October 29, 1892 Historic Game Between Michigan and Northwestern

1892 Michigan Football Team | bigbluefootballhistory.com
The 1892 Michigan Football team played the first game in their history against Northwestern on this day in 1892. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Today’s post recalls the historic game “first” game between Michigan and Northwestern in 1892. Yes, the first game between the Wolverines and the Wildcats took place way, way, way back in the Nineteenth Century – yikes!

This “first” football game between Michigan and Northwestern took place at 25th Street Field in Chicago, Illinois on October 29, 1892. It was the final game of a 15 day “road trip. Michigan’s record was 4 wins and 2 losses heading into the inaugural game against a their future Big Ten rival.

Frank Barbour Michigan Football 1892 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Frank Barbour was the first Michigan Football Coach to win 7 games in 1892. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

The game was played in two 20-minute halves. Northwestern held a 10-4 advantage at the end of the first half. Michigan scored the only points of the half (four), but it wasn’t enough. Northwestern won the game by a final score of 8-10. The loss dropped Michigan’s record to 4 wins and 3 losses. (Note-Michigan and Northwestern do not play in 2017. However, Michigan and Northwestern will meet in Chicago in 2018).

The Wolverines played five more games in November and won three of them. By the time the season ended, Michigan finished with 7 wins and 5 losses. It was the highest victory total that a Wolverine team had ever achieved in one season.

In addition to the first game between Michigan and Northwestern, there were a number of important “firsts” associated with the thirteenth season of Michigan Football.

  • The 1892 season was the first one for Coach Frank Barbour, a Yale graduate, who did the job for the 1892 and 1893 seasons. He left Ann Arbor with a record of 14 wins and 8 losses which made him the winningest coach in Michigan Football history – so far!
  • As I just mentioned, the Wolverines won 7 games in 1892, which was another important first.
  • The 1892 season was the first, and only, season in Michigan Football history with 7 games in October.
  • Michigan also played 5 games in November in 1892 – another first!
  • This season was also the first 12 game season in the history of Wolverine Football.
  • The 1892 team was the first, and only, team to play 9 games away from Ann Arbor in one season (4 away games and 5 neutral site contests.)
  • The Wolverines also played “first” games that season against the following schools in 1892: Chicago, DePauw, Michigan Athletic Association, Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin.
  • The 1892 team was also the first team to score over 200 points since they amassed a total of 298 for the season. (Note-they allowed 170 points which was also a “first.”)
  • Finally, the 1892 team was the first team to score over 70 points when they racked up 74 against the Michigan Athletic Association in the first game of the 1892 season.

Yes, the 1892 season was an important time in Michigan Football history. Three of the teams they “first” played in 1892 (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern) are now conference rivals with hundreds of games in the record books. Please come back tomorrow to learn about another Michigan Legend who was truly “one of a kind.” Go Blue!




Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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