C6-H0 plays a prominent part in nation's sports lexicon
RELEASED: Nov. 3, 2005
DANVILLE, KYThe Centre football team's astounding 1921 upset of Harvard has long been a part of College lore. A scan of the nation's sports pages this fall shows evidence that the game, immortalized in the "impossible chemical formula"' C6-H0, occupies a prominent place in the nation's consciousness as well.
The New York Times "This Day in Sports" Saturday, Oct. 29, described the Praying Colonels' victory over the Crimson as "arguably the upset of the century in college football" and reprinted the original unsigned game dispatch, titled "David Skunks Goliath at Harvard," which featured a memorable description of "famous quarterback" Bo McMillin's touchdown run:
He dashed through the line to his right, with Roberts interfering for him. Once through the line, he half reversed, saw an opening and dashed off to his left and straight for the side line. Up to this time he had not even been slapped by a Harvard tackler, and there were only two men between him and the Harvard goal line. These were Gherke and Johnson. They were at McMillin's right and not very far ahead of him. Neither had a chance to make a head-on tackle, and so they chased him to the side line.
McMillin kept on going, faster and faster. At the side line both Gherke and Johnson threw themselves at him, but with the cleverness of a Mahan, McMillin stopped short, took only a brushing blow from the Harvard men, and then was off like the wind for the goal line, now only 10 yards away. He was overtaken from behind because of the delay, but not until he had crossed the last yard of ground.
Two weeks ago, and on the other side of the country, Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Ted Miller, musing on his Washington Huskies chances against heavily favored USC, wrote:
Biggest upset in history? Many college football historians—aka crusty, tweedy fellas who grow misty over black-and-white images of players in leather helmets—would insist it was the "Praying Colonels" of Centre College beating Harvard 6-0 in 1921….
In 1950, the Associated Press called it the biggest upset of the first half of the 20th century. Harvard had won four national championships over the previous 11 years and was riding a 25-game winning streak at the time.
The Centre upset may have given Miller hope, but his Huskies couldn't repeat the Centre magic against Southern Cal, and lost 51-24.
Finally, closer to home, Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Mark Story reminisced Sunday about the days when Centre dominated the "Ag Boys" of State College (now better known as the University of Kentucky) as well as many bigger names on the national gridiron scene:
Benjamin Harrison was in the White House in 1891 when the Kentucky-Centre gridiron rivalry began.
Little Centre—even then an elite school in Kentucky—dominated the "Ag Boys" of State College (as UK was called early in its existence), winning nine of the first 12 games.
Briefly, UK turned the tide by winning five of the next six.
But then, in what still seems the most improbable episode in our state's eventful college-sports history, a series of events led to Centre becoming a genuine college football titan.
Not a small-college titan.
A beat Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia in the same year (1924) titan.
A shock-the-nation kind of titan.
At a time when the Ivy League was the center of the college football universe (really), it was … Centre that in 1921 traveled to Cambridge, Mass., and became the first team:
1.) in more than five years to beat the mightiest Ivy power of them all, Harvard;
2.) from outside the East ever to fell one of the Ivy League's Big Three—Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
To put it in today's terms, this would have been the equivalent of Centre traveling to Los Angeles and beating the Southern Cal of Leinart and Bush.
For more information of the legendary C6-H0 game, please see Centre's special section.
Click here for a printable screen shot of the article.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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