Michigan football teams with 11+ wins

Submitted by jmblue on January 7th, 2012 at 2:40 PM

A lot of us couldn't believe it when ESPN kept telling us that Team 132 was going for only the fifth 11-win season in school history.  We were correct to be skeptical.  ESPN got it wrong.  The correct total is nine 11-win teams.    

Here is the complete list of Michigan football teams with 11 or more wins, with their pages from the Bentley Historical Library:

1901 team

Coach: Fielding Yost

Captain: Hugh White

Overall record: 11-0 (Rose Bowl; national championship)

Conference: 4-0 (T-1st)

Points scored: 550

Points against: 0



1902 team

Coach: Fielding Yost

Captain: "Boss" Weeks

Overall record: 11-0 (national championship)

Conference: 4-0 (T-1st)

Points scored: 644

Points against: 12


1903 team


Coach: Fielding Yost

Captain: Curtis Redden

Overall record: 11-0 -1 (national championship)

Conference: 3-0-1 (T-1st)

Points scored: 565

Points against: 6


1905 team

Coach: Fielding Yost

Captain: "Boss" Weeks

Overall record: 12-1 

Conference: 2-1 (2nd)

Points scored: 495

Points against: 2  (Note: the one loss was by a 2-0 score.)



Following the 1905 season, schedules across the country were shortened, as a way of making the game safer.  We did not play another 11-game season until the 1970s.

1971 team


Coach: Bo Schembechler

Captains: Frank Gusich, Guy Murdock

Overall record: 11-1 (Rose Bowl) 

Conference: 8-0 (1st)

Points scored: 421

Points against: 83



1986 team


Coach: Bo Schembechler

Captains: Jim Harbaugh, Andy Moeller

Overall record: 11-2 (Rose Bowl)

Conference: 7-1 (1st)

Points scored: 379

Points against: 203



1997 team


Coach: Lloyd Carr

Captains: Jon Jansen, Eric Mayes

Overall record: 12-0 (Rose Bowl; national championship)

Conference: 8-0 (1st)

Points scored: 322

Points against: 144



2006 team


Coach: Lloyd Carr

Captains: Jake Long, LaMarr Woodley

Overall record: 11-2 (Rose Bowl)

Conference: 7-1 (2nd)

Points scored: 380

Points against: 207



2011 team


Coach: Brady Hoke

Captains: David Molk, Kevin Koger, Mike Martin

Overall record: 11-2 (Sugar Bowl)

Conference: 6-2 (2nd-Legends)

Points scored: 433

Points against: 226


Not bad company for these guys to be in.



Wolverine Devotee

January 7th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

I don't care what anyone says, the University should claim the 1973 National Championship out of respect for that team and Bo Schembechler.

They got absolutely screwed by a bunch of rotten Big Ten athletic directors.

The National Championship Foundation recognizes them as national champions, so the university should claim it.

Hell, USC went back to 1939 to claim that title....in 2004!

Yost Ghost

January 8th, 2012 at 1:37 AM ^


National Championship Foundation & Poling System


"The College Football Data Warehouse uses this organization, in addition to Helms and the College Football Researchers Association, for national championships prior to the AP poll's 1936 launch. It does make you wonder why they don't also use them for national championships after 1935, when their criteria remain the same."

"Their 1973 tie amongst Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan makes perfect sense."




"it is considered to have been a "National Champion Major Selector" by the National Collegiate Athletic Association."


January 7th, 2012 at 2:46 PM ^

It wasn't just ESPN though. Hoke and the players were saying it repeatedly as well after the game.  Strange.  They must not be counting the Yost teams for some reason.

Wolverine Devotee

January 7th, 2012 at 2:53 PM ^

ESPN has a problem with counting anything before the AP poll I have noticed.

Everytime I hear Michigan has 3 National titles I feel like I wanna kill someone. To me, that's a huge show of disrespect to the men who won those earlier national titles.

Even saying Michigan has only five 11+ win teams in their history is huge show of disrespect because those men from 1901-1905 went 55-1-1 (in 1903 Michigan had 10 wins, but still you get my point). I would be livid if someone said something my grandfather or etc did doesn't count or was ignored because it was before the AP poll.

Wolverine Devotee

January 7th, 2012 at 10:51 PM ^

I'd pretty upset if someone said that what my grandfather did and the legacy he left at Michigan doesn't matter because it isn't "in the modern era".

Know and respect those who came before you. Had those teams that Fielding H. Yost and those teams he coached been around, the Michigan Football program wouldn't be what it is. He was the architect of the program.

Wolverine Devotee

January 7th, 2012 at 11:46 PM ^

Fuck notre dame and the horse they rode in on. The last time they were nationally relevant, Rick Astley had the #1 song on the Billboard, Never Gonna Give You Up aka Rickroll song.

