All-Time Michigan: 1947 Wolverines


Michigan vs. Ohio State: As No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan prepare to square off in a battle of unbeatens, we started wondering which school has the best team in the history of a rivalry that SportsNation voters ranked as the best in college football. ESPN.com senior college football writer Ivan Maisel narrowed the field to four teams from each school, but the rest is up to you. All this week, leading up to Saturday's game, your votes will determine which team is the best from each school, and ultimately, which team is the best in the history of the rivalry.

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No. 1 Seed: 1947 Michigan Wolverines

Coached by the legendary Fritz Crisler and known as the "Mad Magicians," the 1947 Michigan Wolverines earned the school's first national championship since 1933 by beating Southern Cal 49-0 in the Rose Bowl.

The season served as a fitting farewell for both Crisler, who departed after the Rose Bowl win with a 71-16-3 record in 10 seasons, and Bob Chappuis, who finished second in Heisman Trophy voting behind Notre Dame's John Lujack. Chappuis began his career at Michigan in 1942, but he spent the next three years fighting in World War II, serving as an aerial gunner and escaping capture after being shot down over Italy. A dual-threat on offense, Chappuis rushed for 419 yards and five touchdowns and passed for 13 more touchdowns in 1947.

Four players were named to the All-Big Ten Team: Chappuis, Bob Mann, Howard Yerges and Chalmers Elliott. Chappuis and Elliott were also All-Americans.

The Wolverines rolled through their schedule, allowing just 20 points in their final six games, including both of the season's wins against ranked teams. The five shutouts remained tied for the most by any team since 1939. Not that they needed to blank opponents to win. Behind Chappuis, the offense scored 40 or more points in seven of 10 games and averaged 420 yards per game. The team's 1,788 passing yards was a record that would stand until 1979.