Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1968


The second installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us to 1968. The world was undergoing a lot of turbulent changes as the decade thundered toward its finale. In college football, Bump Elliott’s last team had been much more successful that his first one, winning eight of nine games heading into the showdown in Columbus.

Things started out well for the maize and blue. Tailback Ron Johnson, an All-America running and later and All-Pro running back, went into the end zone midway through the first quarter to give Michigan a 7-0 lead.
Johnson scored again, but that first touchdown was the last time Michigan would hold the lead in this game.

Trailing by just seven at halftime, the Wolverines endured a merciless onslaught in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. With less than two minutes remaining, Buckeye running back Jim Otis scored to make the final tally Ohio State 50, Michigan 14. That’s when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes committed a rare strategic mistake.

Rather than kick the customary extra point, Hayes had Ohio State go for two. The attempt failed, but the impact remained. Buckeye legions reviled in their coach’s attempt to rub salt in the Wolverines’ wounds.

On the visiting sideline, everyone in maize and blue seethed. Hayes had just poked the proverbial bear, or in this case, Wolverine.

Rarely has one game prompted as much reaction as this one. While Michigan finished with eight wins and two losses, the wins weren’t on anyone’s mind. Jim Mandich wasn’t about to forget this game, neither were Billy Taylor, Henry Hill, or Mike Hankwitz. And Athletic Director Don Canham wasn’t about to forget, either. His response would haunt the Buckeyes for decades to come.

As always, we don’t profit from this blogpost in any way. This content is presented strictly for the enjoyment of readers.

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.