For the third week in a row, the Wolverines hold a 14-3 record for Saturday's date prior to this season, with one tie as well in back-to-back weeks now. So far, each of these posts have followed a general forumula: there's five or more pre-WWII games when Michigan destroyed some teams that no longer exist or no longer play in the FBS. From there, the Wolverines tend to not win (i.e. lose or tie) a couple of games before Bo's era begins. If his teams lost or tied any matches, they were usually heartbreakers that kept Michigan out of that year's National Championship discussions. Beyond that, sprinkle a loss or two under Moeller, Carr, or Rich Rod, and you'll reach present day. I keep expecting game day records to near .500 as the season progresses, since tougher matches (i.e. the Ohio game) come towards the end of the year. But that hasn't happened yet.
Before Woodrow Wilson won his first presidential election on Nov. 5, 1912, the Wolverines had already won six straight games on the date of Oct. 19 by a combined score of 224-5. In 1895, Michigan steamrolled the 1894 Western football champs, the Case Western Spartans (at the time known as Adelbert College), by a score of 64-0. Three years later, on a Wednesday, the Wolverines beat Case again, but without as much domination, 23-5. For the record, Case plays in Division III these days. After the turn of the century, Michigan welcomed Northwestern, then known as the Methodists, to Ann Arbor for a gridiron meeting. The Wolverines controlled the game from the opening kickoff as Northwestern carried into Michigan territory twice all game. Before the start of the 1910s, the Wolverines gained two more Oct. 19 victories: a 72-0 blowout in 1904 against the American Medical School in Chicago (like last week, these games against medical schools had to be hilarious/painful to watch) and a comfortable 22-0 win in 1907 against the Wabash Little Giants (for a squad that looks like this, giving up only 22 points against a Fielding Yost-coached team is impressive).
Following the first five Oct. 19 wins, Michigan played Ohio two times in a row on the eighth prime date of Halloween's month. In 1912, the Wolverines traveled to Buckeye country for the 14th meeting between the two rivals. With touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters, Michigan won by a score of 14-0 in what would be the last meeting between both teams for five years (Ohio entered the Western Conference in 1913 while the Wolverines remained independent until 1917). Unfortunately, the Buckeyes knocked off the Wolverines in Ann Arbor come 1929 by a score of 7-0. All it took was a successful forward pass by Ohio early in the second half to secure the victory. Michigan failed on multiple occasions to punch the ball in the end zone, including a drive that stalled at Ohio's one-yard line.
Since the two Ohio games, Michigan's faced only Big Ten opponents on Oct. 19 with a 8-2-1 record against them. The first two wins came in 1935 on the road in Madison, Wis. and five years later against the Illinois Fighting Illini. Behind a powerful passing game, the Wolverines netted three touchdowns in the first half to take an early 20-0 lead against the Wisconsin Badgers. Even though Wisconsin outplayed Michigan in the second half, the Wolverines took the game by a score of 20-12. Half of a decade later as the Fighting Illini rolled into the Big House, Tom Harmon was already three games into his Heisman-winning season. However, Harmon wasn't the star on that Oct. 19, but instead, "Bullet" Bob Westfall plowed through Illinois' defense for 152 yards on 37 carries with one touchdown. But this isn't to say Harmon disappeared that Oct. 19 afternoon: the future Heisman winner accounted for 10 points via one touchdown, one field goal, and one extra point.
Moving ahead, Michigan hosted the Northwestern Wildcats twice in a row on Oct. 19: in 1946 and in 1957. In '46, the two teams battled to a 14-14 tie with both of Michigan's touchdowns scored by future head coach Bump Elliott. His second touchdown -- part of a two-man, 88-yard interception return in the fourth quarter -- evened the score at 14. Over a decade later in 1957, it looked like the '46 game might repeat itself as the teams headed into the fourth quarter stuck in another two touchdown deadlock. But this time, the Wolverines' offense, led by quarterback Jim Van Pelt, exploded for 20 points in the final frame to top the Wildcats by a score of 34-14.
In the 1960s, the Wolverines split Oct. 19 games against teams in Indiana, with a 23-12 loss against the Purdue Boilermakers in ''63 and a 27-22 win against the Indiana Hoosiers in '68. Against Purdue, Michigan fumbled twice in the opening minutes, and the Boilermakers jumped out to an early 14-0 which they never relinquished. Five years later against the Hoosiers, Michigan flipped the Purdue-script and rode Indiana's mistakes to victory. The Wolverines turned two recovered fumbles and an interception into 20 second-half points. They ended up needing every last one of them too as the Hoosier's didn't go down without a fight, scoring 15 points of their own after halftime.
