Michigan vs Northwestern: The history of the series
Michigan heads to Evanston, Illinois on Saturday to take on Northwestern for the 75th time. While the match up hasn’t happened as many times as the series with OSU, Minnesota or Illinois have, it is one of the oldest. In that first meeting in 1892, it was actually a conference game………..but NOT a B1G Conference game.
Something shocking I discovered almost 3 years ago was that Michigan Football was once in a conference not named the B1G/Big Ten/Western Conference. In 1892, a four team league was founded that consisted of Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin. It was known as the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the Northwest or the Northwest Intercollegiate Athletic Association depending on what documents you go by. For the sake of this article, we’ll refer to it as the IAANW.
Not much is obviously known about this league other than that, there are records of the league in the Chicago Tribune documenting that Minnesota defeated Wisconsin in 1892 to win the “Northwest League’s” championship.
Minnesota won both IAANW crowns in 1892 and 1893 with Michigan finishing third both seasons in the league, compiling a 1-2 record in each campaign. The league folded after the 1893 season due to financial problems. Three seasons later the four IAANW teams along with Chicago, Illinois and Purdue formed what later became to be known as the Big Ten Conference.
While Northwestern won the first meeting in 1892 (10-8 in Chicago at 25th Street Field), Michigan won the following year in a 72-6 shellacking at the hallowed Regents Field in Ann Arbor. Consistent meetings between the two teams after that became scarce. Keep in mind that there weren’t many road games in 19th century and turn of the 20th century football because travel was all done by train and Michigan-Illinois was an annual Western Conference showdown.
After those first two IAANW Conference games in 1892 & ’93, the two didn’t meet for in consecutive years again until 1924-1925. Beginning in 1932, the Wolverines and Wildcats practically clashed on a yearly basis for decades with the longest interruption in the series being two seasons. That will change dramatically ever since the number of annual rotating B1G West Division games is just two (Wisconsin is a protected crossover game through 2020). Barring a meeting in future B1G Championship Games, Michigan and Northwestern are scheduled to meet just twice beyond 2018: Ann Arbor in 2021 and Evanston in 2024.
Michigan leads the all-time series by a mile, 57-15-2. The Wolverines have won the last 5 meetings overall, the last 6 meetings in Evanston on the road and are 1-0 against the Wildcats under Coach Harbaugh, winning 38-0 in 2015. Here is the series breakdown-
All-Time Record: 57-15-2
Ann Arbor Record: 35-6-2
- Ferry Field (I): 2-0-0
- Ferry Field (II): 2-0-0
- Michigan Stadium: 31-6-2
Evanston Record: 22-7-0
- Sheppard Field: 1-0-0
- Northwestern Field: 0-1-0
- Ryan Field: 21-6-0
Neutral Site Record: 0-2-0
Longest Winning Streak: 19 (1966-1992)
Largest Margin of Victory: 69 (W 69-0 in 1975)
Most Points Scored: 69 (W 69-0 in 1975)
Longest Losing Streak: 3 (1934-1937)
Largest Margin of Defeat: 31 (L 24-55 in 1958)
Most Points Allowed: 54 (L 51-54 in 2000)
AP Top-5 Games: 1-0-0 (Most Recent: 1948, W 28-0)
AP Top-10 Games: 3-0-1 (Most Recent: 1948, W 28-0)
AP Top-15 Games: 3-0-1 (Most Recent: 1948, W 28-0)
AP Top-20 Games: 5-1-1 (Most Recent: 2015, W 38-0)
AP Top-25 Games: 5-4-1 (Most Recent: 2015, W 38-0)
As an AP Ranked Team vs Unranked Opponent: 27-1-1 (Most Recent: 2011, W 42-24)
As an Unranked Team vs an AP Ranked Opponent: 0-2-0 (Most Recent: 1959, L 7-20)
Unranked Meetings: 18-4-0 (Most Recent: 2014, W 10-9)
Pre-AP Poll Era Games: 7-4-0
The AP Poll began in 1936
The complete series history-
Statistics from the Michigan SuperGuide (@UMichSuperGuide)