The University of Michigan likes to think of itself as the Harvard or Yale of the Midwest, old and dignified and ivied. On the other hand, Michigan regards its in-state neighbor, Michigan State, as a shaggy country cousin, oafish and ill-mannered. When the two schools play football, as they did last Saturday at Ann Arbor, the Michigan rooters occasionally express their contempt for the Staters by shouting "moo" across the field, the ultimate insult to a school that until recently was just a small agricultural college in the cow pastures of East Lansing.
It is only natural, therefore, that State knows no more satisfying pleasure than to knock the brains out of its uppity neighbors. With its handsome modern campus spread over some of the loveliest rolling farmland in central Michigan, State sees no reason to feel inferior to the city-bound university, with its hodgepodge of architectural eyesores encompassing every stage of collegiate design from Victorian wedding cake to neo-gothic and campus colonial.
So there is a well-honed edge to this rivalry, which began in 1898 when established Michigan condescended to play State. Michigan won that first game 39-0 and, four years later, almost pushed State right out of Michigan, winning 119-0. State won for the first time in 1913, 12-7, but Michigan dominated the series until 1950, winning 33 of the games and losing only six. Since 1950, however, State has won eight games to Michigan's two, a fact which Michigan finds difficult to digest.
Both teams started this season with a pair of impressive wins, Michigan beating UCLA and Army, State beating Wisconsin and Stanford. The game was rated about even, therefore, with Michigan thought to have the better first string. State the stronger reserves. "We have 12 good football players," said Michigan's slight, smiling coach, Bump Elliott, before the game. "Michigan State has 24."
October 22, 1961
"That's nonsense," replied State's Duffy Daugherty when the quote was relayed to him. "They used 58 players in their first two games. The way they talk, if we win it's because we have better players, but if they win it's because they are better coached." Daugherty, who usually conceals himself behind a guise of relaxed Irish affability, was obviously not playing the game for laughs.
Nor were his players, as it turned out. State kicked off and on the second play of the game recovered a Michigan fumble on the 31-yard line. Using solid, uncomplicated running plays, State drove for a touchdown to lead 7-0. Of the 31 yards, 25 were gained by a huge sophomore named Herman Johnson. At six feet four and 213 pounds, Johnson belongs to a new breed of college football player—a man tall enough to play basketball, fast enough to make the track team and rugged enough for football.
State scored again the next time it got the ball, moving 76 yards in seven plays, most of it on a 46-yard pass play from Quarterback Pete Smith to his left end, Matt Snorton. It was still only the first period, and State led 14-0.
Michigan made a move to catch up early in the second period when it recovered a fumble on the State 37-yard line. A pass got the ball to the 23 from where Bennie McRae, the end man on a beautiful double reverse, raced through the State team to score. But on the play Michigan had been guilty of back field in motion, and the touchdown was disallowed.
The rest of the game was downhill, except for a brief Michigan flurry in the third quarter that ended with four futile line plunges inside State's five-yard line. State scored two more touchdowns, one just as the second period ended, one in the fourth quarter, to win the game with ease 28-0. The Michigan portion of the huge crowd—103, 198—sat through the second half in silence. When the game ended, not a single "moo" could be heard.