Oct. 18, 1924: Galloping Ghost runs over Michigan
Though Memorial Stadium was opened last year, during Illinois' consensus national championship season, the stadium is formally dedicated at today's game. A crowd of 66,609 jams the stadium to watch Illinois play Michigan, unbeaten in 20 games.
Red Grange is surprised that the opening kickoff is directed to him. The Wolverines are more surprised when Grange avoids several tackles and breaks free for a 95-yard touchdown return. This is just the appetizer.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior is as elusive as a ghost to the Wolverine defenders, who have trouble touching him, much less tackling him. Some five minutes later, Grange scores on a 67-yard run. Then he makes two more remarkable touchdown dashes -- of 56 and 44 yards -- to give Illinois a 27-0 lead. All four touchdowns -- which cover 262 yards -- come in the first 12 minutes.
Grange then goes to the sideline for a breather, but he isn't finished. In the second half, he runs 11 yards for Illinois' fifth touchdown and then the versatile back passes 20 yards for its final score in a resounding 39-14 triumph.
Decades later, Grange recalled the contest: "I don't think I ever played in any other game where every man did exactly what he was supposed to do. ... I don't think any college team in the nation could have licked us that day. Maybe on the Friday before or the Sunday afterward they might have beat our brains in, but not on that one Saturday."
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