1925 Michigan Wolverines football team

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1925 Michigan Wolverines football
1925 Michigan Wolverines football team.jpg
Big Ten Champions
Conference Big Ten Conference
1925 record 7–1 (5–1 Big Ten)
Head coach Fielding H. Yost (24th year)
Captain Robert J. Brown
Home stadium Ferry Field
Seasons
« 1924 1926 »
1925 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Michigan 5 1 0     7 1 0
Northwestern 3 1 0     5 3 0
Wisconsin 3 1 1     6 1 1
Chicago 2 2 1     3 4 1
Illinois 2 2 0     5 3 0
Iowa 2 2 0     5 3 0
Minnesota 1 1 1     5 2 1
Ohio State 1 3 1     4 3 1
Indiana 0 3 1     3 4 1
Purdue 0 3 1     3 4 1
† – Conference champion

The 1925 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the college football season of 1925. The 1925 season was Fielding H. Yost's 24th as the head football coach at Michigan. Michigan compiled a record of 7–1 and outscored opponents by a combined score of 227 to 3. The 1925 team won the Big Ten Conference championship and was ranked second in country (tied with Alabama) behind Dartmouth in the Dickinson System rankings.

The only points allowed by the team were in a 3 to 2 loss to Northwestern in a game played in a heavy rainstorm on a field covered in mud five or six inches deep in some places. Michigan shut out seven of its eight opponents and allowed only four first downs in the last three games of the season.

Quarterback Benny Friedman and left end Bennie Oosterbaan, sometimes referred to as "The Benny-to-Bennie Show," were both consensus All-Americans and became known as one of the greatest passing combinations in college football history. Friedman finished second in close voting for the 1925 Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy, which is awarded to the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten. Both Friedman and Oosterbaan were later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Team captain and center Robert J. Brown and guard Tom Edwards also received first-team All-American honors from some selectors.

At the end of the season, Yost called the 1925 Michigan team "the greatest football team I ever coached" and "the greatest football team I ever saw in action."[1] He continued to maintain that the 1925 squad was his greatest team even years later.

Schedule[edit]

Head coach Fielding H. Yost
Date Time Opponent Site Result Attendance
October 3, 1925 Michigan State* Ferry FieldAnn Arbor, MI W 39–0   30,000
October 10, 1925 Indiana Ferry Field • Ann Arbor, MI W 63–0   36,000
October 17, 1925 at Wisconsin Camp Randall StadiumMadison, WI W 21–0   44,000
October 24, 1925 at Illinois Memorial StadiumChampaign, IL W 3–0   67,000
October 31, 1925 Navy* Ferry Field • Ann Arbor, MI W 54–0   47,000
November 7, 1925 at Northwestern Soldier FieldChicago, IL L 2–3   40,000
November 14, 1925 Ohio State Ferry Field • Ann Arbor, MI W 10–0   47,000
November 21, 1925 Minnesotadagger Ferry Field • Ann Arbor, MI W 35–0   47,000
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Eastern Time.

Season summary[edit]

Pre-season[edit]

The 1924 Michigan Wolverines football team under first-year head coach George Little had compiled a 6–2 record but had suffered an embarrassing 39–14 loss to Illinois and Red Grange.[2] On January 22, 1925, Little announced that he had accepted an offer from the University of Wisconsin to become that school's athletic director and head football coach. At the time, Little expressed his appreciation to Michigan's athletic director Fielding H. Yost, and Yost issued a statement noting, "Michigan's loss is Wisconsin's gain. It will take long thought and careful planning to fill the gap he leaves."[3]

Following Little's resignation, Harry Kipke, an All-American for Michigan in the early 1920s, was hired to join Michigan's coaching staff. The Chicago Daily Tribune wrote that it was anticipated that Tad Wieman and Kipke may be given principal responsibility for developing the team under Yost's supervision.[4] Ultimately, Yost took over as head coach for the 1925 team.[5]

The 1925 team returned a number of starters from the 1924 team, including 1925 team captain Robert J. Brown, quarterback Benny Friedman, tackle Tom Edwards, guard Harry Hawkins, and right end William Flora.[2][5]

Michigan State[edit]

Michigan State at Michigan
1 2 3 4 Total
Michigan State 0 0 0 0 0
Michigan 13 0 26 0 39
  • Date: October 3, 1925
  • Location: Ferry FieldAnn Arbor, MI
  • Game attendance: 30,000
  • Referee: H. B. Hackett (West Point)

Michigan opened the 1925 season on October 3, 1925, with a 39–0 victory over Michigan State College in Ann Arbor. A crowd of 30,000 persons set a Ferry Field record for the first game of a season.[6] The game was the 20th meeting in the Michigan – Michigan State football rivalry. Michigan had won nine straight games, eight by shutouts, dating back to 1916.[7]

Michigan scored twice in the first quarter. The first touchdown came on a 65-yard run by Benny Friedman.[6][8] Later in the quarter, Friedman completed a pass to Charles Grube for a 20-yard gain and then completed another pass to Bruce Gregory for a 30-yard gain and a touchdown. After a scoreless second quarter, Michigan led 13–0 at halftime.[9]

In the third quarter, Michigan scored three touchdowns. The first came on a pass from sophomore halfback Louis Gilbert to fellow sophomore Bennie Oosterbaan for a 40-yard gain and a touchdown. The game marked the first in a Michigan uniform for both Gilbert and Oosterbaan. On the next drive, George Babcock ran 68 yards for a touchdown after "scooping up a fumble on the dead run."[6][10] Gilbert kicked the extra point, and Michigan led, 27–0. Later in the quarter, Friedman intercepted a pass and then completed a pass to Oosterbaan for a 24-yard gain and a touchdown.[9] The New York Times noted that Oosterbaan "sparkled in his play" and that both of his touchdowns came on "clever catches and smart running."[6] Gilbert kicked two extra points, and Frederic Fuller kicked one.[6]

