What’s Thanksgiving without a football game? Football games played on Thanksgiving Day date back to 1876, when Yale and Princeton began an annual tradition of playing each other. The University of Michigan also made it a tradition to play annual Thanksgiving games, participating in 19 such games from 1885 to 1905. The Thanksgiving Day games between Michigan and Amos Alonzo Stagg’s University of Chicago Maroons in the 1890s have been cited as the true beginning of Thanksgiving Day football.
Before the final game of the 1898 season, Chicago was 9-1-1 and Michigan was 9-0; so the game between the two teams in the Windy City would decide the third Western Conference championship . Michigan won, 12-11, on November 24, 1898, capturing the program’s first conference championship in a game that inspired student Louis Elbel to compose Michigan’s fight song, “The Victors.”
Hail, hail to Thanksgiving Day.