Bucknell Prepares for Their First Trip to Michigan in Over 80 Years

Pull out your Fats Waller records and party like it’s 1935! Bucknell hopes to make a statement in their first trip to the Wolverine State since 1936.

Bucknell hopes to pull the upset over the defending Sun Bowl champs.
Source: Lianne Garrahan/ Towson Athletics

Since Bucknell continued playing FBS opponents in 2015, games against Northeastern schools have become a regularity, with the Bison making two trips to West Point and renewing the Battle for the Old Shoe against Temple in 2019. This weekend’s game is a groundbreaking one as it is their first trip to Michigan since the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration.

Of course, with a post like this, we have to look at what life in America was like in 1936, so please enjoy these quick bullets.

  • Heisman Trophy Winner: Larry Kelley, End, Yale
  • AP Poll National Champion: Minnesota
  • Price of Gas: $0.19/gallon
  • Top Grossing Movie: How to Become a Detective
  • AL & NL MVPs: Lou Gerhig and Carl Hubbell

The Bison have played three times in the state of Michigan against a program that no longer exists. In 1925, 1935, and 1936, the Bison traveled to the Motor City to face Detroit-Mercy, who would discontinue their program in 1964. However, at this time, they were far from a nobody in the college football world.

In 1925, Detroit was in its first year under new coach Gus Dorais. Three years later, Parke H. Davis would award Detroit a national championship. Dorais is arguably most notable for being the quarterback during Notre Dame’s upset of Army in 1913. In 1925, Detroit was merely an average team, finishing 5-4, with one of those losses coming at the hands of Bucknell.

A 54-yard Bucknell punt in the second quarter pinned Detroit on their own four yard-line and set up a short 31-yard touchdown drive where the Bison scored the game’s only touchdown on a pass for a 7-0 win on the road.

Ten years later, the Bison would not be as lucky. Once again hosting Bucknell at University of Detroit Stadium, the future home of the Continental Football League’s Michigan Arrows, the Titans avenged their home loss to the Bison with a 53-0 blowout win. With a passing performance that was extraordinary for 1935, the Titans completed 14 of their 22 passes for 253 yards and ran for 332 more yards. Their defense held the Bison to 112 yards and only three first downs.

The next year, their matchup was less ugly for the Bison, but still ugly nonetheless, as they lost to Detroit 33-7. The Bison kept it close, only trailing 20-7 at halftime before the Titans scored 13 unanswered to win 33-7.

Bucknell would like better luck in this return trip to the Wolverine State. The odds are stacked against them against a Central Michigan team that went to the Sun Bowl last year and looked strong against Oklahoma State. However, the Bison have shown good fight in their past two games against Towson and VMI.

This game should not be an embarrassment like their last FBS game against Army when the Bison failed to cover a 51-point spread in a 63-10 loss. (I bet Bucknell to cover in this game sadly.) How the Bison play against another 2021 bowl team will be a big measuring stick of their progress after 2021’s nightmare season.

Bucknell football is reunited with the Wolverine State and it feels so good. Hopefully, the Bison can wipe the bad taste left in their mouths over eight decades ago with a strong showing against the Chippewas.