Harold "Red" Grange - Fateful Michigan Game
Fateful Michigan Game
On October 18, 1924, Illinois faced the powerhouse University of Michigan Wolverines in a game that followed a dedication ceremony for Illinois' new Memorial Stadium. The Wolverines had not suffered a defeat in two years. Michigan athletic director and former coach Fielding Yost assured the press before the game that his team could handle Grange. "Mr. Grange will be carefully watched every time he takes the ball," Yost stated. "There will be eleven clean, hard Michigan tacklers headed for him."
Whether headed for Grange or not, the Michigan tacklers could not catch him. Grange scored four touch-downs—a 95-yard kickoff return and runs of sixty-seven, fifty-six and forty-five yards from scrimmage—all within the first twelve minutes of the game. Exhausted, he then sat out until the third quarter, during which he scored on a twelve-yard run. Grange followed his five touchdowns with a 23-yard touchdown pass. Illinois beat the Wolverines 39-14 and Grange's name was entered into the annals of football history where it remains to this day. The game also earned him the nickname "The Galloping Ghost of the Gridiron," bestowed upon him by sportswriter Grantland Rice.
A subsequent game against the University of Chicago, a team considered one of the nation's best, had the University of Illinois Illini down 21-0. Grange brought the team from behind by scoring three touchdowns in the game, which ended in a tie. He played for the entire sixty minutes, rushing for 300 yards and passing for 177. Grange was then injured during a game against Minnesota, which Illinois lost. He missed the season's final game, a victory over Ohio State, but was again named an All-American.
As his accomplishments on the field mounted, Grange rose to national stardom. Many factors contributed to his extreme popularity, including an increased interest in athletics developed during World War I, when members of the military often engaged in league sports themselves; a growing interest in leisure-time activities and the growth of the middle class, with their disposable incomes, following the war; and the increased use of newspaper wire services, which enabled local events to be publicized nationally.
- Harold "Red" Grange - Chronology
- Harold "Red" Grange - Coaxed To The Gridiron
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