For the next two decades, the Wolverines split a pair of road games, beating Wisconsin in 1974 and falling to Iowa in 1985. After being held to only six offensive plays in the first quarter, Michigan tied the game at 7 before heading into the lockers room in Madison. Following the break, the Wolverines jumped on top of the Badgers to score 14 unanswered points to take a 21-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. But Wisconsin fought back, scoring a touchdown before Michigan added a field goal, bringing the score to 24-14 with a little under 3:30 remaining in regulation. The Badgers found the end zone one more time, but the Wolverines shut the door on Wisconsin to win by a score of 24-20.
A little over a decade later, Michigan went on the road again on Oct. 19, this time traveling to Iowa City to face the Hawkeyes. When I wrote about classic Michigan-Iowa football games back in May, I failed to mention the top-ranked battle between the two teams in '85. Therefore, I'll now mention the tough loss for the Wolverines, but very briefly. Heading into the meeting, #1 Iowa and #2 Michigan looked to gain an edge in both the Big Ten standings and National Championship discussions with a victory at Kinnick Stadium. By game's end, Iowa had outgained Michigan 422 to 182 yards, but the Wolverines never trailed until regulation expired on that Saturday and held a narrow, 10-9 lead in the final moments. After failing to kill the clock, Michigan punted the ball to the Hawkeyes, who quickly drove up the field to set up a 29-yard field goal with two seconds left in the game. Iowa's kicker, Rob Houghtlin, nailed the short kick, giving the Hawkeyes a 12-10 victory.
Under Moeller and Carr in the 1990s, Michigan beat the Hoosiers twice more on Oct. 19 with a 24-16 win in '91 and a 27-20 victory in '96. Like Tom Harmon in '40, Desmond Howard had already begun his Heisman-winning season by the time Oct. 19 rolled around on the calendar. Against the Hoosiers, Howard led Michigan's offense with three touchdown catches as well as a 71-yard kick return in the fourth quarter that setup the Wolverines' final score after Indiana narrowed their deficit to 17-16. Indiana traveled back to Ann Arbor five years later and almost upset the 23-point favorite Wolverines on Homecoming Saturday. Capitalizing on Michigan mistakes, the Hoosiers led 17-7 in the second quarter before the Wolverines woke up and took control of the game. Two-way player Charles Woodson tied the game at 17-17 early in the third quarter on a 48-yard touchdown run off of a reverse, and Michigan added ten more points to end the game in their favor, 27-20.
The most recent Michigan game on Oct. 19 took place in 2002 in West Lafayette, Ind. against Purdue. It wasn't a pretty victory, but a win is a win is a win. The Wolverines made big plays and moved quick on offense all day, with seven plays of double-digit yardage in the first half and every scoring drive lasting less than 3:30. With five seconds remaining, the Boilermakers cut Michigan's lead to two points but failed to recover the onside kick, sealing the Wolverines' narrow victory.
Last week, history told us that Michigan performed well against Penn State on Oct. 12. The game seemed to hold true to history, mirroring past successes until the final moments of regulation and overtime. For this week's game date, the Wolverines hold a 3-0 record against the Hoosiers on Oct. 19. So what does this mean for Michigan on Saturday? Good things? Bad things? Any thing? Nothing? I couldn't tell ya, because unfortunately, previous triumphs from decades ago don't really matter on game day. Team 134 needs to find its footing, so all we can do is hope that history repeats itself and good things happen for Michigan on Saturday. Or bad things happen and the Wolverines eke out an ugly win. I'll take an ugly win after last week. Anyways, Go Blue!
Overall Record on Oct. 19
1895 vs. Case Western, 64-0
1898 vs. Case Western, 23-5
1901 vs. Northwestern, 29-0
1904 vs. American Medical School (Chicago), 72-0
1907 at Wabash, 22-0
1912 at Ohio, 14-0
1929 vs. Ohio, 0-7
1935 at Wisconsin, 20-12
1940 vs. Illinois, 28-0
1946 vs. Northwestern, 14-14
1957 vs. Northwestern, 34-14
1963 at Purdue, 12-23
1968 at Indiana, 27-22
1974 at Wisconsin, 24-20
1985 at Iowa, 10-12
1991 vs. Indiana, 24-16
1996 vs. Indiana, 27-20
2002 at Purdue, 23-21