Grinnell set the standard for football for everyone west of the Mississippi
On October 6, 1889, the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) published a statement to all other Iowa colleges in the Vidette-Reporter, “The State University football team hereby challenges any college or other team in the state of Iowa to a game of football." Within a few days, Iowa College, now Grinnell College, accepted the challenge. They played the first game played by both schools and the first football game played west of the Mississippi River.
On November 19, 1989 both football teams took to the field in Grinnell, Iowa. Using a variation of passing and the flying wedge offense (a formation that hid the ball carrier with a V) Iowa College shot out to a 10-0 halftime lead. In the second half, Iowa College scored two more touchdowns to solidify the win. Iowa College finished 1-0 during their inaugural 1989 football season and ended the State University’s season at 0-1. Since then, the teams met eighteen times with the overall record favoring the University of Iowa 12-5-1. However, Grinnell won the last game played between the two teams 10-0 in 1917.
The larger part of the photo to the left shows Grinnell players during that historic match in November, 1989. The small inset in the upper left was taken in 1949. It shows two members of that 1889 squad. They are Sam Pooley (left) and Herbert Miller, both from Grinnell. (Des Moines Register Archives)
The photo in the upper right from Homecoming in 1926 or 1927 has a group of the players from the game in front of a banner reading "These men played and won the first football game west of the Mississippi." (Backus)
Gratitude to Des Moines Register, Grinnell Athletics, Grinnell College Football Archives, Grinnell College Archives, Howard Backus '26, and Matt Rosenbaum ’12