Football History The Galloping Ghost Red Grange's Big Day Part 1

About the history of the Illinois-Michigan game where Red Grange established himself as the Galloping Ghost.


Red Grange's Day of Days (1924)

On Oct. 18, 1924, Bob Zuppke sent his University of Illinois team out on the field to face the Michigan Wolverines. It was to be a memorable day for an Illinois junior named Harold "Red" Grange.

The game was billed as a conference championship match-up, because the two teams had tied for that championship the year before without playing each other. Prognosticators figured on a close game. But it was 7-0 after Grange returned the opening kickoff 95 yd., and things only got worse for Michigan as Grange went on to score on runs of 67,56, and 40yd. for a 27-0 Illinois lead at the end of the first quarter.

Michigan fought gamely but ended up losing 39-14. But more important, Grange's five TDs and 402 yd. established "the Galloping Ghost" as one of the game's all-time greats.

As I Saw It

(From The Red Grange Story by Red Grange with Ira Norton, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1953.)

"No sooner had school let out in June when Zup started to go to work on getting us keyed up for the impending contest. Throughout the summer vacation he sent a continuous flow of letters to me and the rest of the team about how Michigan expected to romp over us. By the time we returned to the campus for the fall semester we were all so mad that beating the Yostmen from Ann Arbor became the most important issue in our lives.

"The Michigan contest was the occasion of the dedication of the University of Illinois' mammoth Memorial Stadium. Over 67,000 fans were on hand and it was estimated 20,000 more were unable to get in. It was the largest crowd ever assembled in the Midwest for a football game.

"Steger of Michigan kicked off deep, and I caught the ball on the fly in front of the goal posts on our five-yard line. Running straight down center, I cut wide to the right to avoid a host of tacklers at about the thirty-yard line. From the extreme west side I cut back across the field and headed up the east sidelines, crossing the goal line just a fraction of a second after Wolverine quarterback Tod Rockwell made a frantic dive to get me. Earl Britton kicked the extra point and we led 7-0.

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