For tonight’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History we went way back, 118 years to 1898. It was on this day 118 years ago that your beloved Wolverines faced Illinois in a game played at the Detroit Athletic Club. Heavy rains rendered the playing field a complete mess, but that didn’t stop Michigan from getting the job in the 12-6 victory. Here’s more:
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script after the jump:
Tonight we are head back, and I mean waaayy back to November 12, 1898! It was on this day 118 years ago that your beloved Wolverines faced Illinois in a game played at the Detroit Athletic Club. Heavy rains rendered the playing field a complete mess, but that didn’t stop Michigan from getting the job in the 12-6 victory.
The following week Michigan shut out Beloit College 22-0 to set-up one of the most notable season ending showdowns in Meeechigan football history. While today our undisputed rival is clearly The Buckeyes, back in 1898, the crew that really got the maize and blue blood boiling was Amos Alonzo Stagg and his Chicago Maroons.
On Thanksgiving Day 1898 your Wolverines traveled to Chicago to face Stagg to settle who was truly the Champion of the West – and perhaps more.
The defining moment of the contest was when Michigan’s Charles Widman broke free on a 65-yard dash that helped seal the 12-11 victory and gave Michigan the conference championship – in just the third season in Big Ten history. The Wolverine fans on hand rejoiced – and among the 600 fans in attendance was a U-M music student named Louis Elbel.
So inspired by the victory, Elbel later put pen to paper and composed a song – or more specifically – a fight song.
Elbel later reflected on that moment, saying “My spirits were so uplifted that I was clear off the earth, and that is when “The Victors” was inspired,” – and he dedicated it to the Michigan team of 1898.
Michigan was undoubtedly the Champions of the West, but looking back does Michigan have a right to claim the title of National Champions? It’s seems silly discussing this 118 years later but there is recent precedence for such action. In 2004 Southern Cal looked back at its history and claimed the 1939 national championship. And in 2012 our Little Brown Jug rival Minnesota announced a claim to the 1904 national championship.
While Harvard and Princeton each take credit for the 1898 crown based on different measurements – Does Michigan, who went undefeated and outscored opponents 205 to 26, have an argument to join them? Discuss amongst yourselves but first…#goblue, Beat Iowa and check out MVictors.com and WTKA.com.