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September 21, 2019 Go Blue Game Day - Michigan at Wisconsin Football

Posted on September 21, 2019 by Barry Gallagher

Hello again Wolverine fans – it’s time for Michigan at Wisconsin football on Go Blue Game Day. We are only talking about the third game of the season, but this one is BIG. It is a BIG game because it is the conference opener for both teams. It is also BIG for Michigan because it is a road game against a Top 25 ranked team. In fact, Wisconsin is the thirteenth ranked team in the country today and Michigan is just ahead at number eleven. Yes, it is a very BIG game for both teams.

(Note - Tony Boles (#42) above led Michigan to a huge win at Wisconsin (62-14) in 1988. He rushed for 179-yards and scored 3 touchdowns. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are off to a solid start with a record of 2 wins and 0 losses, but it hasn’t been pretty. The vaunted “Speed in Space” offense looks a lot like last year except for all the penalties, fumbles and dropped passes. Michigan must improve in all phases of the game if they are to win in Madison today. And, oh by the way, they need to stop Jonathan Taylor.

Wisconsin is also undefeated, but people are wondering how good they are since they haven’t played the toughest schedule so far. However, they do have the number one defense in the country. Today’s game will be a big test for a freshman quarterback who has never played against a Don Brown defense. It could be very interesting.

Before I get into my predictions about today’s game, let’s take a closer look at what has happened so far when Michigan plays on the twenty-first day of September. Then, we will shift our attention to the history of Michigan vs Wisconsin football. Finally, I will connect all the dots and predict the winner and the score of today’s critical game.

Calendar History-September 21st:

Michigan has played a total of six games on the twenty-first day of September so far. Yes, today’s game will be the first game ever between these conference rivals on September. As of today, the Wolverine record on this date is 5 wins, 1 loss and 0 ties which works out to a winning percentage of just over eighty-three percent (.833). As you can see from the chart below, they have been outstanding in non-conference games, but have yet to be tested in conference play.

Type Game # of Games Won Lost Tied Win %
Non-Conference 6 5 1 0 .833
Conference 0 0 0 0 N/A
All Games 6 5 1 0 .833

The average score of Michigan’s first six games on September 21st is 21-11. I would definitely take that score today!

Here is a little more history about Michigan football on this date.

  • Michigan’s first game on this date took place in 1968. Unfortunately, it did not end well as the Wolverines lost in the Big House to California by a score of 7-21.
  • The biggest Wolverine victory margin on this date was 31 points – twice. In 1974 Bo’s Wolverines shut out Colorado 31-0. In 1985, Ji Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a 34-3 win at South Carolina.
  • Michigan won the last game they played on this day at UCONN in 2013. The Wolverines escaped with a 24-21 win over a bunch of fired-up Huskies..

Notable Wolverine Performances on September 21st:

  • 1985 –Thomas Wilcher gained 106-yards on 16 carries to help Michigan defeat Indiana (42-15).
  • 1996 – Scott Dreisbach completed 19 of 28 passes for 292-yards. Sophomore running back Clarence Williams turned 25 carries into 133 yards. Michigan beat Boston College by a score of 20-14.
  • 2013 – Fitz Toussaint carried the ball 20 times for 120-yards in the hard-fought win at UCONN.

Michigan vs Wisconsin Program Summaries

Here is a quick look at the “Tale of the Tape” for both programs:

Program Area Wisconsin Michigan
First Football Season 1889 1879
Total Wins 707 955
Total Losses 495 342
Total Ties 53 36
Winning % .569 .730
National Championships 0 11
Heisman Winners 2 3
All-Americans (Consensus) 32 83
Big Ten Championships 14 42

Michigan at Wisconsin Football Series History:

Today’s Michigan at Wisconsin game marks the sixty-eighth contest between these two conference rivals. This will be the first time that these Big Ten rivals have ever played on September 21st. The first game between Michigan and Wisconsin was played in Madison in 1892. The Wolverines defeated the Badgers by a score of 10-6.

The biggest series win belongs to Michigan. Bo Schembechler showed no mercy in a 56-0 victory in 1977.

