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Over the past 50 years, the University of Minnesota has not enjoyed much success against Nebraska in football. The Gophers had lost 16 straight to the Cornhuskers before Saturday's upset in Minneapolis.
The teams first met in 1900 in a game described by a wire reporter as “the best exhibition of football that has ever been seen in Lincoln.” Sid Hartman was not yet available to document the Gophers’ victory:
Nebraska Eleven Meets Defeat Before the Husky Minnesota Boys.
Best Exhibition of Football Ever Witnessed in That Section of Country.
By Wire From Lincoln, Neb., Nov. 30.
The husky Gopher eleven defeated Nebraska university at Lincoln yesterday after[noon] … It was the best exhibition of football that has ever been seen in Lincoln, and the Minnesota men found opponents worthy of their steel.
Fully 6,000 people assembled to witness the game, of which there were fully 800 Minnesota “rooters.” The good work they did cheering their team opened the eyes of the local men. The combined efforts of the followers of the two teams in the matter of noise resulted in something terrific.
GOPHERS FIRST ON FIELD.
|Dr. Henry Williams, Minnesota's legendary coach, led the Gophers to their first national championship in 1904.|
Minnesota was first on the field. It was just 2:15 o’clock when the heavy young men who have been under the care of Dr. Williams since early this fall ran onto the field. They were greeted by the shouts of 800 throats, and the “U” band struck up a lively tune in their honor.
They formed a circle and passed the ball around while the yells and music continued. The whistles of the machine shops added their share to the din, and noise was king.
Five minutes later the Nebraska team came on headed by their band. The followers of the home team tore the air with their shouts, and the band struck up a piece which was answered by the Gopher band. Coach Booth, of the Nebraska team, volunteered the information that the Gophers looked heavier and more rapid than the reports had led him to believe.
Minnesota, with her usual luck, won the toss and took advantage in choosing goals of the strong wind that was blowing from the south goal.
Within two minutes after Nebraska had kicked off it was evident that there was to be a battle founded on two different styles of play. Minnesota resorted to line bucking, with an occasional attempt at end, while the lighter Nebraska team played a more open game, giving a chance for more brilliant playing from a grand stand point of view.
KNOWLTON’S GOOD WORK.
The defense of Minnesota was a puzzle to the Cornhuskers. The tandem formations plunged through their somewhat lighter line at will, and the mass plays carried everything before them.
Knowlton in the first half, with the wind at his back, did some excellent punting that invariably resulted in a gain of from 10 to 20 yards. An occasional dash around Nebraska’s end broke the monotony of the heavy, close play that is effective, but not at all spectacular. When these end runs were tried they were nearly always good for a gain.
Minnesota was quick to recognize the advantage gained in Knowlton’s punts, and he was consequently called into service quite often. He clearly outplayed Cook, who kicked the oval for Nebraska.
He got in his goal from the field in the game yesterday. It was a beautiful placement from the 30-yard line, and more than made up for his poor luck in kicking the goals, all three of which he missed.
For the first two touchdowns the ball was forced within hailing distance of Nebraska’s goal by punting tactics, and then the husky Gophers pushed it over with comparative ease.
THE THIRD TOUCHDOWN.
The third touchdown was the result of a strong vigorous line bucking policy that forced Nebraska down the field for 70 yards. This was accomplished by the Gophers without once losing the ball.
Pillsbury made the first touchdown for Nebraska, but it is a question as to whether he would have ever reached the Gopher goal had not Doble collided with the officials. The run was a pretty one, however, 65 yards, with good interference. The officials admit that they were in Doble’s way, Referee Allen stating that it was their fault entirely, and there is, therefore, no discredit to Doble for failing to land his man, as he surely would have done had the way been clear.
Pillsbury was the man to make the second touchdown. This was made in the second half and he accomplished it by hurdling the Gopher line. Both goals were kicked by Nebraska, and this gave them their 12 points, which is more than any team has scored against Minnesota this season.
Van Valkenberg, Fee, La Fans, Tweet, Aune and Hoyt were the star ground gainers for Minnesota. There were called on early and often, and each time responded with a few more feet of Nebraska property to the credit of the Gophers.
Van was retired by a blow on the neck, which stunned him for some time, but he is not in serious condition.
Bender, who went in for Montgomery, succeeded in getting around Aune once for 20 yards, but he was downed at that distance.
CLOSE OF THE GAME.
The game ended with the score 20 to 12 in favor of the Gophers, and the Minnesota crowd gave vent to shouts and yells that will long be remembered in Mr. Bryan’s home city.
The team left at 8 o’clock last night, and the “rooters” about an hour after.
The result of the Iowa-Northwestern game has settled the question of the Western championship beyond a question, and 11 young men, students at the University of Minnesota, and incidentally the best aggregation of football players that has appeared on the Western gridiron for some time are “it.”
The long coveted title has been fairly and squarely won by the sheer hard work and clean, good football, and the team that will arrive in Minneapolis this morning are the undisputed champions of the West.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder drew some heat this week for getting married six days before a big game with Houston. Perhaps this century-old story from the Minneapolis Tribune can provide fans with some hope.
|Connie Mack in 1911|
Postscript: The Athletics managed to turn things around that year, finishing the regular season with a 101-50 record and beating the New York Giants 4 games to 2 in the World Series.
Minneapolis Millers fans were understandably disappointed to see their hot-hitting center fielder called up to the big leagues after less than a month. But who could blame the New York Giants? Willie Mays, just 19, had hit .607 in his first 14 games at Nicollet Park, and his fielding was equally spectacular. So off he went, making his Giants debut on May 25, 1951. Giants owner Horace Stoneham must have felt some heat from fans of his AAA farm club. He placed this ad in the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune a few days later, explaining to all of Minneapolis that the kid deserved a shot.
[A hearty AAA cap-tip to YN reader Michael Haas for this entry.]
The Tour de France showed great promise in its inaugural year, 1903. But things got a little crazy the next year. Competitors hitched rides aboard trains and drafted behind automobiles. "Peasants and villagers” living near the 1,500-mile course, perhaps inconvenienced by the event, showed their displeasure by scattering stones and nails on the road and firing pistols at the riders. There were, however, no reports of blood doping.This brief, by the way, is the only mention of the Tour de France in the Minneapolis Tribune in the race's first 20 years.
|Far from Paris, bicyclists raced past spectators lining a Lake City, Minn., street in about 1900. (Image courtesy of mnhs.org)
For University of Minnesota football fans, it looks like another tough weekend ahead. Minnesota is a 25-point underdog against Nebraska at TCF Bank Stadium Saturday. The Cornhuskers have won the past 10 meetings – by an average score of 49-6.
But the Gophers still hold a 29-20-2 series lead over the Cornhuskers, winning eight of the first 10 meetings, starting in 1900. One hundred years ago this week, the Gophers used bone-crushing blocks, a strong kicking game and a dazzling trick play to beat the men from Nebraska. The Minneapolis Tribune’s Fred R. Coburn captured all the Ski-U-Mah:
These lighthearted caricatures topped the Tribune's sports page the day after the Gophers beat Nebraska.
Gophers Excel in the Third
Quarter and Get Two
|Dr. Henry Williams, Minnesota's legendary coach, was apparently an expert on halftime adjustments.|
Minnesota's defense held the Cornhuskers, in striped jerseys, scoreless through three quarters at Northrop field. Apologies for the quality of the two game photos; they're lifted directly from Star Tribune microfilm.
As far as I can tell from the original text, Nebraska's stripe-shirted defenders held fast at their goal line on this play.