The final installment of my Michigan-Ohio State countdown takes us to 2011, the lone game I’m reviewing in the current century, and with good reason, from a Michigan perspective. The current decade has been dominated by Ohio State, with Troy Smith spinning away from Michigan linebackers and A.J. Hawk knocking running backs all the way to Massachusetts. It’s been a rough century so far, from the Maize and Blue view.
But in 2011, that changed. Led by former UM assistant coach Brady Hoke, the Wolverines started the game with renewed optimism, only to see Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller find Corey Brown all alone for a 54-yard touchdown pass to give Ohio State the early lead. Michigan regained its poise, though, and quarterback Denard Robinson knotted the score when he darted around left tackle on an option play for a 41-yard touchdown run. A holding penalty in the end zone on Ohio State gave Michigan a safety, and the Wolverines took control…for a little while. Ultimately, the game went back and forth, and wasn’t decided until Courtney Avery intercepted Miller with seconds to play, giving Michigan its first win in the series since 2003.
Truer words may have never been spoken!
It’s Thanksgiving, and as one writer friend notes, it’s very good to have “an attitude of gratitude.” We all have plenty to be thankful for in life, and this is a good opportunity to remember that.
For the fifth installment of the Michigan-Ohio State, we go back 15 years to 1997, right in the heart of then-President Bill Clinton’s second term in the Oval Office. The economy was roaring, but the Michigan Wolverines entered that season with plenty of doubts regarding their talents. There were quiet rumblings that “The Block M stood for mediocrity.” Quietly, Michigan vowed not to let the ’97 campaign turn out the way that previous seasons had finished. Through the first 10 games, everything went according to Michigan’s blueprint, but the 11th game was against a highly motivated group from Ohio State. After a scoreless stalemate in the first quarter, Michigan broke through when freshman Anthony Thomas scored on a run up the middle. A few minutes later, Charles Woodson used a couple of good blocks to scamper down the far sideline. Michigan led at the half, 13-0.
The third quarter started out with Michigan scoring on an Andre Weathers, giving the Wolverines a commanding 20-0 lead. But Ohio State wasn’t about to go quietly into the night. The Bucks stormed back with a pair of touchdowns, the first coming when quarterback Joe Germaine connected with David Boston, and the second coming after linebacker Jerry Rudzinski forced a fumble from Michigan quarterback Brian Griese. With the Wolverines ahead by only six points, Michigan fans held their collective breath, but the Michigan defense held the lead, punctuated by Marcus Ray’s bruising hit on Boston that swung the pendulum of momentum back in Michigan’s direction. The Wolverines held on to win, 20-14, and went on to defeat Washington State in the Rose Bowl, completing Michigan’s first perfect season in decades and giving Michigan a share of the National Championship in the season before the Bowl Championship Series was introduced.
Once again, thanks to Brian Cook of mgovideo & mgoblog, as well as to color commentator Bob Griese, and venerable play-by-play man Keith Jackson, who provided the heart and soul of college football for viewers everywhere for several decades.
The fourth installment of Michigan-Ohio State week takes us all the way back to 1950. Today, even the most casual of fans knows obscure statistics, largely because of the advent of fantasy football. Go on. Admit it. I see you smiling over there. Yes, you, the person checking this story on his smart phone. You’re blushing, because you know your stats cold.
Well, cold is exactly how the stats were served at the 1950 game between Michigan and Ohio State. The night before the game, a freak blizzard dumped more than a foot of fresh snow on Ohio Stadium, and volunteers worked through the night to make the field playable for the game. When the decision was made to play the game, the two teams played hot potato with the ball, combining for a record 45 punts, including 24 alone by Michigan’s Chuck Ortmann. But Ortmann would be the first to tell you that he couldn’t have done it without Carl Kreager.
Who’s Carl Kreager, you ask? Well, long snappers have never gotten their due in football, but for this game, Kreager deserved to make the All-America team. In a blinding snowstorm, Kreager delivered 24 perfect long snaps to Ortmann; an impressive feat under ideal conditions. Late in the second quarter, Michigan blocked an Ohio State punt, and Tony Momsen fell on the ball in the end zone for the game’s only touchdown. Michigan went on to win, 9-3, without registering one first down for the entire game.