SPECIAL TO UMGOBLUE.COM
The second installment of the series takes us to 1974. President Richard Nixon was impeached, and was replaced by Vice President Gerald Ford, who played center and linebacker for Michigan and led the Wolverines to consecutive perfect seasons and national championships in 1923 and 1933. On the movie screen, we flocked to theaters to see Al Pacino ascend to the throne as Don Michael Corleone in “The Godfather, Part II’ and country musician Ray Stevens entertained us with “The Streak,” a song about an odd mid-1970s fad. Things were much more conventional on the gridiron, where Ohio State and Michigan engaged in a classic defensive struggle in Columbus.
Once again, Ohio State relied on the legs of star running back Archie Griffin, and with good reason. Griffin was arguably the best player in the 1970s, and giving him the ball was one of the safest, most astute choices a team could make. Griffin rarely fumbled the ball and was rarely tackled for a loss. Just as important as his omnipresent ability to make game-changing plays was his knack for not making critical mistakes, such as fumbles or penalties. Griffin, along with quarterback Cornelius Greene and fellow running backs Brian Baschnagel and Pete Johnson put the Buckeyes in position to win the game, but the Wolverines stuck around like a relative who won’t leave the family picnic without trying the potato salad. As the clock wound down, Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin completed a 20-yard pass to set up a 33-yard field goal attempt for placekicker Mike Lantry, who had a similar role in the 1973 game. For the second year in a row, Lantry, an Army veteran who had served in the 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam from February 1968 to December 1970, and entered the University of Michigan as a 23-year-old married freshman. Lantry entered school as a walk-on football player, but he was named to the All-America team in 1973. Lantry never had much success against Ohio State, though, and once again, the Wolverines’ fate rested on the toes of his left foot. He attempted the 33-yard field goal from an awkward angle, and after a fairly long amount of time, referees ruled that his kick was no good. Once again, his kick had sailed just wide, and Ohio State held on for a 12-10 victory.
It wouldn’t be unusual for fans to mock a player who missed a field goal, but that never happened to Lantry, who received an overwhelming amount of support from Michigan fans, students and alumni. Even more impressive was the support from Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes. Hayes wasn’t shy about his desire to beat Michigan, but he was also a staunch supporter of the U.S. Military, and noted his admiration for Lantry’s service to his country. Prior to the ’74 clash, the two actually crossed paths during warm-ups, and Hayes wished Lantry good luck. Hayes was noted for his disdain for all things Michigan, but on this occasion he offered Lantry a quiet, but respectful greeting for his contribution to the nation. Lantry graduated in 1975 and, after playing briefly for the Dallas Cowboys, began a long career as a consultant to the automotive industry. Ohio State went to the Rose Bowl, where the Buckeyes played in another tough defensive struggle, falling to eventual national champion USC, 18-17. Thanks to OurHonorDefend on YouTube, and to ABC.
Michael Corleone? Oh yes, he outwitted Hyman Roth, particularly after Roth’s wife broke her husband’s concentration when she turned down the volume on the broadcast of the 1958 Notre Dame-USC game.