Michigan's starting lineup against Michigan State was Grube (left end), Hawkins (left tackle), Lovette (left guard), Thisted (center), Edwards (right guard), George Babcock (right tackle), Flora (right end), Friedman (quarterback), Fuller (left halfback), Gregory (right halfback), and Molenda (fullback). Players appearing in the game as substitutes for Michigan included Bennie Oosterbaan (left end), and Louis Gilbert (left halfback). Michigan's team captain and center Robert J. Brown did not appear in the game due to a foot injury.[6][9]

Indiana[edit]

Indiana at Michigan
1 2 3 4 Total
Indiana 0 0 0 0 0
Michigan 28 0 14 21 63

In the second week of the season, the Wolverines defeated the Indiana Hoosiers, 63–0, at Ferry Field. The game was only the fifth meeting between the two programs and the first since 1903. Michigan had won the four prior games by a combined score of 156 to 0.[11][12]

Benny Friedman threw five touchdown passes in the game, kicked eight extra points, and had a 55-yard touchdown run.[13] In the Chicago Daily Tribune, Walter Eckersall, who served as the referee in the game, wrote that Friedman was "one of the best all around players in the conference."[14] The Associated Press wrote that Friedman "sparkled in the smooth-working Michigan offense."[13]

Bruce Gregory scored three touchdowns, and Bennie Oosterbaan scored two. Friedman, Louis Gilbert, William Flora, and Sam Babcock each scored one. Friedman kicked eight extra points, and Carl Stamman kicked one. In its account of the game, the Associated Press described Michigan's performance as being "a reincarnation of her famous point-a-minute team of old."[13]

Michigan's starting lineup against Indiana was Oosterbaan (left end), Tom Edwards (left tackle), John Lovette (left guard), Robert J. Brown (center), Harry Hawkins (right guard), James Oade (right tackle), William Flora (right end), Friedman (quarterback), Gilbert (left halfback), Gregory (right halfback), and Bo Molenda (fullback). Substitutes appearing in the game for Michigan included Sam Babcock (left halfback) and Carl Stamman (fullback).[13]

at Wisconsin[edit]

Michigan at Wisconsin
1 2 3 4 Total
Michigan 14 7 0 0 21
Wisconsin 0 0 0 0 0
Benny Friedman's 85-yard kickoff return against Wisconsin.

In the third week of the season, Michigan defeated Wisconsin, 21–0, at Madison, Wisconsin. In eight prior games between Wisconsin and Michigan teams coached by Fielding H. Yost, Michigan was undefeated. George Little was in his first year as Wisconsin's head coach after having been an assistant to Yost in 1922 and 1923 and Michigan's head coach in 1924. The game attracted a capacity crowd of 44,000 to Camp Randall Stadium.[15]

Michigan quarterback Benny Friedman held a grudge against Little for refusing to start him at quarterback during the 1924 season. He later recalled: "I could not play quarterback for Coach Little, because I did not personify what he wanted. Now, under Yost, I was the quarterback, and this game meant much to me."[16] On the first play from scrimmage, Friedman faked a pass to Bennie Oosterbaan who was sprinting downfield and threw a pass to Bruce Gregory for a 62-yard gain and a touchdown.[15] Following the touchdown, Wisconsin kicked off, and Friedman returned the kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Friedman converted both extra points, and Michigan led, 14–0, after the first three plays. The Associated Press noted: "It took just thirty-one seconds for Michigan to win the game at Madison and show the football world that Benny Friedman is destined for top rank among the great players developed by Yost."[17]

In the second quarter, Tom Edwards intercepted a pass deep in Michigan territory.[18] After the interception, Friedman completed a pass to Bennie Oosterbaan for the final score of the game.[15] In its account of the game, the Associated Press wrote that Michigan's line outplayed Wisconsin with "Edwards especially wrecking Wisconsin's attempts at a running game."[18]

Michigan's starting lineup against Wisconsin was Oosterbaan (left end), Hawkins (left tackle), Lovette (left guard), Brown (center), Edwards (right guard), George Babcock (right tackle), Flora (right end), Friedman (quarterback), Gilbert (left halfback), Gregory (right halfback), and Molenda (fullback).[15][18]

at Illinois[edit]

Michigan at Illinois
1 2 3 4 Total
Michigan 0 3 0 0 3
Illinois 0 0 0 0 0

On October 24, 1925, Michigan won its fourth consecutive shutout with a 3–0 victory over Illinois at Champaign, Illinois. The victory came as Illinois celebrated homecoming in front of a record crowd of 67,000 at Memorial Stadium.[19] In 1924, Illinois had defeated Michigan, 39–14, as Red Grange scored four touchdowns in the span of ten minutes. Stopping Grange was considered to be the key to beating Illinois in 1925.[20] During the pre-season practice sessions, Michigan's line coach Tad Wieman dressed a player in a sweater with Grange's number and sent his guards and tackles "after the mythical Grange with instructions to 'hit him hard.'"[21] Before the game, Michigan coach Fielding H. Yost told reporters: "One of the greatest throngs in all football history is here. For weeks the game has been on every tongue. . . . Our players have been compared as to weight, speed, and ability. The stage is set."[22]

The only points of the game were scored in the second quarter on a Benny Friedman field goal from the 25-yard line. The field goal was set up by a Bennie Oosterbaan interception and a long gain on a triple pass from Friedman to George Babcock who then handed the ball to Bruce Gregory. Earl Britton of Illinois attempted two field goals, but both missed the mark. The game was played on a rainsoaked field which was credited with handicapping Illinois' All-American Red Grange.[19][23]

