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This Wolverines Gameday in History Introduces Bob Chappuis

Sept. 26 marks a special day in Wolverines history as the legendary Bob Chappuis debuts to lead a Michigan upset over the heavily favored Great Lakes Naval Training Station. Overall, the Wolverines hold a solid 9-1 record on this gameday.

Bob Chappuis doing his thing
Bob Chappuis doing his thing
1947 University of Michigan yearbook, Michiganensian

To start, let's recap last week since, due to unforeseen circumstances, I wasn't able to finish the article before the UNLV game:

  • Michigan holds a perfect 6-0 record on Sept. 19
  • Notable wins include a 20-9 victory over the Arizona Wildcats in '70 - Bo's second season opener - which illustrated the '69 upset over Ohio wasn't a fluke and beating #1 Notre Dame by a score of 25-7 in '81
  • With a win over UNLV, Michigan remains undefeated on last week's gameday

Alright, with that out of the way, let's dive into Sept. 26, this week's gameday in history. Based on one loss in ten previous games, the past bodes well for Michigan on Saturday.

GREATEST VICTORY

9-0 vs. Great Lakes Naval Training Station in 1942

On the surface, this may not look all that impressive. By football season in 1942, the United States had entered World War II, so football players were beginning to leave the sport to serve their country. This led to a loaded Great Lakes Naval Training Station roster in '42 that included 13 All-Americans and multiple pro football players. On the other sideline, Michigan lost starting halfback Tom Kuzma to injury for the first three weeks of the season, forcing head coach Fritz Crisler to play sophomore halfback Bob Chappuis in the opener against Great Lakes.

Heading into the game, the Ann Arbor News sports editor stated that "Great Lakes was favored by 35 points," which did not bode well for the Wolverines. But the servicemen weren't prepared for Crisler's "razzle-dazzle" offense piloted by Chappuis. As noted by observers, "Great Lakes was 'bewildered'" as "Crisler released a passing attack at unexpected moments, used fake punts, halfback draws out of short punt formation, and a lot of laterals."

Chappuis - read more about why he's one of Michigan's greatest athletes of all-time in this article by John J. Williams - finished his first collegiate football game rushed for 49 yards and completed seven of eight passes for 80 yards and one touchdown. However, the most telling stat of Michigan's upset over Great Lakes could be the following: in the game, "Michigan had used only six substitutes, while Great Lakes played 31 men."

WORST DEFEAT TIE WIN

36-33 vs. Indiana in 2009

I don't like talking about losses, but this victory might be more painful to remember than a 15-20 loss to Missouri in 1959. Six years ago, the Wolverines and Hoosiers were both godawful and tied for last in the Big Ten with matching 1-7 conference records. Here's my summary of the game:

Both gifs created courtesy of woofmaker.com

GAME MOST LIKELY TO REPEAT AGAINST THE COUGARS

21-16 vs. Navy in 1981

Similar to Navy in '81, BYU travels to Ann Arbor as a scrappy independent squad hoping to silence the Big House. Michigan carries momentum into Saturday following a pair of solid victories similar to the energy gained from upsetting #1 Notre Dame a week prior to Navy in '81. I don't expect Saturday's score to be high, and I wouldn't be surprised if it mirrored 21-16 (although I'd bet that 21-17 is more likely).

GAME WE WANT TO REPEAT AGAINST THE COUGARS

50-0 vs. Washington in 1953

In reality, a three-sided coin could be tossed to choose between this game, the 49-0 blowout of Long Beach State in '87, and the 61-7 romp over Houston in '92. But of the three teams Michigan dominated on Sept. 26, the Washington Huskies reside closest geographically to the BYU Cougars - their stadiums are roughly 734.52 miles as the crow flies - so for that reason, this rout edges out the others.

BONUS FACTS ABOUT MICHIGAN STARTING SEASONS 2-1

I spent a little extra time this week and noted all of the seasons that Michigan started with a 2-1 record. There are 39 such seasons in Wolverines football history. In those 39 seasons, Michigan finished with one loss only twice - 6-1 in 1913 and 6-1-1 in 1938 - and averages a little over three losses on the year. In short, a loss in the first three games usually foreshadows more losses. Hopefully that's not the case this year, miracles do happen, and Michigan wins out (just for a minute, imagine what that would do to Michigan State and Ohio fans, it's a pleasant thought, isn't it?).


That does it for Michigan's history on Sept. 26. Saturday should be a good indicator for the rest of the season, so let's hope it mirrors any previous Sept. 26 save for 1959. Go Blue!

Overall Record on Sept. 26

9-1

Game Scores

1942 vs. Great Lakes Naval Training Station, 9-0

1953 vs. Washington, 50-0

1959 vs. Missouri, 15-20

1964 vs. Air Force Academy, 24-7

1970 at Washington, 17-3

1981 vs. Navy, 21-16

1987 vs. Long Beach State, 49-0

1992 vs. Houston, 61-7

1998 vs. Michigan State, 29-17

2009 vs. Indiana, 36-33