Lesson: Don’t mess with Michigan, its football team, or in particular, Fielding Yost or Benny Friedman. You’ll pay.
Just the great Red Grange about what happened in 1925…or better yet listen to Saturday’s BEAT STATE edition of This Week in Michigan Football History:
You can listen to all 6 years of This Week In Michigan Football History here. And don’t forget to catch the whole KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff on WTKA 1050AM starting 4 hours before each game, and of course live in the Bud Light Victors Lounge tomorrow starting at 11:30am.
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1925 was a special year in Wolverine football lore as it featured the return, after taking a season off, of Fielding Yost as head coach. His timing couldn’t be better and he led his beloved Meeechigan with one of the finest, arguably THE best, squads in his brilliant tenure in Ann Arbor.
The 1925 season opened with 39-0 and 63-0 drubbings of Michigan State and Indiana leading to this day in Michigan Football History – a trip to Madison Wisconsin to face the Badgers 90 years ago today. The Badgers were headed by George Little, a former Yost assistant, who coincidently served as the Wolverine head coach in 1924.
Wolverine quarterback Benny Friedman wasn’t a fan of coach Little – and he held a bit of a grudge because he felt he was unfairly sidelined when Little was in charge. But Yost put Friedman in as signal caller and the junior didn’t take long to stun the 44 thousand at Camp Randall – and perhaps exact some revenge on this old coach.
On the first play of the game he tossed a 62 yard touchdown pass. Shortly thereafter he took a Badger kickoff 85 yards to the house. Late in the game he connected with sophomore Bennie Oosterbaan to cap off the 21-0 drubbing.
The following week, October 24, 1925, the eyes of the nation turned Michigan’s trip to Champaign, Illinois to watch Yost square off against the Illini and the great Red Grange. As a junior in 1924, Grange crushed the George Little-coached Wolverines for the dedication of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium. In an iconic performance in college football history Grange tallied 6 touchdowns in that game, including four in the first 12 minutes on runs of 95, 67, 56 and 44 yards.
People talk about that game today, but they really don’t talk about what happened when Yost took back the reins and returned to Champaign in 1925.
For 12 months, Yost planned and schemed on how to stop Illinois’ Grange. He went with a seven-man front and a diamond-shaped secondary. Illini coach Bob Zuppke tried to counter the wily Yost by shifting Grange from halfback to quarterback. Twenty-five times the Galloping Ghost Iceman carried the ball, and 25 times he was sent to the turf by bone-crushing hits.
The only score of the game came just before the first half ended when Friedman converted a 25-yard field goal. Michigan prevailed 3 to nothing and the Ghost legend was taken down a peg. Michigan finished the year 7 and 1, claimed the Western Conference and outscored opponents 227-3.