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September 23, 2020 Michigan’s First Night Football Game in 1944

Posted on September 22, 2020 by Barry Gallagher

Michigan’s First Night Football Game in 1944

Today we are going back to look at Michigan’s First Night Football Game on September 23, 1944. The Wolverines were having trouble filling their football schedule during the War Years (1941-1945). So, they turned to an opponent that they had not played since 1909. Yes, Michigan played little Marquette College in 1909 and beat them by a score of 6-5. After thirty-five years, it seemed like a good idea to play them again. So, Michigan agreed to travel to Milwaukee to play in a historic game.

(Note - The 1944 Michigan Football team is shown above. Bob Nussbaumer (#40) is seated in the first row - fifth man from the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

Yes, that was a long time ago - seventy-five years to be exact. The game was historic because it was Michigan’s first night football game - ever! I can’t imagine that the lighting was great, but there was enough light to play the game. Apparently Michigan had trouble hanging onto the ball (4 or 5 fumbles), but they managed to grind out a 14-0 win for Coach Fritz Crisler. The “hero” of the game was junior running back Bob Nussbaumer who turned 17 carries into 117-yards.

Bob Nussbaumer was probably the “Player of the Game” in Michigan’s first night game victory in 1944. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Some More Michigan Football History About This Game/Season

  •  This was the second game of Michigan’s sixty-fifth football season.
  •  Michigan’s first night game at Marquette was also the first time the Wolverines ever played on September 23rd.
  •  The Wolverine win against Marquette was program victory number 366.
  •  This game was the second and last game against Marquette.
  •  Of course, Bob Nussbaumer’s excellent game gave him the distinction of being the first Wolverine to rush for 100-yards in a night game.
  •  Michigan ended the 1944 season with a final record of 8 wins and 2 losses.
  •  Finally, it was the only season in Michigan football history where they won three games by a score of 14-0 (Marquette, Illinois and Wisconsin)

(Note - For more information about Bob Nussbaumer check out the link below:


Some More History About Games Played on September 23rd

September 23rd is one of the best days to play football at The University of Michigan. The Wolverines have played seven games on this day and won them all. Yes, the Maize and Blue footballers have a perfect record of 8-0-0 on the twenty-third day of this month.

The Wolverines have a record of 3-0-0 against Big Ten teams on September 23rd. They own wins over Illinois (2000), Wisconsin (2006) and Purdue (2017).

Of course, Michigan has won all of their non-conference games on this day against the likes of Marquette (1944), Duke (1967), UCLA (1972 & 1989), Notre Dame (1978).

Yes, our Wolverines need to play more games on September 23rd, don’t you think?

September 23, 2020 The National Day Calendar Update:

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