The fifth and final installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back to 2000. Prior to the new year, there were widespread fears about Y2K, and what it would mean to computers around the world. There were fears of mass transit problems, complete with concerns that Y2K could seriously hurt the trains in this country.
As it turned out, the Y2K computer problems never materialized, and computer problems were really Michigan State’s only hope of stopping the A Train, Anthony Thomas. In his final game against the Spartans, Thomas rushed 25 times for 175 yards and two touchdowns, averaging a whopping seven yards per carry. Throw in a Michigan defense that had bad memories of the previous year in East Lansing, and it was the perfect recipe for a 14-0 shutout of the Spartans.
The game started with junior quarterback Drew Henson deftly mixing the run and the pass, but the Wolverines failed to score very much. In the first quarter, Thomas punched the ball over from the 1-yard line, and that was really all Michigan would need. Later in the game, the Wolverines’ defense put its stamp on this game with a goal line stand that ended with Michigan linebacker Victor Hobson stripping the ball away and Eric Wilson making the recovery to give Michigan possession of both the ball and the momentum. In the third quarter, Thomas scored on a 31-yard run that was just icing on the cake. The Wolverines’ defense had already established which team was better.
All in all, the Wolverines were young in 2000 and struggled when playing away from Michigan Stadium. The Pasadena heat doomed them in an early season loss to UCLA, and losses to Big Ten foes Purdue and Northwestern prevented the Wolverines from going to a more serious bowl. The season ended with a 31-28 win over Auburn in the Citrus Bowl, hardly a fitting conclusion to the careers of Thomas and offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson. Henson left school permanently in the offseason, lured by the baseball dollars of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
Thanks to ABC Sports and YouTube poster WolverineHistorian. As always, we own nothing, and this video and blog are strictly for the enjoyment of readers.