ON A WINDY and hot day on May 30, Michigan's first varsity football team plays its inaugural game, against Racine at the White Stocking grounds in Chicago, in what the campus paper calls "the finest game of Rugby foot-ball ever played this side of the Alleghanies [sic]." Irving Pond (middle row, far left) scores the team's first "touch-down," and the "University" team wins 1-0.
WITH SIX seconds left to play and the ball at the Indiana 45, the 6-1 Wolverines are in jeopardy of being tied by the unranked Hoosiers, who hadn't finished better than fourth in the Big Ten in 12 years. In the huddle, usually shy freshman receiver Anthony Carter (above) tells quarterback John Wangler he'll be open. Wangler finds his teammate at the 25, Carter wins the race to the end zone and Michigan wins 27-21.
WITH FOUR seconds left in the season opener against No. 17 Virginia in the Pigskin Classic, redshirt freshman Scott Dreisbach completes a 17-point, fourth-quarter comeback—at the time the greatest deficit overcome by a Michigan quarterback—when he hits wideout Mercury Hayes (left) in the back right corner of the end zone, giving the No. 14 Wolverines an 18-17 victory.
ILLINOIS halfback Red Grange had scored five touchdowns (four in the first 12 minutes) in a 39-14 win over Michigan in '24, but the Wolverines are ready for the Galloping Ghost in '25. On a muddy Memorial Stadium field in Champaign, Ill., Michigan holds Grange (right, with ball) to 56 yards on 25 carries and beats the Illini 3-0 on a field goal by Benny Friedman.
BENNY TO BENNIE BEGINS
AGAINST MICHIGAN STATE in '25, sophomore Bennie Oosterbaan (inset), in his first varsity game, receives the nod from coach Fielding Yost to go in at end. In the third quarter Friedman (below) drops back to pass from the 22 and connects with Oosterbaan, who falls into the end zone for a touchdown, the first of eight "Benny to Bennie" scores that season. The two become one of the most celebrated pairs in football, earning All-America honors in '25 and '26 (Oosterbaan becomes Michigan's first three-time All-America in '27) and leading the Wolverines to back-to-back Big Ten championships.
CRISLER INVENTS TWO-PLATOON SYSTEM
BECAUSE OF military training assignments during World War II, the Michigan football team becomes a revolving door of talent. The most celebrated of the Wolverines' "lend-lease" players is Elroy (Crazylegs) Hirsch (below), a Wisconsin Badgers halfback assigned to Ann Arbor under the Navy's V-12 officer training program who becomes the only modern Michigan athlete to letter in four sports in a single year. At the same time, coach Fritz Crisler devises the now standard two-platoon system, which allows him to rest players and get the most out of a roster thinned by the war.
MICHIGAN ROLLS IN THE FIRST ROSE BOWL
MICHIGAN OBLIGES the Tournament of Roses committee, which wants to showcase a football game after its annual New Year's Day parade, and agrees to make an eight-day trip to Pasadena to play the champions of the Pacific Coast conference. Coach Yost (first row, far right) and the team ride in the parade before the inaugural Rose Bowl (below). With eight minutes to go, an injury-plagued Stanford squad trails 49-0 and has no reserve players left. Michigan captain Hugh White consents to end the game, the first of 20 Rose Bowl appearances for Michigan.
MAD MAGICIANS WIN A TITLE
CRISLER'S LAST team at Michigan, an undersized squad featuring Bump Elliott, Howard Yerges, Jack Weisenburger and Bob Chappuis (above, from left), goes 10-0 thanks largely to deception in the backfield. The AP votes the Rose Bowl champion "Mad Magicians" No. 1 in the first postbowl poll, and Crisler earns Coach of the Year honors.
THE JUG WARS BEGIN
STUDENT manager Tom Roberts buys a jug from which the Wolverines drink during a 6-6 tie at Minnesota. They leave the jug, which is found by the Gophers who, six years later, demand the Wolverines "come and win it," beginning the Little Brown Jug tradition.
THE WINGED HELMET TAKES FLIGHT
CRISLER (below, right) arrives at Michigan from Princeton, bringing with him the design for the winged helmet, a model of which Spalding had advertised in '37. The wing over the forehead of these helmets provides extra padding, and Crisler's version, with its bright, maize-colored wing on a blue background, is supposed to help quarterbacks see receivers downfield.