From the official game release:
This is the first Michigan football game to end before all 60 minutes of regulation have been played.
Well kind of. And I’ll clarify in a minute.
It’s certainly not the first Michigan football game to end before the planned allotted time. Most notably two of the most famous games in college football history ended early:
- The 1902 Rose Bowl (the first bowl game ever played) ended with plenty of time on the clock because Yost, Heston and crew were putting a colossal smack down on Stanford. From the Bentley:
With eight minutes remaining in the game, Stanford captain Ralph Fisher approached the Wolverine bench and offered to concede; Michigan consented.
- While this game yielded the Little Brown Jug, the great 1903 Minnesota-Michigan battle between the Western powerhouses also ended early. The common story is that after the Gophers scored a late TD to tie the game, the Minnesota fans stormed the field and the coaches agreed to call the game. (I’ve heard other claims that approaching weather was a factor in the decision, but haven’t seen much evidence to back that up). The Sunday November 1, 1903 Minneapolis Tribune says the game ended with “but a few seconds left to play.” The Detroit Free Press from that Sunday said two minutes remained, headline:
As you can imagine they were a little more liberal with the clock in those days, and there were many times when the teams agreed to end the game, mostly due to the Yost beat down that was going on.
The great John Kryk of Natural Enemies emailed me with some brilliant stuff, explaining this further:
It not only happened often during Point-A-Minute years (and before) as a result of Yost maulings, but in those days the full 70 minutes (two 35-minute halves) were ONLY played when the opponent was of sufficient strength or reputation.
For instance in 1901 Michigan played 10 regular-season games. Only two (Chicago and Iowa) had halves of 35-35. This was by mutual agreement. Games not only could, but usually were, shortened by mutual agreement. Sometimes it was even put into the contract a year before. For instance, the halves were only 20 minutes long in Yost’s first game vs Albion. Against Pop Warner’s Carlisle team they were 27.5 and 27.5 — obviously a compromise between 25 and 30.
This practice continued at least until the end of the decade. By the early 1910s, with the change to four downs, 100-yard fields and 60-minute, four-quarter games, the practice of pre-determined or ad-hoc shortening was eliminated.
I’m sure there have been other anomalies over the years. Only one I know of, because of my research focus, is the 1943 Michigan Notre Dame game. The M stadium scoreboard clock malfunctioned, and players and coaches couldn’t believe how long the 3rd quarter was going. It became evident that it had stopped for a long time. Crisler, Leahy and the officials agreed that they’d probably played (I think it was something like) a 23-minute third quarter, so by mutual agreement they played only a seven-minute fourth quarter.
So in that way, yesterday’s was the shortest 3rd quarter in modern times, and that 43 ND game was the longest.
That is raw historical horsepower, people. [Get yourself some Natural Enemies if you don’t have it.]
So back to the athletic department line, it’s probably correct that this was the first game since they enacted the standard 60 minute clock to end early. That said, you certainly can’t dismiss that this happened several times during the Yost era, including in two very famous games.
Related stuff from Saturday’s game: