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SUGAR BOWL MATCHUP
Michigan Wolverines vs Virginia Tech Hokies
Jan. 3, 2012 | 8:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Stadium Guide: Sugar Bowl
Year Opened: 1927 | Field Surface: Artificial Turf
There was the first-ever Wolverines football game, played on May 12, 1883, that pitted Michigan against the Detroit Independents team in Ann Arbor at the Fairgrounds. There were the "big games" played at the Detroit Athletic Club. There was Regents Field and Ferry Field. But there may be nothing like The Big House in all of college football.
In the early 1920s then head coach, Fielding Yost, had a vision that would eventually become the reality of the Michigan Stadium that stands today. With the Wolverines having outgrown their former playing fields, Yost was in search of an epic, new stadium, one that would seat from 100,000 to 150,000 fans. Finally, in April 1926, the university regents approved the construction of a 72,000 seat stadium. As completion neared, however, the persistence of Yost continued his pleas for greater capacity and asked for 10,000 additional seats. The construction resembled the Yale Bowl and, when all was said and done, the stadium's capacity was listed at 84,401.
Michigan Stadium opened Oct. 1, 1927, to between 30,000 and 40,000 fans who witnessed a 33-0 Wolverines victory over an Ohio Wesleyan team that was the defending champion of the Ohio Conference. The tradition and mystique of The Big House would begin in earnest just a few weeks later, when Ohio State rolled into town. Five years earlier the Wolverines had ruined Ohio State's dedication game at their new Ohio Stadium, and the Buckeyes were looking to exact revenge in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines laid those hopes to rest early in the game and defeated the Buckeyes 19-0.
The stadium has grown to seat nearly 110,000 people, creating a veritable sea of maize and blue.
During the 2010 season, the Wolverines faithful set not only a school record but an NCAA regular-season record of attendance with 113,090 against Connecticut.
The infamously noticeable "winged" designed atop the Wolverines' head gear has been standard since 1938, after then head coach Herbert O. "Fritz" Crisler had been lured away from Princeton and charged with beginning a new era in Michigan football. In those days it wasn't unusual for a receiver to wear a different colored helmet than the rest of his offensive teammates; Crisler believed that was just as much an advantage to the defense as it was the offense. He scrubbed the headgear and created the "winged" design for all that has made its way from stitched cowhide to the helmets the university's players sport today.
Fritz Crisler fits into another legend that is entangled within the seats and beams and halls of Michigan Stadium. Take a look at any official stadium capacity that has been released by the university since 1956; the attendance tally always ends with the numeral 1, which has indicated an extra seat, if you will, since then. That single digit designates Fritz Crisler's seat. A mystery among those in attendance, the seat has never officially been found.
Source: University of Michigan
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