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Gophers vs Northwestern In 1905 #TBT

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You’ll never be able to guess why I picked this game to talk about this week.

Percy Brush (whilst still playing for Macalester)
Macalester College

The 2019 Gopher season has been so fun for me because of the consistent talking point of, ‘Minnesota hasn’t (fill in the blank) since (long time ago)’. Obviously that stuff is right up my alley. What you’ll probably hear a lot of this weekend (if you haven’t already) is that a win against Northwestern will register 10 regular season wins, for the first time since 1905. The cool thing about 1905, the Gophers beat Northwestern for it’s tenth win that year too. Oh and the 1905 match up is the largest Gopher blowout of the Wildcats in the 94 games the two teams have played each other.

Mpls Tribune November 26, 1905

From the Mpls Tribune November 26, 1905 by Frank E. Force

It was all smash, smash, smash from beginning to end and after nearly every down one or more Northwestern players were forced to take out time because of their injuries

I won’t go blow by blow but the final score of the game was 72 - 6. In 1905 scoring was different (five points for a TD, four for a field goal). Of the 13 touchdowns scored on the day five were by Minnesota’s Right Tackle Percy Brush.

Chart of play for the 1905 Gophers vs Wildcats game.

The game ended 10 minutes early at Northwestern’s request. The only complaint from the game was the small crowd (estimated attendance of 3,000-4,000).

Northwestern coach Allen told newspapers he thought that Minnesota was considerably better than conference champion University of Chicago. The Gophers didn’t play Chicago that season.

How awesome is this post game celebration? (from the same article as above)

After the game the Minnesota players and rooters carried straw to the middle of the gridiron and after having set it afire danced about and yelled with glee. The players were able to break training and they pranced about as they pleased, finally returning to the armory to prepare for the last training table meal for the year of 1905.

After the 1905 season big changes came to the Gophers (and all of college football) thanks to new rules (and some common sense).

  • The common sense one was that no longer was the University scheduling games against High Schools.
  • The Western Conference (predecessor to the Big Ten) prevented any team from scheduling more than five games.
  • Citing increasing violence in the game President Theodore Roosevelt asked Minnesota and Wisconsin to take a year off from playing each other in 1906.
  • Also one of Minnesota’s best players Percy Brush, was ruled ineligible for 1906. New eligibility rules were put in place and Percy had played at Macalester for four years before enrolling at the University of Minnesota.

So in many ways 1905 was the last good college football season, and it ended with a spectacular beat down of Northwestern.