1918 Illinois Fighting Illini football team

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1918 Illinois Fighting Illini football
1918 Illinois Fighting Illini football team.jpg
Big Ten co-champion
Conference Big Ten Conference
1918 record 5–2 (4–0 Big Ten)
Head coach Robert Zuppke (6th season)
Offensive scheme I formation
Captain Burt Ingwersen
Home stadium Illinois Field
← 1917
1919 →
1918 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Michigan + 2 0 0     5 0 0
Illinois + 4 0 0     5 2 0
Purdue + 1 0 0     3 3 0
Iowa 2 1 0     6 2 1
Minnesota 2 1 0     5 2 1
Northwestern 1 1 0     2 2 1
Wisconsin 1 2 0     3 3 0
Indiana 0 0 0     2 2 0
Ohio State 0 3 0     3 3 0
Chicago 0 5 0     4 6 1
  • + – Conference co-champions

The 1918 Illinois Fighting Illini football team was an American football team that represented the University of Illinois during the 1918 Big Ten Conference football season. In their sixth season under head coach Robert Zuppke, the Illini compiled a 5–2 record and tied for the Big Ten Conference championship.[1]

Center Jack Depler was a consensus first-team All-American.[2] Depler was selected as a first-team center by the Frank Menke Syndicate.[3] He was the only Big Ten player to be named a consensus All-American in 1918.[2]

Tackle Burt Ingwersen, guard Albert Mohr, and halfback Jesse Kirkpatrick received first-team All-Big Ten honors.[4][5] Ingwersen was also the acting team captain.[6]


Date Opponent Site Result
October 4 Chanute Air Force Base* Chanute Field • Rantoul, IL W 3–0  
October 12 Great Lakes Navy* Illinois FieldChampaign, IL L 0–7  
October 26 Chicago Naval Reserve* Illinois Field • Champaign, IL L 0–7  
November 2 Iowa Iowa FieldIowa City, IA W 19–0  
November 9 Wisconsin Camp Randall StadiumMadison, WI W 22–0  
November 16 Ohio Statedagger Illinois Field • Champaign, IL W 13–0  
November 23 at Chicago Stagg FieldChicago, IL W 29–0  
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming.

Game summaries[edit]

On October 5, 1918, Illinois opened its season with a victory over the team from Chanute Aviation Field from Rantoul, Illinois. The Illini won, 3–0, before a crowd of 2,500 in Urbana, Illinois. The game's only points were scored by Illinois guard Leitsch on a field goal from the 38-yard line. The Chanute team was led by Archie Weston, who had played for Michigan in 1917. Eleven planes from the Chanute Field flew over the game.[7] Illinois had originally been scheduled to play Iowa State on the date, but that game was cancelled due to travel restrictions.[8]

On October 12, 1918, Illinois lost to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station team, 7–0, in Urbana, Illinois. Great Lakes scored a touchdown in the first quarter, and both teams were held scoreless thereafter. Paddy Driscoll returned the kickoff at the start of the second half for 65 yards.[9] The 1918 Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets football team compiled a 3–0–1 record against Big Ten opponents, went on to win the 1919 Rose Bowl, and featured three players (George Halas, Jimmy Conzelman, and Paddy Driscoll) who were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Charlie Bachman, who was hired as Northwestern's coach after the season and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, also played for the 1918 Great Lakes team.

On October 26, 1918, Illinois lost, 7–0, against Chicago Naval Reserve a team from the United States Naval Reserve School at Chicago's Municipal Pier. The game was played in Urbana, Illinois. Due to health concerns, "the gates were barred and the spectators limited to coaches, water carriers, officials, and the few others necessary to pull off a contest."[10]

On November 2, 1918, Illinois defeated Iowa, 19–0, at Iowa City. Illinois scored touchdowns in the second, third, and fourth quarters. The Des Moines Register credited Illinois' victory to "perfectly executed forward passes and machinelike teamwork."[11][12]

On November 9, 1918, Illinois defeated Wisconsin, 22–0, before a crowd of 7,000 at Camp Randall Field in Madison, Wisconsin. According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, the Badgers were "outclassed and outweighed" while the Illini "fought like wildcats" and had the Badgers on the defensive through most of the game.[13]

On November 16, 1918, Illinois defeated Ohio State, 13–0, on a muddy field in Champaign, Illinois. Kirkpatrick and Sabo scored touchdowns for Illinois.[14]

On November 23, 1918, Illinois defeated Chicago, 29–0, at Stagg Field in Chicago.[15]


Player Position
Burt Ingwersen (captain) Tackle
William Kopp Fullback
John C. Depler Center
Robert Fletcher Quarterback
Ralph Fletcher Halfback, kicker
Chuck Carney End, punter
Lawrence Walquist Halfback, quarterback
Albert Mohr Guard
Milton Olander Guard, tackle
George Buchheit End
Ralph Lanum Fullback
Neil Leitch Guard
C. Ernest Lovejoy End
Fred Hanschmann Guard
John Sabo Jr. Halfback
Jesse Kirkpatrick Halfback

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ "1918 Illinois Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "2014 NCAA Football Records: Consensus All-America Selections" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 2014. p. 4. Retrieved August 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b ESPN College Football Encyclopedia, p. 1153
  4. ^ Walter Eckersall (December 8, 1918). "Eckersall Picks "All Star" Eleven of the Big Ten". Chicago Tribune. pp. 2–4 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ ESPN Big Ten Football Encyclopedia. ESPN Books. 2007. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-933060-49-1. 
  6. ^ "Fighting Illini Football Record Book" (PDF). University of Illinois. 2015. p. 156. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Illini Register Aerial Victory Over Flyers, 3–0". Chicago Tribune. October 6, 1918. pp. 2–4 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  8. ^ "To Open Season Today: Eight of First Big Ten Play First Games Today". The Fort Wayne News and Sentinel. October 5, 1918. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  9. ^ "Great Lakes Is Victor Over Illinois Team in Hard-Fought Game, 7–0". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. October 13, 1918. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  10. ^ "One Pass Gives Pier Win Over Illinois, 7 to 0: Zuppke's Men Lack Punch Three Times When on Verge of Score". Chicago Tribune. October 27, 1918. pp. 2–5 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  11. ^ "Illinois Defeats Hawkeyes, 19 to 0". The Des Moines Register. November 3, 1918. p. 14 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ "Illinois' Open Play, Puzzling Hawkeyes, Gives 19–0 Victory". Chicago Tribune. November 3, 1918. pp. 2–5 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  13. ^ "Hard Playing Illini Put Out Badgers In Big Ten Race, 22–0". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 10, 1918. pp. 2–5 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  14. ^ "Illinois Pounds Line For Victory Over Ohio: Urbana Boys Make Their First Touchdown Within Five Minutes After Opening of Game; Second in Third Quarter". The Decatur Herald. November 17, 1918. p. 8 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  15. ^ "Illini Crush Maroon Team and Claim Title of Big Ten". Chicago Tribune. November 24, 1918. p. 5 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  16. ^ "Camp's All American: Football Dean Names Three Teams from Last Season's Records" (PDF). The New York Times. 1918-12-31.