And while the economy was to take a nose dive for the next four years, the Boilermakers entered the greatest stretch of gridiron success they ever were to know, racking up a 36-4-2 record that included two Big Ten titles and two undefeated seasons. No longer were they to be playing second or third fiddle to the likes of Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota.
Led by All-American lineman Elmer “Red” Sleight, and a powerful backfield collectively known as “The Four Riveters”, coach Jimmy Phelan’s 1929 eleven approached the Columbus Day Michigan game in somewhat of a slump against the Wolverines in recent years. In fact, the last time the Boilermakers had handled the mighty men of Michigan was back in 1892!
So you might say that there was a bit of revenge in the West Lafayette air.
After three quarters of play, it looked to be business as usual for the Wolverines as they raced out to a 16-6 lead and looked to extend their mastery over the Boilermakers to 37 years. But a “Red” Sleight touchdown off a blocked punt aroused the home team out of its slumber, and before it was all over, the Boilermakers had tallied four fourth-quarter touchdowns en route to a most convincing 30-16 win.
Once Michigan was out of the way, the rest of the season was a breeze. Winning their last six games by a combined score of 131-14, the Boilermakers finished with a perfect 8-0 record, and only Notre Dame’s remarkable perfect season played entirely on the road prevented the West Lafayette men from copping the national championship.
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