championship in the 1950 college football season was on the line. The Wolverines were playing also for a berth in the 1951 Rose Bowl game. Ohio State had gone the previous year; the Big Ten Conference had a no-repeat rule regarding the Rose Bowl representative at that time. If Michigan had lost this game, the likely Rose Bowl representative would have been second place Wisconsin, which finished with a 5–2 record. If the game had not been played, which was a proposal put forth at game time, Ohio State would have been the Big Ten champion.
Harry Allis kicks the extra point after the game's only touchdown
The game was played at Ohio Stadium, in Columbus, Ohio under severe winter conditions, including snow and wind, that altered the normal playing of the game dramatically. Michigan won the game 9–3, despite never getting a first down and failing on all nine pass attempts. The teams punted 45 times, sometimes on first down, which is highly unusual in football. The strategy was based on the weather in that both teams felt it better to have the ball in the hands of their opponents near the end zone and hope for a fumble of the slippery ball. The game became famous because of the weather and the difficulty of playing football when the players can't see the lines on the field; film of the game is often shown during television coverage of their annual meeting or when histories of either team are compiled. During the game, two brothers, Robert Momsen from Ohio State and Tony Momsen from Michigan, faced off in college football for the first time.
The Buckeyes' first and only score was Vic Janowicz kicking a field goal, after Robert Momsen recovered a blocked Wolverine kick. Michigan scored on a blocked kick that rolled out of the end zone for a safety. With 47 seconds remaining in the first half, Tony Momsen of Michigan blocked a Buckeye punt and fell on it in the end zone for a touchdown and the final score of 9–3.
The nickname has also been more recently used to refer to various other games, including the 2000 Independence Bowl, a 43–41 overtime win by Mississippi State over Texas A&M. The 1992 meeting of Penn State and Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium is also sometimes referred to as the "Snow Bowl." Heavy snow slowed both teams, with Notre Dame coming from behind to win, 17–16. The famous footage was filmed by two Ohio State University Employees, one being Professor Emeritus, Robert Wagner, who was the Chairman of the Department of Photography and Cinema.