March 4, 2024

NCAAF Profiles: Michigan Wolverines

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The Michigan Wolverines are the football team of the University of Michigan. They are known for their iconic winged helmet, and their fight song ‘The Victors’.

The Wolverines have the most all-time wins in college football history with 976 as of 2022. Ever since their inception, the Wolverines have been fierce competitors and many memorable names have come out of the team.

Having the third highest winning percentage in college football history after Boise State and Ohio State, the Michigan Wolverines are prime for NCAAF betting.

Rivalries

Some of the smaller rivalries they share are against Michigan State and Notre Dame. The Wolverines compete annually against Michigan State for the Paul Bunyan trophy. Their Notre Dame rivalry is due to their similar successes since their first match in 1887.

However, their main rival is Ohio State. Their first match was in 1897 and it is seen as one of the fiercest rivalries in college football. At the end of every season, they have a match which is commonly just known as ‘The Game’.

Their rivalry was really highlighted in the ‘Ten Year War’. This took place between 1969 and 1978 with the coaches at the time being former coach and student, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler respectively.

Snow Bowl

One of their most iconic games was the Snow Bowl which took place in 1950. The match was for the Big Ten Conference football championship. If the game wasn’t played then Ohio State would win by default. If the Michigan Wolverines lost then they wouldn’t play in the upcoming Rose Bowl.

As the name suggests, there was heavy snowfall on the field with strong winds. Despite temperatures being around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the match went on. Over 50,000 people watched the game and built campfires in order to stay warm.

In the end, the Wolverines won 9-3. Neither team threatened to score again after the second quarter. Ohio’s coach Wes Fesler was fired after this match as it was Ohio’s fourth loss in a row to Michigan.

Early History

The Wolverines played their first ever game against Racine College in 1879 which they won 1-0.

They joined the Big Ten conference at its inception in 1896. The Wolverines have been members ever since apart from 9 years between 1907 and 1916.

Michigan had the honor of being the first ever football team to win the Rose Bowl which they did in 1902.

Fielding H. Yost

Possibly the greatest coach the Michigan Wolverines ever had, Yost led the team from 1901 to his retirement in 1926. Throughout history, the Michigan Wolverines have won 11 national titles, 6 of which were when Yost was coaching.

His squads became known as ‘point-a-minute’, because of their unbeatable 56-game streak from 1901 to 1904.

Yost understood how popular football was, and how much it was going to grow. This is why he helped to design the Michigan stadium which could house up to 72,000 people, with room to expand. The stadium opened in 1927 and has since expanded to fit over 100,000 people.

Yost was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

Recent History

Since Yost, the Wolverines have won 5 national titles, the most recent being in 1997. This victory was under Lloyd Carr who is also known as the college coach for Tom Brady.

The Wolverines’ reputation began dropping in the later years with coaches being fired after a couple of years. The current coach Jim Harbaugh, was hired in 2015 and has been working to bring the Wolverines back to their former glory.

Alumni

In total, 3 players from the Wolverines have won the Heisman Trophy. The first was Tom Harmon in 1940, then Desmon Howard in 1991, and finally Charles Woodson in 1997.

Possibly the biggest name to come out of the Wolverines was the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford. Ford was a center on the team and was nominated by his teammates as MVP in 1934.

Some notable alumni who later joined the NFL are Tom Brady, Charles Woodson, and Dan Dierdorf.

Throughout the Wolverine’s long history, 6 jersey numbers have been retired. Aside from a brief stint from 2011 to 2015, these numbers are permanently off the field.

 

  • 6 – Francis, Albert, and Alvin Wistert – 3 brothers who all played a tackle position. Active in 1931-1949, retired in 1949.
  • 21 – Desmond Howard – Played wide receiver, won the Heisman Trophy. Active in 1989-1991, retired in 2015.
  • 47 – Bennie Oosterbaan – Played end. Active in 1925-1927, retired in 1927.
  • 48 – Gerald Ford – Played center. Active in 1932-1944, retired in 1994
  • 87 – Ron Kramer – Played end. Active in 1954-1956, retired in 1956
  • 98 – Tom Harmon – Played halfback, won the Heisman Trophy. Active in 1938-1940, retried in 1940.

Conclusion

The Michigan Wolverines have made a name for themselves, not just as a competent football team, but also to have given a start to some of the biggest names in NFL history.

If you mention college football to someone, the Wolverines are usually one of the first teams they think of for good reason.

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