At every Michigan football game, the announcer tells fans that they are part of the largest crowd watching a college football game in the country.

Angela Cesere
A man holds up a sign at the 2003 Michigan-Ohio State game, which had the highest attendance of any game in college football history. Michigan won 35-21. Since then, Michigan has lost three straight times. (FILE PHOTO BY TONY DING/Daily)

And on Nov. 22, 2003, fans were part of the largest crowd in the history of not just the Big House but of college football history.

A record 112,118 people filled the stadium to watch the game, the 100th meeting between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Michigan beat Ohio State 35-21, ending its run at the National Championship.

The game secured a Big Ten Championship for Michigan and sent the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl.

It also put a stop to the Buckeyes’ two-game win streak against Michigan.

Since that game, Michigan has lost three straight to the Buckeyes

Individual performances by running back Chris Perry and quarterback John Navarre helped secure a Wolverine victory. Perry led the team with two touchdowns and seven catches for 130 yards.

In that game, Navarre tied the record for career touchdown passes formerly held by Elvis Grbac. It was broken by Chad Henne two weeks ago against Northwestern.

The energy at the game was clearly contagious. After the game ended, thousands of fans stormed the field in excitement.

They “gave high-fives to players, posed for TV cameras and hugged each other on the Michigan ‘M’ at midfield,” The Michigan Daily reported at the time.

One might wonder how the game had such a large attendance when the actual capacity of the Big House is 107,501 people – almost 5,000 fewer than went through the turnstiles on Nov. 22, 2003.

In fact, most games – the game against Eastern Michigan last week was an exception – have official attendances of more than that number because the total turnstile count includes everyone who enters the stadium, not just ticketed fans.

That total includes both teams, coaching staff, marching bands, ushers, vendors, cameramen, police officers and other officials.

That guy wearing the red hat who stands on the field during endless television timeouts? He counts too.

The 2003 game was so pivotal that it filled every seat in the stadium. The extra press and staff on hand for the decisive game likely helped tip the balance.

Want to see the record broken again? Go to the Michigan-Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium on Nov. 17 and you might have a chance.

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