The Wolverine

October 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 21 of 51

22 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2020 BY JOHN BORTON L aying claim to the top team spot in Michigan football his- tory requires plenty. The Wolverines boast 11 na- tional championships on their résumé. Despite a dearth of Big Ten titles in recent years, they've earned more con- ference crowns than anyone in the his- tory of the league. From Fielding H. Yost to Fritz Crisler to Bennie Oosterbaan, Bo Schem- bechler and Lloyd Carr, they've seized the day and snatched championship hardware. All of that makes any top 10 list a difficult proposition. Mix in attempting to compare eras, and it borders on impossible. That said, here's an all-eras representation of Michigan's football dominance over the past 12 decades in the sport — The Wolverine's top 10 of the best gridiron squads in school history. 1. 1902 CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS, NATIONAL CHAMPIONS Yost arrived a year earlier and al- ready featured a national title team in 1901. He upped the ante the fol- lowing campaign, hanging 644 points on Michigan's beleaguered foes while allowing a mere 12 points all season. The Wolverines devastated Michi- gan Agricultural (later Michigan State) in the third game of the season, 119-0. They beat Ohio State, 86-0; pummeled Iowa, 107-0; and outlasted powerful archrival Minnesota in the season fi- nale, 23-6. The second of Yost's "Point-A-Min- ute" squads earned the national cham- pionship recognition after the fact — no national championship recognition existed at the time — by a handful of credentialing concerns. U-M quarterback Boss Weeks paced a Michigan offense that averaged 58.5 points per game. Halfback Albert E. Herrnstein tallied 27 touchdowns on the season, while counterpart Willie Heston scored 15 times. After blanking Notre Dame (23-0) at a neutral site (Toledo), U-M proved merciless against Ohio State. In front of what was dubbed the largest crowd ever at Ferry Field — 6,000, including 2,000 Ohio State fans — Heston scored on a 70-yard run to help fuel the rout. Yost's teams resulted in a surge of popularity for the sport on the Michigan campus. 2. 1947 CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS, NATIONAL CHAMPIONS The '47 squad — Crisler's final issue in a 10-year head coaching career at Michigan — has always maintained an aura of magic around its 10-0 effort. Start with the nickname itself — The Mad Magicians. Move to the Time magazine descrip- tion of the intricacy of the Michigan offense. It dubbed the squad "a col- lection of chrome-plated, hand-tooled specialists," and noted: "Michigan's slight-of-hand repertory is a baffling assortment of double reverses, buck- reverse laterals, crisscrosses, quick hits and spinners from seven different for- mations." Those who scrutinized that squad swore they often never knew who had the football, until a Bob Chappuis or Bump Elliott would come away with it, freewheeling down the field. The Wolverines began the year with a 55-0 blowout of Michigan State and ended it in a 49-0 dismantling of USC LEADERS AND BEST Ranking Michigan Football's All-Time Top 10 Teams Fielding H. Yost's 1902 squad outscored its foes 644-12 and was later recognized by several outlets as that year's national champions. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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