John Henderson Michigan Football 1964 | gobluefootballhistory.com Go Blue Game Day 2018 | Michigan Wolverine Football History

Go Blue Game Day October 20, 2018 – Michigan vs Michigan State Football

Posted on October 19, 2018 by Barry Gallagher

Hello again, it’s Michigan vs Michigan State football week. That’s all I have to say. This rivalry goes all the way back to 1898 and it is one of the nastiest events on the college football calendar. Bottom line -these teams just don’t like each other and most of the fans don’t either! In addition to all the bad feelings between the two teams, there is also a trophy to contend for. In 2018, Michigan is contending for the conference championship and Sparty is fighting to stay in the hunt.

Before I get into my predictions about Saturday’s game, let’s take a closer look at what has happened so far when Michigan plays on October 20th. Then, we will shift our attention to the history of the Wolverine-Spartan rivalry.

Note: John Henderson, #81 above, catches the winning touchdown pass from Rick Sygar in 1964. The final score was 17-10 in favor of the visitors from Ann Arbor. Michigan went on to win the Big Ten Championship and the rose Bowl too! Go Blue! (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.) 


Calendar History:

So far, Michigan has played a total of fifteen games on October 20th. The Wolverine record on this date is very good with 11 wins and only 4 losses. This works out to a winning percentage of just over eighty-four percent (.733). Michigan has played seven home games on this date and their record is 6 wins and 1 loss. Of course, Michigan’s road performance is critical today. The Wolverines have played eight road games on October 20th and they own a respectable record of 5-3-0. Today’s game is the first time that they will journey to East Lansing to play the Spartans on October 20th.


Type Game # of Games Won Lost Tied Win %
Non-Conference 3 3 0 0 1.000
Conference 12 8 4 0 .750
All Games 15 11 4 .0 .733

Interestingly, Michigan vs Michigan State football games have been played twice on October 20th. Both games were played in Ann Arbor and Michigan won them both. Check it out:

  • 1917 – Michigan defeats Michigan Agricultural 27-0.
  • 2012 – Michigan prevails in a close one 12-10 to post program win #900.

Once again, it appears that history is on Michigan’s side when they play on the twentieth day of October. Here is a little more history about Wolverine Football on this date.

  • 1900. Michigan’s first game on this date took place in 1900. The Wolverines hosted the Purdue Boilermakers in the first ever Homecoming game against a college opponent, not an alumni team. Michigan won the game 11-6.
  • 1928. Wolverines lose their first game on this date @ OSU by a 7-19 score.
  • 1934. Michigan defeats Georgia Tech in the famous “race” game. The visitors said that if African American Willis Ward was allowed to play, they would not come to Ann Arbor. As it turned out, Ward was benched for the game, and Michigan won their only game of the season – 9-2. So, racial prejudice won another fight, but the Wolverines won the game!
  • 1962. Bump Elliott’s team experienced Michigan’s biggest loss ever on this date at Purdue. The Boilermakers had their way with the Wolverines that day. Final Score: 37-0! Ugh.
  • 1973. Bo Schembechler’s 4th ranked Wolverines post the biggest win on this date. A convincing 35-6 win over Wisconsin.
  • 2012. Michigan won the last game they played on this date. Yes, it was the 12-10 victory that made the Wolverines the first 900 game winner in college football history.

How cool would it be if the Wolverines can win #950 on October 20, 2018 against the Spartans? The only thing better than a rival win is a rival/milestone win in your rival’s back yard!

Notable Wolverine Performances on October 20th:

  • 1900. Hugh White and Daniel Woodard each scored a touchdown (5 points in those days) and Everett Sweely kicks the PAT in Michigan’s first ever Homecoming win (11-6) over Purdue.
  • 1906. John Garrells kicked a 25-yard field goal (4 points) and the Wolverines score a safety (2 points) in a 6-0 win over Ohio State in Columbus.
  • 1917. Future Michigan coach Tad Wieman scores three touchdown and Archie Weston adds another. Yost’s footballers defeat Michigan Agricultural 27-0 at Ferry Field.
  • 1973. Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin ran for a touchdown and threw a 46-yard scoring pass to Paul Seal. Chuck Heater (11 rushes for 71 yards) and Gil Chapman (18 carries for 92-yards) also scored touchdowns. Michigan won 35-6 over Wisconsin.
  • 2007. Chad Henne threw for 201-yards (18 of 26) and two touchdowns. Adrian Arrigton caught one of Henne’s passes for a 39-yard score! Carlos Brown led Michigan on the ground with 113-yards on 25 carries. Michigan defeated Illinois by a score of 27-17.
  • 2012. Michigan earns a BIG win over Michigan State. Matt Wile nailed a 48-yarder and Brendan Gibbons scored on three “short” field goals (24, 21, 38) to defeat the Spartans 12-10. Yes, Brady Hoke got his first, and only, win over MSU and Michigan got program win #900.