Michigan fullback Bo Molenda was also credited with stopping Grange. Grange played at quarterback for the first time in his career and was held to 56 net rushing yards on 25 carries.[20][23][24] The Associated Press wrote of Molenda's efforts: "Molenda was the principal reason why the Illini's aerial attack was unsuccessful. Time after time he got in the way to make the pass incomplete or to gather it in his arms."[20] Molenda intercepted a pass thrown by Grange on the opening drive of the game and made a second interception of a pass thrown by Earl Britton later in the first quarter. He had two more interceptions in the fourth quarter, both on passes thrown by Daugherty.[23] Multiple sources indicate that Molenda intercepted a total of five passes in the game.[24][25]

In an increasingly rare display of ironman football, the same 22 players who started the game for Michigan and Illinois also finished the game. The Associated Press noted: "The fact that the same men finished the game is causing wide comment, for such a happening has not occurred in Big Ten contests for a great many years. This seems to be the age of wholesale substitutions, and to have two elevens go through an important and hard contest without rushing in new men every few minutes is to upset modern football precedent."[26]

Michigan's starting lineup against Illinois was Oosterbaan (left end), George Babcock (left tackle), Lovette (left guard), Brown (center), Dewey (right guard), Hawkins (right tackle), Flora (right end), Friedman (quarterback), Gilbert (left halfback), Gregory (right halfback), and Molenda (fullback).[19][23]

Navy[edit]

Navy at Michigan
1 2 3 4 Total
Navy 0 0 0 0 0
Michigan 21 0 14 19 54
Michigan running play vs. Navy: Bruce Gregory in center of frame; Bo Molenda at far left.

Michigan secured its fifth consecutive shutout with a 54–0 victory over Navy at Ferry Field on October 31, 1925. The game was the first meeting between the two traditional football powers.[27] The 1925 Navy team came into the game undefeated, averaging almost 23 points a game, and featuring two players (Tom Hamilton and Frank Wickhorst) who were later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The defeat was the worst suffered by a Navy football team up to that time.[28][29]

On Michigan's second play from scrimmage, quarterback Benny Friedman completed a pass to Bruce Gregory for a 20-yard gain, and Bo Molenda then ran 18 yards for a touchdown. Michigan scored its second touchdown when William Flora blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone. According to one account, Flora broke threw the line so quickly that he was able to snatch the ball as it dropped from the punter's hand to his foot.[30] On the next scoring drive, Friedman passed to Sammy Babcock and then threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Molenda. Michigan led 21–0 at the end of the first quarter.[31][32]

In the third quarter, Friedman passed 22 yards to Oosterbaan for the fourth touchdown. On the next drive, Friedman completed two passes to Oosterbaan, with Oosterbaan running out of bounds at the Navy one-foot line after the second pass. Molenda ran for the touchdown from there. In the fourth quarter, Michigan played its second-string backfield. William Herrnstein returned a punt 50 yard and then scored on a run from the 11-yard line. James Miller intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. And Leo Hoffman ran for a final touchdown just before the game ended.[31] Friedman kicked five extra points in the game, and Miller added one.[31][33]

Writing in The New York Times, Richards Vidmer opened his account of the game as follows: "The greatest naval disaster of them all took place on Ferry Field today when a hungry pack of Wolverines set upon the Navy eleven from Annapolis, snarled and snapped, chewed and clawed, and finally buried the Easterners under a defeat of 54 to 0. It probably was the worst defeat the Navy ever has suffered on land or sea."[31] Vidmer added that the Michigan squad played "like one big monster" and opined that the team would probably go down in history as Fielding Yost's masterpiece.[31] Writing in the Chicago Daily Tribune, James Crusinberry also employed a naval metaphor: "Under a maze of forward pass plays, double passes, delayed passes, and criss-cross, Uncle Sam's proud gridiron dreadnaught, rocked by a great Michigan tidal wave, limped into port tonight on the leeward side of a 54 to 0 score."[34] Crusinberry opined that Michigan had "played more new football . . . than any team ever did in one game" and declared quarterback Benny Friedman the star of the game:

"If any one man stood out, it was Benny Friedman, who hurled forward passes with accuracy and abandon time after time. . . . Besides that, Benny was a regular whirligig in carrying the ball. And it was Benny who was the field general. His selections of plays was something that would make any general envious."[34]

Two day after the game, Crusinberry wrote a column in the Chicago Daily Tribune opining that Michigan's offense was the culmination of the new, less brutish game of football:

"The old time player, who did his stuff by brute strength, has given way to the modern man with a head full of tricks. . . . And now we have Mr. Yost's new Michigan team, with not a Grange on it, but with one of the brainiest players of the age in Benny Friedman and a lot of smart fellows to work with him. Before Benny Friedman ends his career all the teams of the country, even the Navy, will have abandoned the old style football and will be using, or at least trying to use, smart and unexpected stuff. It gains ground, it is spectacular, and it wins."[35]

Michigan's starting lineup against Navy was Oosterbaan (left end), George Babcock (left tackle), Lovette (left guard), Brown (center), Dewey (right guard), Hawkins (right tackle), Flora (right end), Friedman (quarterback), Gilbert (left halfback), Gregory (right halfback), and Molenda (fullback). Players appearing in the game as substitutes for Michigan were Norman Gabel (left tackle), Carl Thisted (center), Ray Baer (right guard), James Oade (right tackle), Charles Grube (right end), Bill Puckelwartz (quarterback), Frederic Fuller and Leo Hoffman (left halfback), Sam Babcock, James Miller, and William Herrnstein (right halfback), Carl Stamman and Wally Weber (fullback).[31][34]

at Northwestern[edit]

Michigan at Northwestern
1 2 3 4 Total
Michigan 0 0 2 0 2
Northwestern 3 0 0 0 3

Michigan suffered its lone setback of the 1925 season with a 3–2 loss to Northwestern at Soldier Field in Chicago. Michigan played the game without its All-American tackle Tom Edwards, who was recovering from an arm injury.[36]

Although the official paid attendance was recorded as 40,000, newspaper accounts reported that only 20,000 actually attended, as the game was played in a heavy rainstorm on a cold afternoon. The rain turned the field into a "sea of mud" with an inch of standing water on top of the mud.[37] In the Chicago Daily Tribune, Walter Eckersall (who also served as the game's referee) compared the field to a "bog" and added:

