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A streak of fire, a breath of flame Eluding all who reach and clutch; A gray ghost thrown into the game That rival hands may never touch; A rubber bounding, blasting soul Whose destination is the goal — Red Grange of Illinois! -Grantland Rice, 1924

Red Grange, in his BLUE jersey, 1924.
Red Grange, in his BLUE jersey, 1924.
U of Illinois

That poem by Grantland Rice, made Red Grange famous. It's also the reason behind Illinois grey ghost jerseys this weekend.

The jerseys look terrible, but I'm always a fan of history getting incorporated into a program so I'm going to give Tim Beckman and Nike an A for effort. Also they made this awesome website of Red Grange history, game respect game.

Grantland Rice wrote his poem about Red in October of 1924 after he had scored five touchdowns in an upset against Michigan (including three TD's in the first seven minutes of the game!). Wearing these jerseys against Michigan would make a lot more sense, unfortunately the Wolverines aren't on Illinois schedule this year and this weekends contest is homecoming for Illinois. Naturally it got me thinking about how Red Grange did in his 1924 match-up against Minnesota?

Illinois were national champions in 1923 and appeared unbeatable, while the Gophers were having a disappointing season. Robert Zuppke, legendary Illinois head coach had never lost at Minnesota.

Minneapolis Journal headline November 16, 1924.

On a clear day in front of 40,000 Minnesota fans in Memorial Stadium Red Grange scored first, but Minnesota scored all of the rest, and limited Grange to negative yards on the day. The Grey Ghost had one of his worst games. Rushing 27 times for -3 yards, Grange also passed 3 times for 37 yards, returned two punts and recorded an interception.

Want to relive the 1924 game? Follow the Gophers to victory! via Minneapolis Journal

The Gray Ghost was ineffective against the Gophers partially because he refused to run up the middle, or cut back, taking all of his runs to the boundary. The quick and powerful defensive ends for Minnesota were able to bottle him up.

Ceremony for all Gophers who served in WWI, via U of M

While the November, 15th game wasn't the first game played at Memorial Stadium, this game against Illinois served as the dedication game, which honored 32,156 University of Minnesota students, alumni, and workers who had served in World War I.  The hero of the day was Minnesota runningback Clarence Schutte who scored all three of Minnesota's touchdowns.

"The Man Who Stopped Red Grange" Clarence Schutte via U of M

Dubbed the "wonder game of 1924" for the Gophers. By defeating Illinois, the Gophers got their only conference win of the season and ruined any title hopes for Illinois. Making things even worse for the Ilini the loss also meant that in-state rival UChicago won the Big Ten.

Final note. I'd like to think all of you know that Illinois didn't wear gray uniforms in 1924, but I'm attaching this final photo of number 77 just to show you that Illinois wore blue (pretend the photo isn't black and white).

The Gray Ghost in his BLUE jersey, 1924. viaIllinois