Michigan Football vs Michigan State — Looking Back — 1979


The third installment of the series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us to 1979. The Wolverines finished 8-4 that year, which was odd, given the fact that their roster included linebackers Ron Simpkins, Andy Cannavino and Mel Owen, receivers Ralph Clayton and Anthony Carter, and running backs Butch Woolfolk and Stan Edwards, whose sons later played at Michigan. Some of our younger readers might remember Edwards’ son, Braylon, who could play some wide receiver.

In the late ‘70s, the spread offense had yet to arrive in Big Ten football, so both teams spent much of the day operating out of the I formation, literally banging heads. In the second quarter, Woolfork scored from two yards out on a sweep to give Michigan the lead. It stayed that way into the third quarter, when Derek Hughes scored from six yards out to tie the score, 7-7. At that point, the Wolverines seized control of the game, going 80 yards in five plays, 66 of them coming on a 66-yard scoring pass from B.J. Dickey to Clayton. After that, the Wolverines were in the driver’s seat, and they put the game away when Dickey connected with Carter for a 6-yard touchdown that made the final score 21-7.

Sadly, that was the high point of Michigan’s season. The Wolverines finished with the three consecutive losses, Simpkins and defensive end Curtis Greer were named the All-America team, and the Wolverines easily reloaded for the 1978 season.

Thanks to ABC Spots and YouTube poster Wolverine Historian. As always, we own nothing, and this blog and video are strictly for the enjoyment of viewers.


About Jeff Cummins

Jeff Cummins has written about football since 1998, including nine years with The Record of Hackensack, N.J. He frequently contributes feature stories to Touchdown Illustrated, an insert in the national college football game program, published by University Sports Publications, and he has also written the official pregame stories for the game programs of the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Gator Bowl, and the BCS National Championship game. He has written the preview story for the official program for the NHL Winter Classic at MIchigan Stadium, and numerous college basketball feature stories for College Hoops Illustrated, another game program insert published by University Sports Publications. In addition, he has written stories about theater, music, physical therapy, and newsletter marketing. He’s an avid Michigan football fan and long-time New York Jets season ticket holder, and he can be reached at jeffcummins@optonline.net.