Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Welcome to the house the Wolverines built

November 1, 2002
The University of Michigan stadium, known as the “Big House,” is the largest college stadium in the country, holding 107,501 fans. The MSU football team will face U-M this weekend in Ann Arbor. —

Ann Arbor - University of Michigan alumni and students pride themselves on its presence.

It’s estimated that 880,000 pounds of reinforcing steel was used in its construction.

It’s almost impossible to miss the giant block “M” on the back of its scoreboard when driving down Main Street in Ann Arbor.

They call it the “Big House.” And for good reason.

Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in college football with a capacity of 107,501. And on many occasions the stadium has housed more than that, including a NCAA record 111,575 spectators against Ohio State on Nov. 20, 1999.

MSU sophomore tight end Jason Randall said the Big House had him in awe when he visited the campus while in high school.

“I came here first and (Spartan Stadium) was huge to me,” he said. “Then, I went there and (Michigan Stadium) is spread out more. Our stadium goes up higher, but theirs is real wide, and it goes up just about as high as ours.

“I haven’t been there when a lot of people are there, so it’s going to be something new to me.”

The sight of a landmark as monstrous as Michigan Stadium can amaze the eye - and that’s when it’s empty. Add more than 100,000 football fans cheering for their beloved Wolverines, it can become a deafening experience.

Michigan student Jermaine Bridges said walking to the game and seeing the swarm of maize and blue entering the stadium on game day is an experience in itself.

“It’s just a massive amount of people and most are cheering for the same cause,” he said. “It’s something you have to experience. No one can tell you.

“It’s just amazing.”

But former MSU football head coach George Perles said he doesn’t think a full house is intimidating to opposing players.

“I think once you kick off they don’t feel that at all,” he said. “They’ve been taught to get rid of distractions so that doesn’t seem to be a problem. After 70,000, it doesn’t matter if there’s 70,000 or 140,000.

“The intimidation they’ll try is letting you come out first and then them coming out and hitting that banner. So we always made them go out first.”

Whether it’s intimidating to play in front of 100,000 fans or not, it’s hard to get a win in the stadium. U-M boasts an all-time record of 342-103-15 in the Big House.

Since Lloyd Carr took over the program in 1995, the Wolverines have dropped only six games at home in seven and a half seasons. The last time the MSU football team came away with a victory in the stadium was a 28-27 thriller in 1990.

Bridges said the success at home doesn’t go to the heads of the fans in the student section, especially after last week’s 34-9 loss to Iowa.

“We’re realistic,” he said. “You can’t expect them to win every game.”

Perles said beating other teams on the road doesn’t compare to winning in the Big House.

“It’s more fun beating Michigan in their home stadium,” he said. “That’s a real thrill.”


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