On Saturday, the Michigan Wolverines will play the Minnesota Golden Gophers in their 18th game in team history on the date of Oct. 5. The Wolverines tend to play well on the fifth date of the National Squirrel Awareness and Appreciation Month (i.e. October), evidenced by their 14-3 record for the day. By the time Michigan's defense surrendered a point on Oct. 5, Michigan had already reached half of their win total.
In the first seven games, Michigan beat their opponents by a total score of 232-0. During the first game in 1895, the Wolverines tore apart the Michigan Military Academy from Orchard Lake in the season-opener by a score of 34-0. The 1895 Wolverines were a dominant squad, finishing the year 8-1 and outscoring opponents 266-14 on the season. Their lone loss came in a showdown against the Harvard Crimson (who were elite at the time). The game end with a 4-0 final score fit for 1800s football.
Out of the next six games on Oct. 5, four saw the Case Western Reserve University football team travel to Ann Arbor. I'm pretty sure Case wishes they had waited a few decades to field a football team instead of playing Michigan early in the century.The Wolverines hold a 26-0-1 all-time record against Case, and in the four Oct. 5 games (1901, '07, '12, and '18), Michigan dominated the Spartans by a total score of 133-0. The closest call for the Maize n' Blue against Case came in 1907, a game that was scoreless at halftime. But Walter "Octy" Graham drop-kicked a field goal for the Wolverines, which ending up being more than enough in Michigan's close-but-not-close 9-0 win. Each of the other three victories saw the Wolverines outscore Case by at least 33 points.
The final two shutouts came against the Ohio Northern Polar Bears in 1904 and the Michigan State Spartans in 1929. In 1904, Michigan held the Polar Bears to no first downs en route to a 48-0 victory. Against the Spartans in '29, the Wolverines handled their in-state rivals with ease, winning by a score of 17-0.
Following the '29 game, the Wolverines played the Spartans twice more in a row, splitting the two contests. State handed Michigan its first Oct. 5 loss in 1935 by scoring points every quarter and shutting out the Wolverines in the final three frames. The 25-6 victory gave the Spartans back-to-back wins against the Wolverines for the first time in history. But Michigan took revenge five years later as
the Wolverines Tom Harmon beat the Spartans by a score of 21-14. Harmon accounted for all 21 Michigan points, rushing for three touchdowns and kicking each extra-point (Take notes Devin).
Six years later in 1946, the Wolverines welcomed the Iowa Hawkeye to Ann Arbor for an Oct. 5 showdown. Behind team MVP Bob Chappuis, the Wolverines won the close contest 14-7. Chappuis provided most of Michigan's offense, scoring both touchdowns before leaving the game due to injury in the second quarter. As a quarterback-running back hybrid, Chappuis set the conference record for total offense in '46 (which he'd break again a year later). Flashing forward a decade plus one year, Michigan hosted the visiting Georgia Bulldogs for the first meeting between the two teams. Under head coach Wally Butt, the Bulldogs were stumbling through the 1950s after enjoying the most successful era of Georgia football up to that point a decade prior. In the '57 game, Michigan didn't care about the Bulldogs two claimed National Championships in the 1940s and routed the SEC team by a score of 26-0 with the help of seven turnovers: two intercepted Georgia passes and five recovered fumbles.
During the 1960s, the Wolverines played a pair of games against Navy on Oct. 5, a 26-13 loss in 1963 and a 32-9 win in 1968. In '63, the legendary Roger Staubach led the Midshipmen over Michigan by totaling over 300 yards of total offense with two passing touchdowns and one rushing. Michigan was never really in the game as the Middies led 20-0 before the Wolverines scored any points. But the Wolverines responded by downing a significantly weaker Navy squad half of a decade later. The Middies added their only touchdown of the game in the final 30 seconds of regulation, and Michigan rode a strong defensive showing as well as a two-touchdown performance by running back Ron Johnson in their 32-9 victory.
In the next two decades, Michigan battled on the gridiron once per ten-year stretch: a 27-16 win at Stanford in 1974 and a 33-6 win against Wisconsin in 1985. Trailing 9-6 against the Cardinal at halftime, Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin ran for two touchdowns in under one minute to give the Wolverines a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The win helped Michigan earn a 3-0-1 record against Stanford in the 1970s, the last decade the two teams faced off. Similar to '74, the Wolverines rolled over the Badgers in '85 behind three Jim Harbaugh touchdowns and seven forced turnovers. The only downside to the game was that Michigan surrendered its first touchdown on the season. Oh well.
Coming into the 1990s, the Wolverines traveled for Big Ten clashes in their two most recent games on Oct. 5: a 43-24 win against #9 ranked Iowa in 1991 and a 17-16 loss at the hands of Northwestern in 1996. After losing to top-ranked Florida State in the previous week, the Wolverines bounced back in Iowa City to hand the Hawkeyes their first loss of the season. Quarterback Elvis Grbac tossed three touchdowns -- two to Desmond Howard -- and backup running back Jesse Johnson pounded the ball for 168 and two touchdowns in Michigan's strong victory.
With that, I'm going to end on a positive note and gloss over the Wildcats '96 victory. I'll save my praises for Northwestern for Saturday night if they beat Ohio. But as for Michigan, history seems to be on the Wolverines side Saturday. 4-0 starts tend to mean good things for Michigan, and as we all know, the Little Brown Jug has spent more time in Ann Arbor than Minneapolis. Now all Michigan needs is for Devin Gardner to finally channel Tom Harmon through his #98 jersey. Go Blue!
Overall Record on October 5th
1895 vs. Michigan Military Academy, 34-0
1901 vs. Case, 57-0
1904 vs. Ohio Northern, 48-0
1907 vs. Case, 9-0
1912 vs. Case, 34-0
1918 vs. Case, 33-0
1929 vs. Michigan State, 17-0
1935 vs. Michigan State, 6-25
1940 vs. Michigan State, 21-14
1946 vs. Iowa, 14-7
1957 vs Georgia, 26-0
1963 vs. #6 Navy 13-26
1968 vs. Navy, 32-9
1974 at Stanford, 27-16
1985 vs Wisconsin, 33-6
1991 at #9 Iowa, 43-24
1996 at #22 Northwestern, 16-17