The Smallest Crowd in Michigan Stadium history | U-M 16, Wisconsin 0 (11/28/1931)
In 1931 the Western Conference agreed to schedule a full slate of games to benefit a fund for the many Depression-era unemployed worker at the end of the season. The league also agreed the games would count in the tight conference standings. Michigan d. Wisconsin 16-0 in front of only 9,190 souls. That year, the average attendance was only 26,000 for Michigan’s home games due to the ravages of the Great Depression.
Why the poor turnout for this game?
Well, it seems that early in the process of determining the match-ups for the charity games, it was decided that Michigan would square off in the Big House against Northwestern. The teams had shared the conference crown in 1930 and were near the top of the standings again. Thinking they could raise more money by putting Northwestern in Chicago’s Solider Field, a couple weeks before the date they changed course and pitted the Wildcats against Purdue. Michigan was left with Wisconsin.
Everyone in Ann Arbor – from Fielding Yost to the editors of the Michigan Daily — went berserk. After the Badgers were assigned, director Yost told reporters, “This whole thing has been such mess that I won’t even venture a conservative guess on how many will turn out. It won’t be many.” The Daily suggested a boycott. Students were quoted saying they “wouldn’t give a nickel” or even “cross the street” to see a weak Wisconsin squad.