During the opening years of the 1920s, Michigan’s football team was like a growing boy whose parents were still fitting him in the clothes he’d worn when he was in kindergarten. Ferry Field was a glorious site, but even with the fire department looking the other way it could never squeeze in more than 48,000 fans. And while that was great for scalpers who got as much as $50 a ticket for Ohio State games – that’s $676 in today’s dollars, sports fans – it often left tens of thousands of fans stuck on the outside without even a transistor radio to sate their collective curiosity.
So after much haggling and fund raising, in 1926 ground was finally broken on a new field that was but about a 10-minute walk away from Ferry, which is now used for intramural sports. The first game in the new Michigan Stadium was played on October 1, 1927, with the Wolverines running up the score on little Ohio Wesleyan to the count of 33-0. Then after another pair of shutouts against Moo U. and Wisconsin, the formal dedication was to be held against – who else? – Ohio State.
Going into the game, the Buckeyes had a score to settle with the Wolverines, who had beaten them five straight years and had ruined the Crimson and White’s otherwise perfect 1926 season with a narrow one point win in Columbus. But after a scoreless opening quarter, the combination of Benny Oosterbaan and Louis Gilbert took over.
Oosterbaan was an All-American end and Gilbert held down the other flank, but beginning in the second quarter, Benny played Benny Friedman to Gilbert’s Oosterbaan, firing touchdown passes to Louie in each of the last three quarters. The Wolverines never managed to work up much of a ground attack, but those three scores held up quite nicely for an easy 21-0 whitewashing.
The Buckeyes would go on to finally snap the Michigan jinx when the teams returned to Columbus in 1928, but there can be but one dedication game per stadium, and in this one the Wolverines made the most of it.
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