September 26, 1953 Michigan Defeated Washington in First Ever Matchup

1953 Michigan Football Team
The 1953 Michigan Wolverine was the first team to play, and win, against the University of Washington on September 26, 1953. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Today’s post takes a look back to when the 1953 Michigan Football team defeated Washington in the first ever matchup between the two schools. The game was played in Ann Arbor, Michigan in front of 44,086 fans. Unfortunately, this meant that there were were just under fifty-thousand empty seats!

It was the season opener for both teams and Michigan won the game by a score of 50-0. Neither team was ranked going into the game, but the impressive victory vaulted Coach Oosterbaan’s Wolverines to a number four ranking in week two. Michigan used a balanced offensive attack to completely dominate the game from start to finish. Halfback Ted Kress was one of the stars of the game. He completed 5 of 6 passes with one of them going for a touchdown. The talented Kress also rushed for 65 yards and scored two touchdowns. Flint’s sophomore sensation, Tony Branoff, ran for two Wolverine scores.

Fortunately, Coach Oosterbaan’s 1953 Michigan Football team was off to a fast start. The Wolverines won their next three games and remained as the fifth ranked team in the country heading into a road contest with the Minnesota Gophers. The Golden Gophers were the better team on October 24th and Michigan went home to ponder a 0-22 loss.

The Wolverines bounced back with a nice Homecoming win (24-14) against Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately, Oosterbaan’s Single Wing offense was completed stifled during the next two weeks by Illinois (Lost 3-19) and Michigan State (Lost 6-14). Michigan bounced back with a strong showing (20-0) against Ohio State in the final game of the season.

Tony Branoff Michigan Football 1954 | bigblyefootballhistory.com

Tony Branoff became the first sophomore player to be named team MVP in 1953. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Bennie Oosterbaan’s 1953 Michigan Football team finished the season with a final record of 6 wins and 3 losses. They earned a fifth-place tie in the Big Ten with a record of 3 wins and 3 losses.

The 1953 Michigan Football team’s season marked some interesting firsts in Michigan Football History. Here they are:

·         The Michigan vs Washington game was the first ever game played between the two schools. Of course, it was also Michigan’s first series win against the Huskies. The teams have now played twelve games and Michigan holds the advantage at 7 wins and 5 losses. Four of the matchups took place at the Rose Bowl and they are even with 2 wins and 2 losses each.

·         Michigan’s loss to Michigan State marked the first ever Big Ten game between the two hated rivals. It was also the first game ever contested for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Michigan lost the game (6-14) and the trophy to Sparty and the rivalry jumped to a new level of intensity.

·         Michigan started the season with the big shutout win and they finished the season the same way – with a 20-0 victory over Ohio State. It was the first, and only time, that a Bennie Oosterbaan team started and ended the season with shutout wins.

·         Another interesting “first” occurred at the end of the 1953 season. Sophomore Tony Branoff led the team in rushing and scoring. At the end of the season, Tony became the first Sophomore to win team MVP honors at Michigan.

So, the 1953 Michigan Football team started the season with a first, had some more in the middle and finished with two more at the end of the year. Four more reasons why, in my humble opinion, the Wolverines have the greatest “history” in college football. Go Blue!

http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/fbteam/1953fbt.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Branoff

 

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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