Prior to the 1995 season, the Michigan Wolverines had never played a football game in the month of August. For many of its early years, the Wolverines football program held most of its games in October and November, and as the schedule expanded, more and more games began to be played earlier in September. Their first August game took place on the August 26th, 1995 against Virginia in the season opener. The matchup saw the Wolverines top the Cavaliers in a close contest, 18-17. Michigan must have enjoyed opening the season in August, because they repeated their early start in 1996. In '96, the #12 ranked Wolverines began their campaign against Illinois, looking to build on a big win in the Outback Bowl against Florida to end the previous season. The Wolverines would do just that and start strong as they handled the Fighting Illini 20-8.
Outside of '96, Michigan's only played one more game on August 31st, and it contained more excitement than the Illinois game. In 2002, the #13 ranked Wolverines opened the season against the #11 ranked Washington Huskies, seeking revenge for a loss at the hands of Washington in the second game of 2001. The Wolverines scored a touchdown in each of the first three quarters but gave up 23 points in the second and third quarters to head into the final frame losing 23-21. Michigan would continue its trend, scoring a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to go up 28-23. But the Huskies would respond on the ensuing possession, scoring a touchdown of their own to regain the lead at 29-28. The two teams traded three-and-outs before Michigan drove down to the Huskies 10-yard line, only to miss the go-ahead field goal. However, the Wolverines would force another three-and-out and proceed to take the ball to Washington's 42-yard line. Facing a 3rd and 10, Navarre's third down pass fell incomplete, but the Huskies were flagged for having 12 men on the field. What would have been a near-impossible 59-yard field goal attempt became a hopeful 44-yard attempt with seconds remaining. Michigan elected to use walk-on kicker Philip Brabbs - who hadn't kicked a field goal during a game since his senior year in high school in '98- and Brabbs punched the ball through the uprights to give Michigan a 31-29 victory as time expired. See highlights here.
The Wolverines look to continue their winning ways on the date of August 31st (and against CMU - the Wolverines are 3-0 vs. the Chippewas) this Saturday. Go Blue!
Overall Record on August 31st
Undefeated at 2-0
1996 vs. Illinois, 20-8
2002 vs. #11 Washington, 31-29
Outside of the aforementioned games, the Wolverines have played twice more in August, with both games falling on the 30th: a 45-7 victory in 2003 against Central and the crushing 23-25 loss against Utah in 2008. Michigan also played its first ever football game way before September, on May 30th, 1879 against the Purple Stockings from Racine College (which no longer exists). The Wolverines outplayed the Stockings over two innings and took their first ever game by a score of 1-0 (Yes, they called each half an inning. You can read more here). On top of these games, Michigan's played three more times prior to September: on March 12th, 1883 in a 40-5 victory against the Detroit Independents, and back-to-back games against Notre Dame on April 20th and 21st of 1888, winning both contests 26-6 and 10-4, respectively.