Michigan vs Michigan State Football Series History:

Yes, it’s Michigan State week which is also called Hate Week by many MSU and UM fans. This game continues to be one of the most intensely played game of any college football season. There is always a lot of intensity in college football, but this game also tops the charts in the level of “nasty” that is displayed by both teams.

Today’s game is the 111th meeting between the bitter Mitten State opponents. Both teams are coming off of BIG wins, but this game is even BIGGER! College football doesn’t get any better or BIGGER than this! Yes, the third series game on October 20th promises to be another one for the ages!

Lets take a quick look at some of the “history” of Michigan vs Michigan State Football:

  • 1898 The first Michigan vs Michigan State football game took place on October 12, 1898 at Regents Field in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines defeated the Aggies from Michigan Agricultural College (MAC) by a score of 39-0.
  • 1902. Michigan dominates MAC to the tune of 119-0. It is the largest margin of victory for a series game – ever!
  • 1983. Bo’s Wolverines earn the biggest win ever at East Lansing. Michigan 42 Michigan State 0!
  • 2017. The last game between these two Big Ten rivals was October 7, 2017. Michigan lost that game by a score of 10-14.

Finally, the last “UM-MSU “rival” game at Spartan Stadium took place on October 29, 2016. Jim Harbaugh’s second-ranked Wolverines put Sparty away by a score of 32-23. However, it wasn’t easy.

So far, Michigan and Michigan State have played a total of one-hundred and ten games. Check out the series numbers below:

Type Game # of Games Won Lost Tied Win %
UM Home 74 49 22 3 .682
UM Away 36 20 14 2 .583
Series Total 110 69 36 5 .650

History is definitely on Michigan’s side in this series. All of the numbers really favor the Wolverines at home and on the road. However, recent history has not been kind to Michigan. The Spartans have won 8 of the last 10 games. The good news for the Wolverines is that they defeated Sparty the last time they played in East Lansing.

Notable Performances Michigan vs Michigan State Football in East Lansing:

In addition to sixty-nine wins over the Spartans, Michigan players have had some amazing performances against the Green and White. Here are some of the most memorable Wolverine efforts during Michigan vs Michigan State football contests in  East Lansing:

October 14, 1911. Michigan posted their first ever win in East Lansing by a score of 15-3.Fred Conklin kicked a 20-yard field goal and Stan Wells and George Thomson each scored one touchdown. (Note-The first East Lansing game ended in a 0-0 tie in 1908.)

October 11, 1924. Series game #19 was another win for Michigan (7-0) In fact, it was the ninth straight series win for the Wolverines. To make matters worse for Sparty, it was the “dedication” game of new “College Field.” Fred parker threw a 45-yard scoring pass to Herb Steger to ruin the day for the Green and White footballers and their fans.

September 25, 1948. Another dedication game in East Lansing and another loss for MSU! Michigan wins a close one over Biggie Munn’s fired up Spartans 13-7. Tom Peters ruined the Macklin Stadium party with a 5-yard scoring run a a 40 -yard scoring pass to Dick Rifenburg.

October 10, 1964. Sophomore Rick Sygar was the star on this day. The Wolverines won a very tense game − 17-10. Sygar scored on a short run and then sealed the deal with a halfback pass for 31-yards to speedy John Henderson. This BIG win helped propel the Wolverines to the Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl victory.

Butch Woolfolk Michigan Football 1981 | gobluefootballhistory.com

Butch Woolfolk #24 ran for 253-yards against MSU in 1981. It’s the best total ever for a Wolverine against Sparty. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

October 10, 1981.  Running back Butch (Don’t call me Harold) Woolfolk led Michigan to a 38-20 win over Sparty. He ran for 253-yards on 39 carries and Michigan scored 5 rushing touchdowns. Bo’s guys ran it down MSU’s throat and Schembechler loved it!