"In my twenty-five years of football I have never seen worse conditions. Pools of water stood on parts of the field and in some places the players' feet sunk into the field five or six inches. It rained throughout the game and a strong wind from the north gave the team defending that goal a decided advantage."[38]

The conditions on the field were so poor that the schools' marching bands declined the usual halftime parade across the field and instead played from the cinder path around the field.[38]

The poor playing conditions resulted in frequent fumbles by both teams and prevented either team from converting a single first down. Only one pass was attempted in the game, an incomplete pass by Friedman. Northwestern's three points were the only ones allowed by Michigan during the 1925 season. Michigan kicked off to Northwestern to open the game. Seeking to take advantage of the weather conditions, Leland "Tiny" Lewis of Northwestern punted on the first play from scrimmage. Michigan quarterback Benny Friedman tried to scoop up the ball, but he fumbled it and Northwestern recovered on Michigan's three-yard line. Michigan's defense held on three straight runs by Northwestern. On fourth down, Lewis kicked a field goal from the 18-yard line with the ball having "barely enough power" to go over the crossbar.[38]

Michigan's defense played a strong game, and its line was described as "a veritable stone wall."[38] Throughout the game, both teams played a kicking game, punting on second or third down and hoping for a break. Walter Eckersall described the pattern of the game as follows:

Each team would make two attempts to gain. The referee would then charge time out to himself so the centers could wipe off the ball before punting. The ball would be kicked, permitted to hit the ground, and be declared dead by the referee. This was the procedure throughout practically the entire game."[38]

In the third quarter, Michigan had the wind at its back and had field position in its favor. On one drive, the Wolverines pushed the Wildcats' offense back to their own one-yard line. On fourth down, Northwestern faced the prospect of punting into the wind from its own end zone and giving Michigan its best scoring opportunity. Rather than punting, Northwestern captain Tim Lowry directed Lewis to down the ball behind the goal line, giving Michigan two points on the safety. Under the rules in effect at the time, Northwestern received possession of the ball at their 30-yard line after taking the safety.[37][38] Walter Eckersall called Lowry's decision to take the safety "a smart piece of strategy" and "the deciding factor in an otherwise featureless game."[38] Others described Lowry's call "a brilliant bit of generalship" and "a great exhibition of football brains."[39] (The rule allowing the team giving up a safety to retake possession was changed the following year.[40])

Michigan's coach Fielding H. Yost expressed his thorough disgust with the condition of the field and said he may start a movement to postpone games under similar conditions.[38] The Chicago Daily Tribune quipped that, after losing "in one of the best swimming matches Michigan has ever entered," it was a safe bet that Yost would "never again permit a Michigan football team to play a game on Soldiers' Field."[41]

Michigan's starting lineup against Northwestern was Oosterbaan (left end), Gabel (left tackle), Lovette (left guard), Brown (center), George Babcock (right guard), Hawkins (right tackle), Flora (right end), Friedman (quarterback), Herrnstein (left halfback), Gregory (right halfback), and Molenda (fullback).[37][38]

Ohio State[edit]

Ohio State at Michigan
1 2 3 4 Total
Ohio State 0 0 0 0 0
Michigan 7 3 0 0 10
  • Date: November 14, 1925
  • Location: Ferry FieldAnn Arbor, MI
  • Game attendance: 47,000
  • Referee: Maskers (Northwestern)
Bennie Oosterbaan (left) blocking for Bo Molenda (with ball).

In the seventh game of the season, Michigan defeated Ohio State, 10–0, in front of a capacity crowd at Ferry Field. Michigan opened the game focused on the passing game with Benny Friedman throwing 10 passes in the first eight minutes of the game.[42] In the entire game, Friedman completed seven of 26 passes for 71 passing yards.[42] In the Chicago Daily Tribune, Irving Vaughan wrote that, with a dry field, "the Wolverines turned loose a veritable broadside of passes during the sixty minutes of combat, but it was grueling, old fashioned football that won the game."[42]

The only touchdown of the game followed a blocked punt in the first quarter. William Flora of Michigan blocked a punt by Wendler. Ohio State fell on the ball at their own one-yard line, but the ball went to Michigan on downs. From the one-yard line, Friedman twice handed off to left tackle Tom Edwards for no gain or a gain of a foot. Bo Molenda was stopped on third down, but carried the ball across the goal line on fourth down. Friedman kicked the extra point to give Michigan a 7-0 lead.[42]

In the second quarter, Bennie Oosterbaan intercepted a pass at Ohio State's 18-yard line, but a fumble resulted in a loss of 15 yards. Friedman kicked a field goal "at a hazardous angle" from the 40-yard line.[42][43]

Michigan's starting lineup against Ohio State was Oosterbaan (left end), Edwards (left tackle), Lovette (left guard), Brown (center), Baer (right guard), Hawkins (right tackle), Flora (right end), Friedman (quarterback), Gilbert (left halfback), Gregory (right halfback), and Molenda (fullback).[43] Players appearing in the game as substitutes for Michigan were Charles Grube, George Babcock, Sam Babcock, William Herrnstein, and Carl Stamman.[42]

Minnesota[edit]

Minnesota at Michigan
1 2 3 4 Total
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0
Michigan 7 7 7 14 35
Benny Friedman on ground at left after being tackled with the ball against Minnesota.

