In Fielding Yost’s first year as head coach of the Michigan football team, he did a few things — went undefeated with a 11-0 record, outscored his opponents, 550-0, and turned a fifth-place team around to become Rose Bowl and national champions for the first time ever.
Just to name a few.
The 1901 season for the Wolverines demonstrated a massive shift in success. That year, Yost spurred an intensity in the offense that equipped the Wolverines with the ability to remain undefeated for four seasons, notching 40 straight wins for four national titles in a row.
Those Michigan teams went down in history as famed “point-a-minute” programs, categorized for their lethal offenses that outscored opponents by a shattering 2,821 points to 42, with a combined 55-1-1 record from 1901 to 1904.
That offense was exemplified on Oct. 26, 1901, when Buffalo traveled to Regents Field in Ann Arbor for a matchup with the Wolverines. Typically two 30-minute halves, Buffalo’s head coach requested at the halfway point that the second half be reduced to 20 minutes — and the Wolverines still won, 128-0, tallying more points than it had the entire previous season.
While 22-touchdown games are few and far between, that margin of victory was familiar for Yost’s teams throughout their four-year national championship span.
On Oct. 8 of the 1902 season, the Wolverines trumped Michigan Agricultural College — now Michigan State — by a score of 119-0 at home. Five weeks later, they shut out Iowa with a triple-digit deficit as well, 107-0.
It wasn’t until the 1903 season that Michigan finally met a team it couldn’t shut out, in front of the largest crowd of the year. On Halloween of 1903, 20,000 people crammed into Northrop Field in Minneapolis for the inaugural battle for the Little Brown Jug between the Wolverines and Minnesota.
A late touchdown from right tackle Joe Maddock put Michigan on the board first, but a Golden Gopher fullback notched the equalizer with two minutes left in the game to keep it tied at 6-6. It was the first time during the Yost era that the Wolverines hadn’t won a football game outright.
Michigan won its fourth straight national championship in 1904, when the Wolverines finished the season with 10 wins and 7 shutouts. Though it didn’t shut out every opponent like it had the past three seasons — save the Little Brown Jug battle the year before — Michigan did finish the season with the most uneven score in program history.
With 4,000 spectators looking on at Regents Field, the Wolverines scored a record-breaking 22 touchdowns, with 20 extra points earned for a final score of 130-0 (with modern scoring rules, it would have been 152-0).
Tackle Joe Curtis contributed a team-high 49 points, scoring six touchdowns and 19 extra points. The performance led to a first team All-Western tackle selection, an honor he would also receive the next two years.
West Virginia’s 130-point loss defined the 1904 season, a year where the Wolverines averaged a point every 50.3 seconds. And it reflected the first four years of Yost’s coaching tenure, where the “point-a-minute” reputation held true — pushing Michigan’s program to its pinnacle four-year stretch of national championships and offensive excellence.