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November 15, 1884. First Michigan vs Albion Football Game

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post marks the anniversary of the first Michigan vs Albion football game. Yes, the Wolverines used to play Albion College. In fact, they played 17 times during a 45-year span (1884 to 1929). Let’s take a closer look at the history of Michigan vs Albion football.

First year Michigan Captain Horace Prettyman arranged the first Michigan vs Albion football game in 1884 because that’s what the captains did back then. The Wolverines were the better team that day. Final Score – Michigan 18 and Albion 0.  This encounter was the first game of the 1884 season.

Horace Prettyman MIchigan Football 1884 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Team Captain Horace G. Prettyman led Michigan to victory (18-0) in the first ever game against Albion College in 1884. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Michigan finished their “season” with a second win against the Chicago University Club team. Once again, the Wolverines scored 18 points, but allowed 10. The good news was that they ended the short season with a perfect record of 2 wins and 0 losses.

Prettyman’s Wolverines did not play Albion in 1885, but they did meet again in 1886. In fact, the entire 1886 season was a “home and home” series between the neighboring schools. Michigan won the first game at Albion (50-0) and then defeated their guests by a score of 24-0. So, Michigan finished the 1886 season with another perfect record of 2-0-0.

Michigan continued to play Albion every season from 1887 to 1892. Michigan’s captains led the Wolverines to four more victories (1887 to 1890). Michigan’s first coach, Frank Crawford, had the misfortune to lose to Albion (4-10) which didn’t do much for his job security. Unfortunately, Crawford’s team couldn’t beat Albion and a number of other schools. The Wolverines ended the season with a final record of 4 wins and 5 losses and Crawford was gone.

Frank Barbour, Michigan’s second Head Coach, led the Wolverines to victory over Albion (60-8) and six other teams in 1892. Michigan was starting to play “bigger” schools. Many of them would become Western Conference rivals. Albion was off the schedule in 1893, but back on in 1894. Albion did not appear on a Michigan Football schedule again until 1899. (Another 26-0 win for Michigan.)

Fielding Yost’s “Point-a-Minute” teams rolled over Albion in 1901 ((50-0), 1902 (68-0), 1903 (76-0), and 1905 (70-0). Yost’s one-sided victories helped push Michigan’s record over Albion to 15-1-0.

Fielding Yost Michigan Football 1929 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Fielding Yost scheduled the last game between Michigan and Albion in 1929. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

The final Michigan vs Albion football game was played at Michigan Stadium on September 28, 1929. It was the first game of fielding Yost’s famous “doubleheader” games during the Depression. The enterprising Yost had a gigantic stadium to fill, but most people couldn’t afford a ticket. So, Yost made the “2 games for the price of 1 offer” to get people in the stands. A crowd of 16,412 showed up for Michigan’s last victory (39-0) over Albion. It was the smallest crowd of the season, but considering the “hard times” it was a pretty impressive gathering.

Here is a quick summary of the Michigan vs Albion football series.  

·         First series game November 15, 1884. Michigan wins 18-0.

·         First, and only, Albion win (10-4) October 17, 1891.

·         Fielding Yost had the best record against Albion (4-0-0).

·         Total Games = 17  Michigan’s record: 16 wins and 1 loss. Winning Percentage: .941

·         Average Score: 42.58 to 2.71 in favor of Michigan.

·         Michigan shutout wins (11 of 16 games)

Yes, Michigan and Albion played a lot in the early years of college football. However, it became obvious after Fielding Yost arrived that both teams were headed in different directions on the football field. So, the series ended eighty-eight years ago and that was that! Go Blue!





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