The ‘60s were a brutal time for Michigan football. With the political and social turbulence of the era, students often turned their attention to events other than football. Everyone liked the guy who coached the team, but the Wolverines played before a lot of empty seats in Michigan Stadium. Yes, I know that sounds familiar, but it all changed once Bo Schembechler was hired.
Sadly, while Bo conquered the enemy to the south in his first year, he didn’t conquer the enemy further up the road off I-96 West. Michigan State had fielded powerful teams for the better part of two decades, and the Spartans didn’t feel like welcoming Schembechler to the Big Ten with open arms. Being a resilient man, Bo made sure his Wolverines changed that in 1970.
Year 2 of the Bo era found the Wolverines hungry to beat a Spartan team that had been a thorn in their sides for nearly two decades. The Wolverines’ balanced offense kept State off balance all day, gaining a total of 460 yards in a 34-20 Michigan win. Billy Taylor carried 29 times for 152 yards and three touchdowns, while Don Moorhead completed 12 0f 19 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown. After spotting Michigan State a 7-0 lead, Michigan went on an 80-yard scoring drive, resulting in a touchdown when Taylor broke a tackle and went 26 yards down the left sideline for the tying score. With score tied 13-13 at halftime, Michigan broke the deadlock by giving the Michigan State defense a healthy dose of Taylor, who carried nine times on the first series of the second half, scoring from four yards out over right tackle to give the Wolverines a 20-13 lead. The drive was classic Bo, who let the offensive line impose its will on the Spartans. Defensive back Thom Darden intercepted a pass on State’s ensuing possession, giving Michigan the ball at the State 31. With the run firmly established, the offense returned to its balanced attack, and Moorhead connected with Fritz Seyferth on an 8-yard touchdown pass that put the Wolverines ahead by a comfortable margin.
Unlike many games between the Wolverines and the Spartans, the 1970 game was not controversial, and it wasn’t all that exciting, either. It was methodical, which was exactly what Bo had planned, and it marked the first of eight consecutive Michigan victories in the series, leaving no doubt that the Maize and Blue were in charge again.
Thanks to youtube poster Wolverine Historian, who posted the coaches’ film of this game. As always, I own nothing. Jeff Cummins may be reached at email@example.com.