Just speaks volumes. But hey, they go 0-12 next year and still find themselves ranked or being predicted to go to the BCS the following season.


January 7th, 2012 at 3:01 PM ^

OSU trounced USC 42-17 in the Rose Bowl.

The ADs were unsure whether Michigan would have beat the Toejams with Pat Haden, Lynn Swann and Anthony Davis without Dennis Franklin at QB. I understand that was the ADs main reasoning for voting for and sending OSU (again).  The Buckeyes had Cornelius Greene at QB that year, plus TB Griffin, etc.

Michigan had a sick defense that year too.



January 7th, 2012 at 3:26 PM ^

That was the score of the January 1973 Rose Bowl, when USC kicked OSU's butt. The Buckeyes got their revenge in the '74 game, 42-21, vindicating the Big Ten ADs.

When you consider the difficulty that Bo's teams had scoring in the Rose Bowl—their average output in 10 Rose Bowls was 13.5 pts, with a high of only 23—it's hard to imagine UM laying 42 on USC that season.

Yost Ghost

January 7th, 2012 at 11:25 PM ^

While I don't disagree with your data I think it important to point out the the teams Bo fielded from 1970 - 1974 were arguably his best teams. Granted he had good teams after those years but those teams were pretty dominate and had better records than most of his other squads. As good as those teams were only 1 of those 5 teams got to go to the Rose Bowl. The others had to stay home. Considering how good the defense was in 1973 I have no doubt they would have beaten USC definitively. Even with their backup quarterback. 


January 7th, 2012 at 4:02 PM ^

Bo mentioned in previous interviews as well as one of his own books that USC's team that season was the weakest they had in years.  His exact words were, "We would have killed them." 

OSU beating that Trojan team 42-21 with Cornelius Green, who couldn't throw a pass across the street, probably would have bode well for us too with the running game and insane defense. 

The torture Mike Lantry must have felt that season must have been hell.


January 7th, 2012 at 3:14 PM ^

I could be wrong, but I believe at least once the announcer said "in the modern football era."  That would eliminate the 1901, 02, 03, and 05 teams, leaving on 5 times.  I don't know if it is that disrespectful to those teams.  It was clearly a different game and different era.  Mich only allow 20 total points in those first 4 years.  Obviously, no one will ever outscore their opponents by 550-0 again and scoring 644 points in 11 games is insane.  No disrespect, but there was exactly zero competition on those days.


January 7th, 2012 at 4:17 PM ^

There was competition, we were just much better, and it was primarily because of Yost and the culture he brought to campus. Army claims, with pride, how it dominated football during the WWII years, but it had a huge advantage as most other schools had almost no men fit for football. UM did it without those sorts of advantages. Yes, many programs were just getting up and going, but UM was not the first program, and saying there was zero competition is probably a little strong.

Yost Ghost

January 8th, 2012 at 1:07 AM ^

Well Yost was a phenomenal coach no doubt but I think there is something to be said for the lack of competition at the time. Football was still a relatively new sport outside the Ivy League. At least Rutgers, Princeton, Yale and Harvard could beat up on each other. UM really had no one of equal from 1901-1904. The only team that gave UM fits in the years prior to 1901 was Chicago. Once in a while Minnesota, Iowa or Wisconsin would win a game but Chicago was the only team UM played that did it regularly. From 1896 to 1900 UM went 1-3 against Chicago. UM's overall record with Chicago from 1892-1905 was 8-5 .

Yost Ghost

January 8th, 2012 at 12:36 AM ^

If you look back at the schedules for those early years you'll see that UM played the primary Eastern Ivy League powers of Harvard, Yale & Princeton in 1881 & 1883 and then didn't play them again until 1895. They lost to all 3 but the records show they made a go show of it against Harvard both years. UM did play Cornell (Ivy) regularly from 1889-1894 & 1911-1917 and Penn 1899-1917 (NC 1894, 1895 & 1897). During the NC years of 1901- 1904 you could argue that the level of competition for UM was a factor. UM didn't play any powerhouse programs of that era during those years. The 1918 NC they only played 5 games due to WWI and the only team that looked like legitimate competition (21-6) was Michigan Agriculture (Sparty Noooo). However by the 1923 NC UM's competition had decades to acclimate making that title, IMO, legit. Other Big Ten schools were winning titles at that point. Interesting to note that UM didn't finally beat Harvard until 1930, of course they hadn't played them much since 1895. So that leaves 6 legitimate NC's (1923, 1932, 1933, 1947, 1948 & 1997). I also think it would be reasonable to add 1973 in there as well making the total 7. 

