Minnesota and Northwestern first played each other in 1892 when Minnesota winning 18-12 (a rematch in Evanston was held the next year in 1893 with the Gophers winning again 16-0). A five year gap came between the Wildcat vs Gophers 3rd matchup in 1898.
Jack Minds only season coaching the Gophers came in 1898. It wasn’t a great season for the Gophers who battled bad weather, and injuries all year. But the Northwestern victory was the highpoint, the only Western Conference victory, and a step in the right direction towards the 1900 undefeated season.
Thankfully Northwestern was 1 of only 2 teams that were worse than Minnesota in 1898. Unfortunately for the Wildcats their 1897 star QB Joe Hunter enlisted in the Spanish American War and missed the entire season.
Newspaper coverage of college football took off nationally in the 1890s. In 1898 the Minnesota Daily was still two years ago from existing. The student newspaper, The Ariel, ran this synopsis of this game on November 18, 1898. Written by an uncredited student (who would have been helped by an editor to at least break up some of these dang paragraphs) this article has some great insight into the fans and the game from 119 years ago.
A WELL EARNED VICTORY
MINNESOTA, 17; NORTHWESTERN, 6.
A happier lot of college students than those who thronged out from Old Athletic Park on Saturday last, after witnessing one of the best games ever seen on those grounds, it would have been hard to find anywhere in the United States. And they had good reason to be joyful. Minnesota’s football team, which has gone down to defeat in three games this year, won the game from Northwestern in a manner which showed that they were made of the right kind of stuff. Cheered on by the biggest crowd that has yet witnessed a game on the home grounds this season, and undaunted by previous defeat, they went into the game with the spirit of ‘94 and ‘95, played their hardest and best from start to finish, and won such a decided victory that there can be no doubt as to which was the superior team
Their support was worthy of their splendid effort. The leaders of the cheering appointed at the mass meeting the day before did their duty and the hundreds of supporters of the maroon and gold responded with a vim that made every street in Minneapolis echo with the Ski-U-Mahs of victory. The great wave of enthusiasm started in motion by President Northrop in his address at the mass meeting seemed to have caught players and rooters in its irresistible swing and carried everything, including Northwestern, before it.
It has been said that there were no stars on the eleven on Saturday. This is not correct. Every man was a star, but instead of individual shining they all shone together-they formed a constellation. To come down to earth, where the game was played,-there was such team work as the team has not shown in any game this year, and this was what won the day. But while the team worked like a clock, some parts of the clock were especially in evidence. Parry was simply invincible-a tornado that tore through Northwestern’s line almost at will. And Cameron has won lastime fame with rooters; his long runs and plucky and heady work throughout won him the merited applause of the spectators. Scandretty captained the team and played the game as only a tried gridiron veteran could do it. Shepley, when he carried the ball over for a touchdown, together with a hapless Northwesterener who had tackled him, gave a sample of the good work he did in line-bucking, and his punting was good. But, as has been said, it was not individual work that won-it was the team.
Northwestern played a hard game. On several occasions she made some beautiful stops when the Minnesota rushes had pushed the ball almost to the goal. The runs made by halfback Johnson, who handled most of Shepley’s punts, were not far short of the phenomenal, and it cannot be denied that the work of her ends was, on the whole superior to ours. With two or three exceptions, they were down the field with the ball and downed Shepley or Kienholz almost in their tracks, or with very small gains. As to being weakened by loss of men, the teams were on a par. Captain Perry and Throne of Northwestern were missing, and Captain Cole, Anderson, and Gray were out of the Minnesota team, so that a just comparison of the two teams, based on their work in Saturday’s game, cannot fail to award the palm of superiority to Minnesota.
The victory was a necessity for the future of Minnesota football it was just what we needed to keep the flame of Enthusiasm burning brightly, and it ensures a successful ending of the season this year, and a bright prospect for next years’ work.