Michigan concluded its 1925 season with a 35–0 victory over Minnesota for the Wolverines' seventh shutout in eight games. The game was played at Ferry Field before a sellout, homecoming crowd of 47,000 on a warm Indian summer afternoon.[44] Minnesota came into the game with a 5–1–1 record and a highly touted offense featuring Herb Joesting that was averaging 25 points per game.[45][46] More than 3,000 Minnesotans and the 100-piece Minnesota band traveled to Ann Arbor on five special trains.[47]

The Associated Press wrote that Michigan won the game with "a driving line attack and a bewildering aerial game."[48] Michigan's first touchdown drive was led by Benny Friedman's passing. He completed a pass to sophomore Bennie Oosterbaan for a 23-yard gain and followed with a pass to William Flora for an 11-yard gain. Fullback Bo Molenda then ran 24 yards for the touchdown, and Friedman kicked the extra point.[44]

Michigan's second touchdown drive started with a 25-yard gain on a pass from Friedman to Oosterbaan. Sophomore halfback Louis Gilbert then ran 20 yards, and Molenda ran for the touchdown from the one-yard line. Friedman kicked the extra point, and Michigan led, 14–0, at halftime.[44]

In the third quarter, Friedman threw a touchdown pass to Oosterbaan, and Friedman kicked his third extra point. In the fourth quarter, Minnesota opened up its passing game in an attempt to overcome Michigan's 21–0 lead. Halfway through the quarter, Louis Gilbert intercepted a pass and returned it 60 yards down the right side for a touchdown. In addition to the interception return, Gilbert also returned a punt 35 yards in the second quarter, handled the punting for Michigan, and was credited by the Chicago Daily Tribune with "sensational open field running."[44]

Michigan's final touchdown was set up by another turnover, as Carl Stamman intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards to the Minnesota nine-yard line. Friedman threw a pass to Oosterbaan for the touchdown. Benny Friedman completed seven of 16 pass attempts for 130 yards and converted all five extra point kicks to give Michigan a 35–0 victory.[44]

On defense, Michigan did not allow Minnesota to complete a pass and held the Gophers to four first downs, two in each half, and 45 net rushing yards. Minnesota ran an offense featuring the "Spear shift," named for the team's head coach Clarence Spears. The shift failed to gain against Michigan's line, leading the Chicago Daily Tribune to write:

"The famous Minnesota shift was a bloomer. The Gophers shifted and shifted and kept on shifting like a lot of hop toads and every time they shifted, the Michigan line shifted with them and knocked them flat as soon as the ball was snapped. To the Michigan team that shift was about as puzzling as a dog's bark."[44]

Michigan's starting lineup against Minnesota was Oosterbaan (left end), Tom Edwards (left tackle), Ray Baer (left guard), Robert J. Brown (center), John Lovette (right guard), Harry Hawkins (right tackle), Flora (right end), Friedman (quarterback), Gilbert (left halfback), Wally Weber (right halfback), and Molenda (fullback).[48] Players appearing in the game as substitutes for Michigan were George Babcock (left tackle), Norman Gabel (left guard), Syd Dewey (right guard), Charles Grube (right end), James Miller and Frederic Fuller (left halfback), Bruce Gregory (right halfback), and Carl Stamman (fullback).[44]

Post-season[edit]

Controversy over Big Ten Championship[edit]

At the end of the season, Michigan and Northwestern each had one loss to conference opponents. However, Northwestern also lost two non-conference games. When it was reported that Coach Yost had given gold footballs emblematic of championship to members of his team, a riot broke out involving 1,200 Northwestern students in Evanston, Illinois. An abandoned fraternity house was set on fire, and firemen who tried to extinguish the fire were thrown aside and their fire hoses were cut. A large bonfire was also built in the middle of Fountain Square. When the mayor of Evanston tried to calm the crowd, he was slugged, and the automobile of the police chief was overturned and damaged. One police officer was disarmed and "so badly mauled that two ribs were broken." Evanston police fired "tear bombs" into the crowd, and the mayor threatened to order police to "shoot and shoot to kill" if such a disorder was repeated.[49]

On the day after the riot, Northwestern's head coach and team captain sent a telegram to University of Michigan president C. C. Little disavowing any claim by Northwestern to the Big Ten football championship. They wrote: "In view of the remarkable showing that has been made by the 1925 football team of the University of Michigan, we believe that the University of Michigan is entitled to sole and undivided honors in the conference, and we wish you to know that Northwestern makes no claim for any share in them, but regards it as a privilege to be even for a few minutes placed in a class with the University of Michigan's team."[50] Following the announcement, Evanston police continued to guard Northwestern's football field to prevent the burning of the wooden stands. The forces dispatched to the stands included a car mounted with a machine gun.[51]

Individual honors[edit]

At the close of the 1925 season, football writers were divided over whether Benny Friedman or Northwestern's Tim Lowry should receive the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten Conference.[52] Lowry won the award with 23 points to 18 for Friedman.[53]

Friedman and Bennie Oosterbaan were both selected as consensus first-team All-Americans. Oosterbaan received the most first-team honors, including first-team selections by the United Press, Associated Press, Collier's Weekly, Athlete & Sportsman magazine, the All-America Board, and Knute Rockne.[54] The passing combination of Friedman and Oosterbaan, which became known as "The Benny-To-Bennie Show,"[55][56] is considered "one of the greatest passing combinations in college football history."[28][57][58][59] Both players were later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for their contributions as players at Michigan.[60][61]

Michigan team captain and center Robert J. Brown was selected as a first-team All-American by Athlete & Sportsman magazine (selections made based on the votes of 228 leading football coaches),[62] Billy Evans,[63] Norman E. Brown,[64] and Sam Willaman.[65]

Walter Eckersall called the 1925 Michigan team "by far the best team in the conference" and selected three Wolverines as first-team selections on his All-Big Ten team. They were Friedman, Bennie Oosterbaan, and Tom Edwards. Eckersall also selected Robert J. Brown, Harry Hawkins, and William Flora for second-team All-Big Ten honors and included Bo Molenda and John Lovette as third-team honorees.[66] On December 20, 1925, Eckersall announced his All-American selections. He picked Oosterbaan and Edwards as first-team All-Americans.[67]

Team honors and legacy[edit]

