Michigan Football vs Michigan State — Looking Back — 1998


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 1998. The new year had shined bright in Ann Arbor before the season began. Michigan finished the previous season with a perfect record, 12-0, capturing the Rose Bowl championship and a share of the National Championship. As if that weren’t enough, 5,000 seats had been added to Michigan Stadium in the offseason, re-establishing The Big House as the largest on-campus stadium in the country.

Things were so heady for the Wolverines that the team suffered what could politely be called a National Championship hangover. The Maize & Blue dropped the first two games of the season, and they entered the game vs. Michigan State sporting a rare losing record. The first half of the game was one of the most exciting in the history of the series, and it ended with Michigan leading by just three points, thanks to the fact that three Michigan turnovers resulted in 10 points for the Spartans.

The second half was nothing like the first, to the delight of everyone in Maize & Blue. The defense suddenly reverted to 1997 form, and junior quarterback Tom Brady found receiver Marcus Knight several times as the Wolverines extended their lead to 29-17. Michigan State coach Nick Saban still had a few tricks up his sleeve. On 4th down and eight yards to go, Saban called for a fake punt, and Aric Morris scampered more than 20 yards to give the Spartans a first down. Michigan State’s optimism was short lived, though, as Michigan defensive back DeWayne Patmon coolly ran under a Bill Burke pass, intercepting it to end the Spartan threat. It took until the second half of the fourth game, but the Michigan defense finally returned, and helped to set Michigan’s season back on a path to success.

Our thanks to youtube poster WolverineHistorian and ABC Sports. As always, we own nothing, and this blog and the attached videos are presented strictly for the enjoyment of readers. We do not profit in any way from this.

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.