October 8, 1983. Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines racked up the most lopsided victory in series history in East Lansing. Michigan won it 42-0 and it wasn’t even that close! Quarterback Steve Smith led the way with 149-yards passing on 11 completions in 16 attempts. He ran for a touchdown and threw for another. It was a fun game for the Wolverines.

October 25, 1997.  Fifth-ranked Michigan fights off a feisty Michigan State team to run their record to a perfect 7-0-0. Charles Woodson and the defense lead the way on this day. MSU was averaging 34-points a game and only score seven (on a trick play)! The Wolverines picked off six Spartan aerials. Brian Griese led a penalty-free offense that scored just enough to seal the deal. Griese scored on a 1-yard run and Chris Howard (21-carries for 121-yards) ran for the other. I will always take a 23-7 win in East Lansing!

October 1, 2005. Chad Henne completed 26 of 35 passes for 256-yards and 3 touchdowns and kicker Garrett Rivas made two field goals to propel the Wolverines to a 34-31 overtime win. Series game #90 saw the hated rivals battle to a second straight overtime before Rivas won it from 35-yards out. Jason Avant (2-yards), Mario Manningham (43-yards) and Brian Thompson (5-yards) caught Henne’s scoring passes and Mike Hart also rushed for a 1-yard touchdown.

October 29, 2016. After a bizarre series loss to the Spartans in 2015, Jim Harbaugh’s second-ranked Wolverines went to East Lansing to gain his first rival win. Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened! However, it wasn’t easy! Michigan took the lead early in the 2nd quarter on a 1-yard run by Jabrill Peppers. Later, De’Veon Smith scored on runs of 1-yard and 5-yards. Kenny Allen booted three field goals (23 23 and 45 yards) and Peppers finished the game with a 94-yard PAT return for the final two-points. Final Score: Michigan 32 Michigan State 23.

Yes, some of the greatest games and plays in Michigan Football history have taken place in East Lansing. I think something magical happens against the Green and White today as well!

Chad Henne Michigan Football 2007 | gobluefootballhistory.com

Chad Henne (4-0 vs MSU) led Michigan to tough wins in East Lansing in 2005 and 2007. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Michigan vs Michigan State Football Today.

At this point in the 2018 season, Michigan and Michigan State are both playing well. Both teams are also coming off HUGE wins. Michigan’s record of 6-1 has them sitting as the sixth ranked team in the country. They are tied for first in the Big Ten East Division with a record of 4-0. Meanwhile, Sparty, at 4 wins and 2 losses, is the twenty-fourth ranked team this week. The Spartans have a 2-1 conference record and absolutely cannot afford another Big Ten loss. This is truly a HUGE game for both teams.

Yes, there is a lot riding on the outcome of this historic game. Of course, game #111 in series history could be a real “history maker” for Michigan since it would mark the 950th program win for the Wolverines. No other program in the history of college football has more victories – Nooooooooooooooooobody!

As of this writing, Michigan is a seven-point favorite. However, I think the Wolverines will do better than that today if they can get their passing game going early and set up the run for the rest of the game. It will definitely take a “bigger” playbook to win today. Sparty’s run defense is the best in the country. I am certain that Michigan State will give the Wolverines all they can handle. Yes, they  might have a trick play on every drive. Sparty will have more “tricks” today, but Michigan has the best team. Like last year, the weather may be the “X” factor in this one. The good news is that both teams will have to play in it. I’m looking for a decisive win. A victory today will be another milestone win for the Wolverines. The only thing better than winning a milestone game is winning it in your rival’s back yard! Go Blue, Beat MSU!

My Prediction:

Michigan has earned twenty wins in East Lansing dating back to 1911. The average score of of those games has been 24-11. I think today’s result will be close to that, very close. Again, Michigan is undefeated on this day against Michigan State (2-0-0).  I think Michigan prevails by a score of 27-10. At the end of the day Michigan posts program win #950, Big Ten win #508, and series win #70. And, Paul Bunyan get’s to go “Home.” What a great day! Go Blue!

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