In national rankings for the 1925 season, Michigan was tied with Alabama for second place behind Dartmouth under the Dickinson System, a rating model developed by Frank G. Dickinson, an economics professor at the University of Illinois.[28]

Despite coaching six national championship teams at Michigan, Fielding H. Yost regarded the 1925 Michigan squad as the greatest team he ever coached.[68] At the annual awards dinner in 1925, Yost told the players, "You are members of the greatest football team I ever coached; in fact you are the greatest football team I ever saw in action. I am making this statement cognizant of the wonderful record of the 1901 team and the Point-A-Minute teams that followed."[1] Yost noted that Michigan had allowed only four first downs in the last three games of the season and added, "This is the most remarkable defensive record ever made in football."[69]

In 1931, Yost told Grantland Rice that he still considered the 1925 team to be better than his "Point-a-Minute" from the early 1900s:

"I still think the best team I ever coached was the 1925 bunch. They had everything. Those early teams had speed and power. But the game was simpler then. That 1925 bunch, which included Friedman and Oosterbaan, could run an end, buck a line, throw passes, kick, block, tackle, think, and do about everything needed on a football field to gain ground and keep other people from gaining ground. Don't forget about that 1925 team that our opponents had a hard time making first downs, much less winning the game."[70]

Even years later, at the time of his 66th birthday in 1937, Yost continued to wear a watch charm identifying the 1925 team as a championship eleven and continued to maintain that the 1925 team was his greatest eleven.[71]

Players[edit]

Varsity letter winners[edit]

  • R. George "Dick" Babcock, Royal Oak, Michigan - started 3 games at left tackle (Illinois, Navy, and Northwestern) and 2 games at right tackle (Michigan State and Wisconsin); also appeared as a substitute against Ohio State and Minnesota
  • Sam Babcock - appeared as a substitute at halfback against Indiana, Navy and Ohio State
  • Ray Baer, Louisville, Kentucky - started 1 game at left guard (Minnesota) and 1 game at right guard (Ohio State); appeared as a substitute at right guard against Navy
  • Robert J. Brown, Ypsilanti, Michigan - started 7 games at center (missing the Michigan State game due to a foot injury)
  • Richard Sidney "Syd" Dewey, Monroe, Michigan - started 2 games at right guard (Illinois and Navy); also appeared as a substitute at right guard against Minnesota
  • Tom Edwards, Central Lake, Michigan - started 2 games at right guard (Michigan State and Wisconsin), Wisconsin), 3 games at left tackle (Indiana, Ohio State, and Minnesota)
  • William R. Flora, Muskegon, Michigan - started all 8 games at right end
  • Benny Friedman, Cleveland, Ohio - started all 8 games at quarterback
  • Frederic W. Fuller, Grand Rapids, Michigan - started 1 game at left halfback (Michigan State); also appeared as a substitute against Navy and Minnesota
  • Norman Gabel, Detroit, Michigan - started 1 game at left tackle (Northwestern); also appeared as a substitute against Navy and Minnesota
  • Louis Gilbert, Kalamazoo, Michigan - started 7 games at left halfback (did not play against Northwestern)
  • Bruce Gregory, Ann Arbor, Michigan - started all 8 games at right halfback
  • Charles Grube, Saginaw, Michigan, Arthur Hill H.S. - started 1 game at left end (Michigan State); also appeared as a substitute against Navy, Ohio State, and Minnesota
  • Harry Hawkins, Saginaw, Michigan, Arthur Hill H.S. - started 5 games at right tackle (Illinois, Navy, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Minnesota), 2 games at left tackle (Michigan State, Wisconsin), and 1 game at right guard (Indiana)
  • William H. Herrnstein, Jr., Chillicothe, Ohio - started 1 game at left halfback (Northwestern); also appeared as a substitute against Navy and Ohio State
  • John H. Lovette, Saginaw, Michigan - started 7 games at left guard (Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Navy, Northwestern, Ohio State) and 1 games at right guard (Minnesota)
  • James F. Miller, Jr. - halfback; appeared as a substitute against Navy and Minnesota
  • John Molenda, Detroit, Michigan - started all 8 games at fullback
  • James Oade, Lansing, Michigan - started 1 game at right guard (Indiana); also played as a substitute against Navy
  • Bennie Oosterbaan, Muskegon, Michigan - started last 7 games at left end; played as a substitute against Michigan State
  • H. Frederick Parker - halfback
  • William "Bill" Puckelwartz[72] - quarterback; played as a substitute against Navy
  • Carl Stamman - fullback; played as a substitute against Indiana, Navy, Ohio State and Minnesota
  • Carl E. Thisted, Great Falls, Montana - started 1 game at center (Michigan State); also played as a substitute against Navy
  • Wally Weber, Mt. Clemens, Michigan - started 1 game at right halfback (Minnesota); also played as a substitute fullback against Navy

aMa letter winners[edit]

  • Victor E. Domhoff[73] Toledo, Ohio
  • Martin Garber
  • Henry S. Grinnell
  • LeRoy Heston[74]
  • Leo W. Hoffman
  • Kent C. McIntyre
  • Maxwell Nickerson
  • John M. Palmeroli
  • John B. Schoenfeld
  • Stanley Skidmore,[75] Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Dominic Sullo
  • Howard A. Webber

Scoring leaders[edit]

Player Touchdowns Extra points Field goals Safeties Points
Bennie Oosterbaan 8 0 0 0 48
Benny Friedman 3 22 2 0 46
Bo Molenda 6 0 0 0 36
Bruce Gregory 5 0 0 0 30
Louis Gilbert 3 2 0 0 20
William Flora 2 0 0 0 12
James Miller 1 1 0 0 7
George Babcock 1 0 0 0 6
Sam Babcock 1 0 0 0 6
William Herrnstein 1 0 0 0 6
Leo Hoffman 1 0 0 0 6
Frederic Fuller 0 1 0 0 1
Carl Stamman 0 1 0 0 1
na 0 0 0 1 2
Total 32 27 2 1 227

