Historical significance of 78-0

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on October 12th, 2016 at 9:48 AM

Scoring 70 or more has only been done 22 times in Michigan history. 

It was only the second time EVER that we scored 70 or more on the road.

Also was only the 4th time we did so in a B1G game.

Let's take a look-

Date Opponent Result
11/24/1888 vs Albion W 76-4
10/8/1892 vs Michigan Athletic Association W 74-0
11/18/1893 vs Northwestern W 72-6
10/26/1901 vs Buffalo W 128-0
11/23/1901 vs Beloit W 89-0
9/27/1902 vs Albion W 88-0
10/8/1902 vs Michigan State W 119-0
10/25/1902 vs Ohio State W 86-0
11/8/1902 vs Iowa W 107-0
10/8/1903 vs Albion W 76-0
10/10/1903 vs Beloit W 79-0
10/21/1903 vs Ferris State W 88-0
10/8/1904 vs Kalamazoo W 95-0
10/12/1904 vs Physicians & Surgeons (Chi) W 72-0
10/19/1904 vs American Medical School (Chi) W 72-0
10/22/1904 vs West Virginia W 130-0
10/25/1905 vs Albion W 70-0
11/25/1905 vs Oberlin W 75-0
10/21/1939 at Chicago W 85-0
9/25/1976 vs Navy W 70-14
11/7/1981 vs Illinois W 70-21
10/8/2016 at Rutgers W 78-0



J.W. Wells Co.

October 12th, 2016 at 9:57 AM ^

Interesting that none of those are close games at all, and most feature goose eggs, whereas if you'd expanded your criteria by one more point to include games in which Michigan scored 69, there'd be a 69-67 game up there.


October 12th, 2016 at 12:48 PM ^

85 scholarships - don't think that was an issue at the turn of the century because teams usually had no more than 20-30 players.  The catch is there really wasn't a bench to clear in blow outs so the starters played most of the game.

Also, I believe at the turn of the century TDs were only worth 4 pts with the conversion worth 2 pts.  


October 12th, 2016 at 1:38 PM ^

Easily one of the most ridiculous, if not THE most ridiculous game in Michigan history.  It was like watching NCAA football on a video game console where both teams were running nothing but money plays. 


October 12th, 2016 at 9:57 AM ^

Man, October, 1904 must have been a great month to be a Michigan fan.  In addition to the 4 70+ point victories that month, listed in your table, they also beat Case 33-0, Ohio Northern 48-0, @Ohio State 31-6, and @Wisconsin 28-0, for a grand total of 8-0 in October, by a cumulative score of 509-6.

Harbuagh's got some catching up to do. ;-)

J.W. Wells Co.

October 12th, 2016 at 10:12 AM ^

What makes it even more amazing is that most of Michigan's non-conference games in the Point-a-Minute era were less than the regulation 70 minutes (two 35-minute halves).  The teams would agree before the game to play 20- or 25-minute halves, etc., and the losing team would often concede at some point in the second half (as Stanford did in the first Rose Bowl).  What allowed Michigan to run up such high scores in many shortened games was the kickoff strategy back then... the team that was scored upon had the option to either kickoff or receive.  In that era with games often massively turning on a turnover or penalty, teams usually chose to kickoff back to their opponent who had just scored, to try to keep the ball out of their own end.  Michigan spent huge chunks of those games on offense.


October 12th, 2016 at 10:29 AM ^

These were the college football rules in 1901...

* The field was 110 yards long.

* Games lasted 70 minutes, with two thirty-five minute halves, but games could be and often were shortened.

* Players played both offense and defense, and if a player left for a substitute, he could not return to the game.

* No forward passing was allowed.

* Tackles and guards were allowed to run the ball.

* Three downs were allowed to gain 5 yards for a first down.

* Touchdowns and field goals each counted five points.  Extra points were worth one point.  No two-point conversions were allowed.

* After a touchdown, the scoring team received the kickoff, which helps to explain why the scores of games were so lopsided. 

I don't know when these rules were changed but it's that last one that's really surprising.  If the scoring team kept receiving the kickoff until they had to punt, RichRod's teams here would have lost by scores of 250-48 and 198-35.


October 12th, 2016 at 10:52 AM ^

I think the rule was, "after a touchdown,  the team that was scored on was given the option of kicking or receiving, and often chose to kick (because field position was so important and fumbles were much more common)."

If you look at the play-by-play of the Georgia Tech-Cumberland game (222-0), you see that Georgia Tech kicked off and received after touchdowns with about an equal frequency:


Admittedly that's 1916 and not 1901, but I think the kickoff rules always gave the option to the team that was scored upon, until the rule was quietly changed once teams stopped choosing to kick off by the 1940s or so.