Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1989

The third installment of the series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us back to 1989. The Wolverines had a fair number of talented players in the secondary that season, including safeties Vada Murray, Tripp Welborne, and Corwin Brown. But on this day, the defensive star was cornerback Todd Plate.

Don’t go scouring old game programs for information on Plate; you won’t find much. The ’89 iteration of The Game was his signature performance. Plate intercepted two passes that day as the Wolverine defense welcomed Ohio State coach John Cooper to Ann Arbor for the first time.

Of course, Michigan’s 28-18 win wasn’t strictly defense. Michigan used an old-fashioned ball control running game to take control of the game for good, highlighted by a 13-play, 81-yard drive that consisted entirely of running plays, which was only appropriate, since this was the last time that Bo Schembechler would coach in The Game. Allen Jefferson capped the drive with a short touchdown run into the south end zone, giving the Wolverines a 14-0 lead, and Schembechler was an expert when it came to preserving a lead.

With the victory, the team gave Bo the sendoff present that mattered most to him: The Big Ten championship of 1989.

Thanks to ABC Sports and YouTube poster expressfan. As always, I own nothing, and this blog and video are posted strictly for the enjoyment of readers.

Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1996

The second installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us back to 1996. On the morning of the game, I was driving up to Buffalo, N.Y. with my wife to watch the worst Jets team in history take on the Buffalo Bills. On the radio while we were driving, someone on the radio referred to The Game, and noted that Ohio State was the favorite. He added that he expected OSU fans to sing “Buckeye Battle Cry” many times after the end of the game.

That’s exactly when I knew Michigan was going to win.

Yes, that sounds corny. Call it what was defined in “Star Wars” as a “tremor in the force.” Sure, that sounds even cornier, but the fact is that I just had a sudden feeling that Michigan was going to win that day. By the time we checked into our hotel room in Hamburg, N.Y., the game was down to the final play, and sure enough, Marcus Ray intercepted a Joe Germaine pass and eventually came to a sliding halt. Man, those were the days!

In retrospect, when you watch the game on YouTube, Ohio State had the better of play in the first half, but the 9-0 half time margin was far from commanding. Then came the second half. Brian Griese entered the game, and the beginning of the Griese legend was about to take shape. Griese connected with Tai Streets on a post pattern that produced a touchdown, and it was evident that Michigan was determined to play the role of the less-than-cooperative underdog. Oddly enough, Michigan wound up losing to Alabama in the Outback Bowl. Still, in my mind, many of the seeds for that glorious 1997 season were planted on that day in Columbus, Ohio.

Thanks, as always, to ABC Sports and YouTube poster j bakkar. I own nothing and this blog and the attached video are strictly posted for the enjoyment of readers.

Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1998

The first installment of this year’s series on the Michigan-Ohio State football rivalry takes us to 1998. The late ‘90s were heady times for the Maize & Blue, and the offseason leading up to the ’98 season might have been the headiest time of all. Coming off a perfect season and a share of the national championship, Michigan had vanquished all the ghosts of seasons past. An expansion of 5,000 seats enabled Michigan Stadium to reclaim the title of nation’s largest college football stadium, and the addition of highly-touted quarterback recruit Drew Henson and highly-touted running back Justin Fargas had Michigan fans dreaming of even more glory.

Unfortunately for Michigan, the 1998 season unfolded with all the charm of a hangover. Many critical players graduated or left early to join the National Football League. My wife and I attended the home opener in the newly expanded stadium, hoping to see the raising of the National Championship banner (in our native New York, the raising of a world championship banner borders on a religious experience). Sadly, Michigan didn’t raise a national championship banner in the stadium, and Donovan McNabb and Syracuse thrashed Michigan.

Still, by the final week of the regular season, Michigan had righted the ship, and was in position to win the Big Ten championship with a victory in Columbus. Unfortunately, Ohio State was lying in wait for Michigan, still smarting from a loss in Ann Arbor the previous season. By now, everyone knows how that game turned out. A year earlier, Michigan cornerback Andre Weathers had been one of the heroes for the Wolverines; this time, Ohio State receiver David Boston burned him for a pair of touchdown receptions on the way to a 31-16 Ohio State win.

Fortunately for Michigan, the Wolverines adhered to Bo Schembechler’s old rule not to let one loss become two losses, as they routed Hawaii in a rare season-ending non-conference game, and then overcame two deficits to top Arkansas in the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Thanks, as always, to ABC Sports, and to YouTube poster Stephen Barnett. We own nothing, and this post is strictly for the enjoyment of readers.