Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1959


The first installment of this year’s series looking at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us back to 1959. As a general rule, the late ’50s were known as a booming period. The economy was booming, home purchases and migration to the suburbs were both booming, and finally, there was the baby boom. Things were looking good for many Americans, which often meant more leisure time.

In the fall, much of that leisure time was devoted to American football, which was growing rapidly at both the professional and collegiate levels. Unfortunately for Michigan fans and alums, the 1959 state had not been kind to the maize and blue. But the beauty of finishing the regular season with “The Game” is that there is always a chance for redemption. 

It’s worth noting that this series has a long history of first-year coaches winning their first game, and this proved to be true for Michigan’s Bump Elliott, as well. Three interceptions by an opportunistic Michigan defense prevented Ohio State from doing too much damage, but in second half, they still only trailed by six points.

Kicker Darrell Harper never achieved the fame of Phillip Brabbs, but his 19-yard field goal early in the final quarter gave the Wolverines all the cushion they needed, as they topped the Buckeyes, 23-14 in Bump’s first season as head coach. There was some controversy involved, as Ohio State recovered a Michigan fumble and returned the ball for what Ohio State thought was a touchdown, but the referees ruled the ball had been declared dead, awarding the ball to Ohio State, but nullifying the return. 

The video below is hard to follow, but it does provide some “feel” for the game. Thanks to youtube poster polaarbear for the video. As always, we own nothing, and do not profit from this blogpost or the use of the video. This content is strictly for the enjoyment of readers. 

About Jeff Cummins

Jeff Cummins has written about football since 1998, including nine years with The Record of Hackensack, N.J. He frequently contributes feature stories to Touchdown Illustrated, an insert in the national college football game program, published by University Sports Publications, and he has also written the official pregame stories for the game programs of the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Gator Bowl, and the BCS National Championship game. He has written the preview story for the official program for the NHL Winter Classic at MIchigan Stadium, and numerous college basketball feature stories for College Hoops Illustrated, another game program insert published by University Sports Publications. In addition, he has written stories about theater, music, physical therapy, and newsletter marketing. He’s an avid Michigan football fan and long-time New York Jets season ticket holder, and he can be reached at jeffcummins@optonline.net.