1881 Harvard Crimson football
Conference Independent
1881 record 6–1–1
Head coach Lucius Littauer (1st year)
Captain William H. Manning
« 1880 1882 »
1881 college football records
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Yale         5 0 1
Princeton         7 0 2
Richmond         2 0 0
Dartmouth         1 0 1
Penn State         1 0 0
Harvard         6 1 1
Massachusetts         2 1 1
Kentucky U.         2 1 0
Columbia         3 3 1
Rutgers         2 4 1
Stevens Tech         1 2 1
Kentucky State         1 2 0
CCNY         0 1 0
Lewisburg         0 1 0
MIT         0 1 0
Wesleyan         0 1 0
Randolph–Macon         0 2 0
Amherst         0 3 1
Michigan         0 3 0
Penn         0 5 0

The 1881 Harvard Crimson football team represented Harvard University in the 1881 college football season. They finished with a 6–1–1 record. The team was managed by first-year head coach, Lucius Littauer, and captained for the second year by William H. Manning.[1][2]


October 20at Montreal FBCMontreal, QCW 2–0
October 21at Ottawa City FBCOttawa, ONW 9–1
October 29at Brittania FBCMontreal, QCW 2–0
October 31MichiganBoston, MAW 4–0
November 2vs. PennNew York, NY (Rivalry)W 2–0
November 5ColumbiaCambridge, MA (Rivalry)W 1–0
November 12at YaleNew Haven, CT (Rivalry)L 0–1
November 19vs. PrincetonNew York, NY (Rivalry)T 0–0

October 31: Harvard 4, Michigan 0Edit

Harvard played Michigan on October 31 in the first matchup of teams from the west and east.[3] The Boston Journal carried a lengthy article about the game, saying that Harvard scored one touchdown and Michigan none.

"Yesterday afternoon, in a drenching rain, for the first time an Eastern foot-ball eleven played with a Western eleven. The Western college boys have long wished a chance to try their powers with Eastern opponents, and, to effect this, the University of Michigan this fall have sent on a representative eleven to play the largest of the Eastern colleges. Their first opponent were the Harvard team. They were beaten but with fair weather the result would have been very uncertain. As it was, Harvard won more by luck than by superiority in strength or skill, for with the exception of the first ten minutes they were forced to play a defensive game. ... During the second half hour the ball was near the Harvard line constantly. Once it came within three feet of the chalk, but the most desperate fighting on the Harvard forced it back foot by foot until the immediate danger was over. ... The Michigan team excelled in running, and their tackling was very fair. As to passing, they did very little. It was by all odds the best game seen in Boston this fall."[4]

In 1901, one of the Michigan players, Fred Townsend, wrote an account of the 1881 trip. He said Harvard scored a touchdown at the very beginning of the game, but missed the try for goal. Michigan recovered and came within three yards of scoring a touchdown in the second half, but they were held for downs by the bigger Harvard players.[5]


  1. "1881 Harvard Crimson Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  2. "Harvard Football Yearly Records". Harvard University. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  3. "Media Center: Football - A Timeline of Tradition". Harvard University. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
  4. "Foot Ball: The Harvard Eleven Beat the University of Michigan – Score, One Touchdown to Nothing". Boston Journal. 1881-11-01.
  5. Townsend, Fred (1901). "The First Eastern Trip". University of Michigan.
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