November 6, 1909 - ND's first win against Michigan

Notre Dame and Michigan's football history goes back to the first game Notre Dame played in 1887. Between 1887 and 1908, the two teams met eight times with Michigan winning every game by an average score of 15-2. In 1909, Notre Dame would travel to Ann Arbor against Fielding Yost. The coach on the Notre Dame sidelines was a Michigan alumnus, Frank Longman, in his first year as coach at Notre Dame. This game was still the match up of teacher versus pupil and Midwest power versus Midwest start up.

In the first half in front of 6,000 fans, Notre Dame would have a field goal blocked and then saw Michigan kick one of their own to lead 3-0. The Catholics notched the go ahead score with under ten minutes left but missed the extra point and had a 5-3 halftime lead. The game was still played by halves and not quarters yet, so Notre Dame would need to hold on for 35 minutes if they wanted to pull out a victory. When Michigan came out in the second half, Yost's strategy was to punt for better field position. At times they would punt on first down without running an offensive play and hoped for a Notre Dame miscue. It generally worked as Michigan got closer and closer to the goal line. Attempting a field goal Michigan lined up for the potential winning score, but the kick was blocked by Notre Dame. After a series of Michigan miscues, Notre Dame would get a second touchdown with just under a minute remaining and the extra point was good. Notre Dame would get their first win against Michigan by a score of 11-3. In 1910 Notre Dame would travel up to Ann Arbor again but Michigan would cancel the game and the two teams would not meet again until 1942.

            1 2     
Notre Dame  5 6 - 11
Michigan    3 0 -  3

One story puts the origin of the moniker "Fighting Irish" back to a game against Northwestern in 1899. A different story has its roots during this game. Notre Dame was behind and a player yelled to his teammates named Dolan, Kelly, Glynn, Duffy, and Ryan:

"What's the matter with you guys? You're all Irish and you're not fighting worth a lick."

The press got wind of the remark and ran with it the following day:

"Eleven Fighting Irishman wrecked the Yost machine this afternoon. Three sons of Erin, individually and collectively representing the University of Notre Dame, not only beat the Michigan team, but dashed some of Michigan's greatest hopes and shattered Michigan's fairest dreams." - Detroit Free Press, November 7, 1909

The true origins of Fighting Irish is not quite known as the term had surrounded the team for years, but it would be officially adopted in 1927 president Fr. Walsh.

To learn more about the history of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry, check out Natural Enemies: Major College Football's Oldest, Fiercest Rivalry - Michigan vs. Notre Dame.

Keywords: football, michigan, fielding yost, frank longman, fighting irish, catholics, father matthew walsh

Posted On: 2011-11-06 03:15:00 by IrishTrpt07


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