Wolverine Devotee

January 8th, 2012 at 12:47 AM ^

People now when they see Ivy League schools on Michigan's schedules back then criticize it, but they don't realize the Ivy League were the national powers back then.

Michigan could have won 5 straight national titles if not for a head scratching 2-0 loss to amos alonzo stagg and chicago in the season finale.

Sparkle Motion

January 7th, 2012 at 3:23 PM ^

Who the leaders are in 11+ win seasons since ww2? My wife laughed when hoke said it was the fifth time because it sounded like a small number - I shut her down by asking her who had more which of course she couldn't answer, but I couldn't either


January 7th, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

This isn't since World War II, but there's a Sporcle quiz here for the all-time 1A teams with eight or more 11-win seasons. I can't vouch for its accuracy, and it does have the Michigan number incorrect--it gives Michigan with nine 11-win seasons prior to this season, but that's because the source it uses (College Football Data Warehouse) credits U-M with an 11-win season in 1898, but one of those wins is considered an exhibition, so Bentley has that as a 10-win season.

Sione's Flow

January 7th, 2012 at 3:28 PM ^

The powers that be may not recognize the teams of the early 1900's, but that doesn't mean their accomplishments should be discounted.  I recognize 9 teams with 11wins


January 7th, 2012 at 3:34 PM ^

teams to play in bowl games unless they won the bigten title and go to the rosebowl.  Not it was odd to see how few teams won 11 games but given most of the 70's it was bigten title or go home, I get it.  Some of those 10 win teams would have had some bowl victories. 

10 win seasons were the bench mark of success for a long time, not to mention everyone always saying Michigan scheduled themselves out of the mnc game by having 2 top ooc games one always being nd and the other someone else...back in the day of nd being a dominant program. 



January 7th, 2012 at 4:05 PM ^

It's so odd that people accept baseball numbers and wins from that era, but never for any other sport. for some reason the comparison of Jim Brown to Arian Foster or whoever counts as a dominant running back these days is less valid then Babe Ruth to Albert Pujols 


January 7th, 2012 at 4:28 PM ^

I never like the whole "modern era" thing. It's like hearing TSIO fans claiming that since 1950-something they have a better record against us, or that Michigan's stuff happened so long ago and doesn't matter. Uh don't people realize that by the year 2111 people will be saying the same things about the football we're playing now? Bottom line, the only thing that matters is overall record, and the current results


January 7th, 2012 at 5:26 PM ^

I agree that it's unfair to the earlier teams to break stuff down into the "modern era" and "the old fashioned era."

As a little kid, I saw 1942 "pre-modern era" Elroy Hirsch play NFL ball against the Lions in the 50s. There were a number of late 30s and early 40s college players still competing in the NFL at the time.

They did just fine in the "modern era." They were real deal football players. 

I think what happens is that people look at the leather helmets and the grainy black and white photos, consider the Wing formations, and think, "ancient history." But put Bennie Friedman into a time machine, let him work out with modern equipment, let him play, and he's still going to be a hell of a quarterback, because he had the tools.

While the game of course evolves, and while conditioning also improves over the years, the fact is that these guys were the best athletes of their day, but not genetically different from us! Give them the same tools, and they're still going to be fine athletes.


January 7th, 2012 at 7:26 PM ^

I think a big part of it is that the numbers aren't something you can carry over.  Benny Friedman played in an era when throwing on consecutive downs was as rare as an onside kick.  To entirely discount those numbers is ridiculous, but direct comparison is a lot harder. 


January 7th, 2012 at 8:43 PM ^

When now you play an extra MACrifice or a Delaware State a year. A lot of ten win teams on an 11 game schedule would have an 11 win season if you added that. Add that before '75 you weren't guaranteed a bowl and it's not that surprising.
<br>Just since Bo the '72, '73, '74, '76, '77, '78, '80, '85, '89, '91, '99 teams would all be 11 win teams with a 13 game schedule. And the earliest one's may have had an additional shot at it with a bowl game.


January 7th, 2012 at 9:23 PM ^

Thank you for this post. I was having a hard time understanding why people have been saying this was the fifth eleven win team in history. I knew for a fact that we have had more.


January 7th, 2012 at 11:06 PM ^

I agree it's apples to oranges overall, comparing now to yester-year (1900's-1944, or whatever cutoff some asshat wants to use).  But to ignore what happened is ludicrous.  Because Michigan was a school that was able to get it done and others weren't, Michigan is "punished"?  Garbage in my mind.  Sorry Penn State, sorry Ohio State, sorry Illinois, sorry USC, sorry Florida, sorry Oregon, sorry Nebraska, sorry Miami, and sorry Texas, but just because you weren't relevant back then should not mean it "doesn't count" for those who were; the Leaders and the Best.