Wisconsin’s biggest series win took place in 2009 – a 45-24 blasting of Rich Rod’s Wolverines.

The Wolverines own the longest series win streak at 14 games (1965-1980) while the Badgers won 3 straight against the Wolverines from 1959-1962.

Michigan has a huge advantage in the overall series (51-15-1). Things are almost as good in Madison where the Wolverines own a record of 21-7-1.

Michigan’s biggest win in a Big Ten opener at Wisconsin took place in 1988. Bo’s Boys blasted the Badgers 62-14.

The last game between these two Big Ten rivals in Wisconsin was played on November 18, 2017. Final Score: Wisconsin 24 Michigan 10 - ouch!

History is definitely on Michigan’s side in this series, but they must break a four-game losing streak (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2017) to start the Big Ten season in style today.

Notable Performances Michigan at Wisconsin:

In addition to fifty-one wins over the Badgers, Michigan players have had some amazing performances against the Red and White in Wisconsin. Here some of the most notable Wolverine road performances against the Wisconsin:

  • 1904 – Wolverine legend Willie Heston ran 75-yards for a score in a big win (28-0) over the Badgers.
  • 1970 – Paul Staroba hauled in six Don Moorhead passes for 178-yards including a 70-yard touchdown in a 29-15 win over Wisconsin.
  • 1975 – Gordon Bell set a Michigan record for most rushing yards by a Wolverine running back in Wisconsin with a stellar total of 210-yards on 28 carries and ?? touchdowns. Michigan won the game by a score of 23-6.
  • 1986 – Jim Harbaugh completed 15 of 24 passes for 310-yards and 1 touchdown. He also ran for one score. Thomas Wilcher rushed for 2 scores and Gerald White caught the Harbaugh scoring pass. Kicker Pat Moons made two field goals and all four extra points Kenny Higgins caught of those throws for 165-yards. Michigan won big – 34-17.
  •  1988 - Yes, this was a HUGE win for Bo’s Wolverines. Tony Boles ran for three touchdowns and four other Wolverines also ran for a score. Greg McMurtry and Derrick Walker also caught scoring passes.
  • 2001 - Marlin Jackson returned a Badger punt for 43-yard score in another Wolverine win (20-17) vs the Badgers. This was the last time Michigan won at Camp Randall Stadium.

Yes, Michigan Men have made some great plays in Madison. Let’s hope something magical happens against the Cheese Heads today.

Jim Harbaugh led Michigan to a 34-17 win at Madison in 1986. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Today’s Game - Michigan at Wisconsin:

It has been eighteen seasons since Michigan last defeated Wisconsin at Madison. Today’s game promises to be another bruising battle against some very BIG men on both sides of the ball. Wisconsin has plenty of good players on their roster and so do the Wolverines. Yes, it’s going to be a battle!

Michigan’s game plan is pretty simple – stop Jonathan Taylor, or at least slow him down and limit his trips to the end zone to two or less. Hopefully, Michigan will take away Taylor and the running game and force the Badgers into a passing game against Don Brown’s defense.

Yes, Michigan and Wisconsin are two very good football teams. Both teams have stingy, hard-hitting defenses that will make it hard for the offenses to score. This will be the most physical game of the season – so far. As usual, the team that makes the fewest mistakes will probably win the game - big surprise, right?

My Prediction:

As of this writing, Michigan is n underdog in this matchup by 2-3 points. This is one of the biggest games in the history of the Michigan vs Wisconsin football rivalry. I think the Wolverines will come out strong and play their best game of the season. The Wolverine defenders will shut down Wisconsin’s run game and force freshman quarterback Jack Koan to beat them. Michigan’s offense will take care of the ball and minimize the penalties. The Maize and Blue run game will total at least 200-yards and our receivers will make some big catches. Shea Patterson will play a clean game and make some big plays when needed. Michigan kickers Jake Moody and Quinn Nordin will come through when needed. Yes, this will be a “Big Ten Big Boy” football game. There will be some ferocious battles in the tranches – for sure! However, I think Michigan ends their four-game losing streak at Camp Randall Stadium. Final Score: Michigan 24 Wisconsin 14. Go Blue!

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