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Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903

"[Michigan's] head football coach was Fielding H. Yost. The Wolverines played their home games at Regents Field. The 1903 team compiled a record of 11-0-1 and outscored opponents 565 to 6. The only points allowed came on a touchdown in a 6-6 tie with Minnesota. All eleven wins were shutouts. The 1903 Michigan team was the third of Yost's 'Point-a-Minute' teams and has been recognized retrospectively as a co-national champion by the National Championship Foundation," according to Wikipedia.

"Michigan concluded the 1903 season with its traditional rivalry game in Chicago against Amos Alonzo Stagg's Chicago Maroons. The New York Times reported that the game was attended by a record-setting crowd: 'All records for attendance were broken, fully 20,000 enthusiastic spectators braving a heavy snowfall to see the game.' Another account placed the attendance at 15,000. The Michigan Alumnus noted that Michigan men regarded Chicago as 'their dearest rival,' and the Thanksgiving Day game at Marshall Field marked the culmination of the season."

"A blizzard threatened cancellation of the game, but the snow stopped suddenly and the wind died down in the early afternoon. The game was commenced at 2 pm after seven or eight inches of snow were cleared from the field.

"Stagg's 1903 team featured three future College Football Hall of Fame inductees: Walter Eckersall at quarterback, Hugo Bezdek at right halfback, and Tiny Maxwell at right tackle. All-American Frederick A. Speik also played at left end for the 1903 Maroons. The two teams were expected to be evenly matched, but the game, played on a snowy and slippery field, proved to be one-sided. Chicago was handicapped by the illness of Coach Stagg who directed the game from a closed carriage where he lay "bundled up in blankets."

"Michigan scored on every drive in the first half, save one, and Chicago made only one first down in the first half. Eckersall's defensive play was praised in accounts of the game, though, on one play, Willie Heston eluded Eckersall 'by a well-timed hurdle' for a 20-yard gain. Heston scored two touchdowns, but Tom Hammond was the leading scorer with 13 points on two field goals (five points each) and three point after touchdown kicks. The game was played in halves of 35 and 20 minutes, with the second half being cut short to avoid playing after darkness had fallen.

"Walter Camp attended the game, watching from the sidelines. Camp offered the following comments:

The helping of the men on the Michigan team was high-grade football. Their work at helping the man with the ball was as good as that displayed in any game I have seen this season. This is the first western game I have witnessed this year. I was particularly impressed with the work of Heston as a halfback.

"The Chicago Daily Tribune opened its game coverage, 'The premature blizzard which descended on Chicago yesterday made it anything but an ideal football day, but that driving snow storm was gentleness itself compared to what was in store for Chicago's two football elevens.'

"The Detroit Free Press called it 'the most severe drubbing ever administered to the Maroons in the history of football of that institution.'

"Noted sports writer Joe S. Jackson wrote: 'Chicago was not beaten - it was run over, buffeted about, almost made the sport of its opponents at times . . . '

"The Michigan team was the guest of the Studebaker Theatre the evening after the game.

"At a post-season dinner, Fielding Yost said that he regarded Michigan's play in the Chicago game to be 'the best he had ever seen by a Michigan team during his three years here.' Michigan's captain, Curtis Redden, opined that the spectators saw 'the finest exhibition of speed and team work ever seen in the West.'"

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That Michigan team was good. Consider:

"In their 12th season under head coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, the Maroons compiled a 12-2-1 record, finished in fourth place in the Western Conference with a 4-1-1 record against conference opponents, and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 413 to 61."

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