1948 Michigan State Spartans football team

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1948 Michigan State Spartans football
Conference Independent
AP No. 14
1948 record 6–2–2
Head coach Biggie Munn (2nd season)
Captain Robert B. McCurry
Home stadium Macklin Stadium
(Capacity: 51,000)
← 1947
1949 →

The 1948 Michigan State Spartans football team represented Michigan State College in the 1948 college football season. In their second season under head coach Biggie Munn, the Spartans compiled a 6–2–2 record and were ranked #14 in the final AP Poll.[1][2]

Two Spartans received second-team honors on the 1948 College Football All-America Team. Guard Don Mason received second-team honors from the Associated Press,[3] and end Warren Huey received second-team honors from the Football Writers Association of America.[4]

The 1948 Spartans sustained their two losses in annual rivalry games against Notre Dame (26-7) and national champion Michigan (13-7).[2] In intersectional play, the Spartans beat Hawaii (68-21), Arizona (61-7), Oregon State (46-21), and Washington State (40-0), but tied with Penn State (14-14) and Santa Clara (21-21).[2]


Date Opponent# Rank# Site Result Attendance
September 25 Michigan Macklin StadiumEast Lansing, MI (Rivalry) L 7–13   51,511
October 2 Hawaii Macklin Stadium • East Lansing, MI W 68–21    
October 9 at No. 1 Notre Dame Notre Dame StadiumSouth Bend, IN (Rivalry) L 7–26    
October 16 Arizona Macklin Stadium • East Lansing, MI W 61–7    
October 23 at No. 8 Penn State No. 19 New Beaver FieldUniversity Park, PA (Rivalry) T 14–14    
October 30 at Oregon State No. 17 Bell FieldCorvallis, OR W 46–21    
November 6 Marquette No. 17 Macklin Stadium • East Lansing, MI W 47–0    
November 13 at Iowa State No. 12 Clyde Williams FieldAmes, IA W 48–7    
November 20 Washington State No. 12 Macklin Stadium • East Lansing, MI W 40–0    
November 27 at Santa Clara No. 11 Kezar StadiumSan Francisco, CA T 21–21    
#Rankings from AP Poll.

Game summaries[edit]


Week 1: Michigan at Michigan State
1 234Total
Michigan 7 006 13
Michigan St. 0 070 7

Michigan State opened it 1948 season with a 13–7 loss to Michigan in East Lansing. The game was also the first to be played at Michigan State's new Macklin Stadium. Early in the opening quarter, fullback Don Peterson threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Dick Rifenburg. Peterson kicked the extra point, and Michigan's 7–0 lead held through halftime. Michigan State tied the game in the third quarter on a disputed play in which a pass from Lynn Chandnois was caught by both Hank Minarik and Wally Teninga. The official ruled that possession went to the offensive player as a touchdown. Peterson scored the winning touchdown for Michigan on a five-yard run in the fourth quarter, but failed to convert the extra point attempt. Late in the fourth quarter, Michigan State drove the ball to Michigan's two-yard line. With time running out, Teninga intercepted a Michigan State pass. Michigan's offense was held to 106 rushing yards and 117 passing yards in the game.[5][6]

A sluggish offensive performance and a narrow margin of victory over a team the Wolverines had beaten 55-0 in 1947 led some in the media to question Oosterbaan's selection as Michigan's new coach. The New York Times opined that Michigan's performance "lacked most of the precision which it had last year under H. O. Crisler."[5] H. G. Salsinger of The Detroit News wrote:

"Michigan's first game under Oosterbaan . . . was not impressive. They lacked the spark that distinguished them through the 1947 season. The offense was dull and poorly directed. . . . The critics who had judged Oosterbaan's football coaching skills on his record as a basketball coach considered their appraisal justified. The future looked dark for Michigan and Oosterbaan."[7]

Opinions of Oosterbaan changed as Michigan shut out ranked opponents in each of the next three games. The Spartans, under second-year head coach "Biggie" Munn proved to be stronger than expected, finishing the season ranked No. 14 in the final AP Poll.


  1. ^ "2016 Football Media Guide" (PDF). Michigan State University. pp. 146, 154. Retrieved June 16, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "1948 Michigan State Spartans Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved June 16, 2017. 
  3. ^ Ted Smits (1948-12-01). "Bear Guard on A.P.A.A. Eleven". Long Beach Press-Telegram. 
  4. ^ "FWAA All-America Since 1944" (PDF). Football Writers Association of America. 
  5. ^ a b Walter W. Ruch (September 26, 1948). "Michigan Overcomes Michigan State on Touchdown in Fourth Period: Wolverines Take Hard Battle, 13-7; Peterson's Touchdown in Last Quarter Topples Michigan State at East Lansing". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  6. ^ 1949 Michiganensian, p. 104.
  7. ^ H. G. Salsinger (October 27, 1948). "'Best Offense Mind in Football,' Crisler Tribute to Oosterbaan: Wolves Continue to Roll in Bennie's Bow as Boss; Fritz' Successor Marking 24th Year at Michigan as Player, Coach". The Sporting News.