The third installment of the series looking back at the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry takes us to 1975. KC and the Sunshine Band had Americans listening to “That’s the Way (I like it)” and we had a Wolverine in the White House, with President Gerald Ford promising to “Whip Inflation Now”, while some clever, less optimistic people turned the WIN buttons upside down to convey “No Immediate Miracles.”
That last bit was good advice for the Michigan football team’s hope of beating Ohio State. Both teams came into the 1975 game without a loss, with Ohio State 10-0 and Michigan 8-0-2. The game started off like so many others had in that era, with Ohio State scoring first when Cornelius Greene connected with Peter Johnson for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Then Michigan struck back and went 80 yards, with running back Gordon Bell capping the drive by throwing a halfback option pass to Jim Smith for an 11-yard touchdown pass. In the fourth quarter, Michigan took the lead when Rick Leach scored on a 1-yard run to give Michigan a 14-7 lead. Michigan Stadium was buzzing with the hope for a Michigan win, but Ohio State had other ideas. On 4th down and one yard to go, Johnson dove in to the end zone to tie the score. Things got worse for Michigan when Leach dropped back to pass deep in Wolverine territory and was intercepted by Ohio State defensive back Ray Griffin, who returned the ball to the Michigan 3-yard line, setting up another touchdown run by Johnson and sending the crowd of 105, 543 back to their tailgate parties to contemplate what could possibly have gone wrong in the fourth quarter.
For Ohio State, the celebration was brief. The Buckeyes traveled to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl for a rematch against a UCLA team that Ohio State had beaten earlier in the season. This time it didn’t work out so well for Ohio State, as UCLA won the Rose Bowl, 23-10. Michigan went to the Orange Bowl to play Oklahoma, which topped the Wolverines, 14-6. All in all, it was a frustrating season for Michigan, but fans of the Maize & Blue were encouraged by the youth of the team’s roster, and the knowledge that plenty of talented players would return for the 1976 season.
Thanks to youtube poster Ourhonordefend and ABC Sports. As always, I own nothing and all content is posted strictly for your enjoyment.