Awards and honors[edit]

Coaching staff[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Yost Calls 1925 Eleven Greatest: Does Not Even Except Wonderful Teams of 1901 and 1902; Rolled Up Grand 227 Point Total; Wolverine Mentor Says He's Proud to Have Coached Boys". The Hartford Courant. November 29, 1925. p. B2. 
  2. ^ a b "1924 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. 
  3. ^ "Little to Take Over Wisconsin Job Soon". Chicago Daily Tribune. January 23, 1925. p. 21. 
  4. ^ "Kipke Will Take Little's Post as Michigan Coach". Chicago Daily Tribune. February 9, 1925. p. 23. 
  5. ^ a b "1925 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "30,000 See Michigan Take Opener, 39–0: Friedman Stars as Wolverines Beat Michigan State Before Record Crowd". The New York Times. October 4, 1925. 
  7. ^ "Michigan vs Michigan St.". College Football Data Warehouse. 
  8. ^ The account of the game in the Chicago Daily Tribune stated that Friedman's touchdown run was for 50 yards.
  9. ^ a b c "YOSTMEN STRIKE THROUGH AIR TO NIP STATE, 39–0: EASY FOR MICHIGAN". Chicago Daily Tribune. October 4, 1925. p. A3. 
  10. ^ The account of the game in the Chicago Daily Tribune indicates that Babcock's touchdown came on a 40-yard interception return.
  11. ^ "Michigan vs Indiana". College Football Data Warehouse. 
  12. ^ "Michigan Tops Indiana". The Pittsburgh Press. October 11, 1925. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Michigan Crushes Indiana by 63–0: Wins Easily Behind Brilliant Work of Friedman, Who Is Star of Game". The New York Times. October 11, 1925. 
  14. ^ Walter Eckersall (October 12, 1925). "Grid Contests Prove Value of Individual Stars on Team". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 29. 
  15. ^ a b c d Irving Vaughan (October 18, 1925). "MICHIGAN RUNS UP 21–0 SCORE ON WISCONSIN: Two Touchdowns in First 5 Minutes". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A1. 
  16. ^ Will Perry (1974). The Wolverines: A Story of Michigan Football. The Strode Publishers. p. 112. 
  17. ^ "Michigan Eleven Leads in Big Ten: Decisive Victory Over Wisconsin Puts Yost's Team in Van – Chicago Has Great Defense". The New York Times (AP story). October 19, 1925. 
  18. ^ a b c "Michigan Subdues Wisconsin, 21 to 0: Score 2 Touchdowns in First Five Minutes – Friedman Runs 85 Yards After Kick-Off". The New York Times. October 18, 1925. 
  19. ^ a b c "Goal By Michigan Defeats Illinois: Friedman Kicks Lone Tally in Second Period in Stirring Football Battle; 67,000 See the Clash; 20,000 Are Turned Away From Stadium – Michigan Becomes Conference Favorite". The New York Times. October 25, 1925. 
  20. ^ a b c "Halting of Grange Pleases Michigan: New Stars Arise to Prove Yost's Eleven Is Not a One-Man Team". Ludington Daily News. October 16, 1925. 
  21. ^ "Yost Shifts Lineup". Chicago Daily Tribune. September 26, 1925. p. 11. 
  22. ^ Walter Eckersall (October 24, 1925). "67,000 TO SEE ILLINI BATTLE MICHIGAN; Grange's Skill Staked to Cut Yost's Defense; Wolverine Confident with Friedman". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 17. 
  23. ^ a b c d "MICHIGAN BEATS ILLINI, 3–0: FRIEDMAN KICKS FIELD GOAL AT END OF 1ST HALF; Intercepted Pass Leads to Score". Chicago Daily Tribune. October 25, 1925. p. 1. 
  24. ^ a b Perry, The Wolverines, p. 115.
  25. ^ "The Greatest Team". The Daily Telegram. October 29, 1975. 
  26. ^ "22 Who Started Illinois Game Finished It; Rare in Big Ten". The New York Times. October 26, 1925. 
  27. ^ "Michigan vs Navy (MD)". College Football Data Warehouse. 
  28. ^ a b c Dick Parker. "Friedman to Oosterbaan". LA84 Foundation. 
  29. ^ "Navy Yearly Results". College Football Data Warehouse. 
  30. ^ "Navy Gridders Handed Defeat: Friedman Kicks Five Goals After Touchdown – Subs Show Real Class". The Sunday Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio. November 1, 1925. p. C-1. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f Richards Vidmer (November 1, 1925). "Michigan Crushes Navy Eleven, 54–0: Yost's Great Wolverine Machine Rolls Relentlessly Over the Middies Eight Times; Excels in Every Phase; Powerful Line Blocks Navy While Friedman and Other Backs Execute Plays at Will". The New York Times. 
  32. ^ The game account published by the Chicago Daily Tribune credited Molenda with the third touchdown. The Associated Press account, and accounts in other papers, credited Molenda with the same touchdown.
  33. ^ Jack Hackleman (December 5, 1956). "1925 Version of Michigan Eleven Called Greatest Work of Pigskin Artist Yost". The Commerce Daily Journal. 
  34. ^ a b c James Crusinberry (November 1, 1925). "Michigan Sinks Navy Gridiron Craft, 54 to 0: Baffling Passes Rout Midshipmen; Near Point a Minute". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A1. 
  35. ^ James Crusinberry (November 3, 1925). "Brains Replace Beef on Winning Football Teams: Michigan Victory Proves Value of Wits". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 25. 
  36. ^ James Crusinberry (November 7, 1925). "Michigan Will Battle Purple in Seas of Mud: Baker Reported Out, but Likely to Get In". Chicago Daily Tribune. 
  37. ^ a b c "Michigan Beaten By Northwestern: Bows to Purple, 3 to 2, Before 20,000 in Game Played in Rainstorm at Chicago; Lewis's Kick Decides Issue; Field Goal Overcomes Safety Made Deliberately by Winners – Not One First Down". The New York Times. November 8, 1925. 
