November 26, 1896 was a memorable day in Michigan Football History because it was the day of Michigan’s first indoor game. Michigan’s first indoor game was also the first indoor game in the history of college football.
Coach William Ward took his undefeated Michigan Wolverines to Chicago for a Thanksgiving showdown for the Western Conference Championship. The game was played on Thursday, November 26, 1896 in the Chicago Coliseum in front of a listed crowd of 9,000 people.
Michigan had a record of 9-0-0. That record included two wins and no losses against conference foes (Minnesota and Purdue). Amos Alanzo Stagg also had a pretty good team that year. In fact, Chicago had a record of 14 wins, 2 losses, and 1 tie going into this historic game. However, the Maroons only had a record of 2 wins and 2 losses in conference play. If the Wolverines defeated Chicago, they would win the conference since Wisconsin had a tie on their conference record.
Unfortunately, Ward’s team came up short in Michigan’s first indoor game. It was a very close game, but the Wolverines came up short: Final score: Michigan 6 and Chicago 7. Wisconsin won their final game and ended the conference season with a record of 2 wins, 0 losses and 1 tie. So, a loss at Chicago in Michigan’s first indoor game gave the Wolverines a second-place finish in the first year of Western Conference competition.
Yes, Michigan ended the 1896 season with a final record of 9 wins and 1 loss. The Wolverines finished with a final record of 2-1-0 in conference play. The good news was that it was also the first season that a Michigan football team won nine games in a single season.
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