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i Walter Eckersall (November 8, 1925). "Northwestern Upsets Michigan, 3–2: Purple Brains and Lewis' Toe Sink Wolverines in Morass; Flash of Genius in Giving Foes Safety Saves the Day". Chicago Daily Tribune. 
  39. ^ Morrow Krum (November 8, 1925). "Lowry Expects 'Call,' but Gets Only Praise". Chicago Daily Tribune. 
  40. ^ Perry, The Wolverines, p. 117
  41. ^ "Yost Won't Play Again on Our Soldiers' Field". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 10, 1925. p. 28. 
  42. ^ a b c d e f Irving Vaughan (November 15, 1925). "Wolverines Trim Ohio by 10 to 0". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A1. 
  43. ^ a b "Michigan Defeats Ohio State, 10 to 0: Molenda Scores Touchdown and Friedman Gets Field Goal – Victors Fail on Passes". The New York Times. November 15, 1925. 
  44. ^ a b c d e f g James Crusinberry (November 22, 1925). "Michigan Ruins Gophers' Title Hopes, 35 to 0: Victory Gives Them Claim on Title". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A1. 
  45. ^ "Michigan Year by Year". College Football Data Warehouse. 
  46. ^ "Michigan Worried by Gophers' Attack: Wolverines Are Expected to Go Into Game Today on the Defensive". The New York Times. November 21, 1925. 
  47. ^ "3,000 Start for Ann Arbor". The New York Times. November 21, 1925. 
  48. ^ a b "Michigan Swamps Minnesota, 35 to 0: Driving Line Attack and Bewildering Aerial Bombardment Overpower Gophers". The New York Times. November 22, 1925. 
  49. ^ "Football Riot in Evanston: N.U. Students Fire a House; Clout Mayor; Collegians Howl at Michigan Claims". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 24, 1925. 
  50. ^ "N.U. Concedes Big Ten Title to Wolverines: Players and Officials Laud Michigan Record". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 25, 1925. p. 21. 
  51. ^ "Guard Athletic Field". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 25, 1925. p. 21. 
  52. ^ Harvey Woodruff (November 29, 1925). "Rivalry Keen for Football Player Trophy: Many Favor Lowry and Friedman". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A2. 
  53. ^ Harvey Woodruff (January 7, 1925). "Lowry Will Get Silver Football at Basket Game: Tribune Trophy Ceremony Set for Saturday". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 21. 
  54. ^ "All-America Roster". NCAA. Archived from the original on December 1, 2007. Retrieved January 14, 2008. 
  55. ^ Will Perry, The Wolverines, pp. 109-112 (Chapter 18 concerning the 1925 and 1926 seasons is titled "The Benny-To-Bennie Show.")
  56. ^ "What's a Michigan Man?". Maize and Blue Football Fans. January 5, 2011. 
  57. ^ Jordan Krumey (March 22, 2009). "Benny To Bennie: The Connection That Changed College Football". Bleacher Report. 
  58. ^ Murray Greenberg (2008). Passing Game: Benny Friedman and the Transformation of Football. Public Affairs. ISBN 9781586484774. 
  59. ^ "Benni Oosterbaan: Class of 1987". Muskegon Ara Sports Hall of Fame. 
  60. ^ "Benny Friedman". College Football Hall of Fame. 
  61. ^ "Bennie Oosterbaan". College Football Hall of Fame. 
  62. ^ "Coaches To Pick All Star Eleven: Jim Thorpe Canvasses Athletic Heads". Cedar Rapids Republican. December 4, 1925. 
  63. ^ Evans, Billy (December 5, 1925). "Here's Billy Evans' All-Americans". The Fitchburg Sentinel. 
  64. ^ Brown, Norman E. (December 7, 1925). "Here Are Brown's All-American Selections: All Sections of Country On Writer's All-American". Galveston County Daily News. 
  65. ^ "All-America Addendum". College Football Historical Society Newsletter. November 2008. Retrieved April 2012. 
  66. ^ Walter Eckersall (December 6, 1925). "Eckersall Picks Big 10 Honor Teams: Michigan Awarded Three Places on First-String; Grange Called Best Running Back in History". Chicago Daily Tribune. 
  67. ^ "Eckersall Names All-American Teams: Midwest Wins Five Places, East Four, and Pacific Coast Two". Chicago Daily Tribune. December 20, 1925. p. A1. 
  68. ^ "Yost Turned Out Powerful Grid Machines: 'Point-a-Minute' Teams Were Famed From 1901 to 1905". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 21, 1946. 
  69. ^ "Yost Calls Michigan 'My Greatest Eleven': Says It Has the Best Defensive Record in History and Deserves Conference Title". The New York Times. November 24, 1925. 
  70. ^ Grantland Rice (October 31, 1931). "The Sportlight". The Spokesman-Review (syndicated by North American Newspaper Alliance). 
  71. ^ "Yost Observes 66th Birthday in South Today". Chicago Daily Tribune. April 30, 1937. p. 25. 
  72. ^ William H. Puckelwartz, born February 4, 1905, died February 1976. Resident of Escanaba, Michigan.
  73. ^ Victor Ernsthausen Domhoff, born c. 1905, died December 21, 1947.
  74. ^ LeRoy Gray Heston, born 1903 in Grants Pass, Oregon, nephew of Willie Heston. Served in the Army Air Corps starting in 1929. Served as a pilot on contract with Col. C. L. Chennault to help train Chinese pilots in the 1930s. Served again with Army Air Corps during World War II. Biography titled, "The man who loved flying: Leroy Gray Heston, U.S.A.F.", by Edna May J. Hill. Died 1982.
  75. ^ Stanley Lavern Skidmore, died December 5, 1989.

External links[edit]