Michigan vs Minnesota Football — Looking Back – 1997


Looking Back is a Special Feature by Jeff Cummins Highlighting Key Rivalry Games

The second post of the series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Minnesota takes us back to 1997. Most prognosticators had pegged Michigan for rebuilding mode that season, but the Wolverines had other ideas. Despite the preseason predictions, the Wolverines had the confidence to make Minnesota the opponent for their 101st homecoming, an honor usually reserved for an opponent that’s expected to be a fairly easy win for the home team.

When game day arrived, the Wolverines delivered on their promise. Fresh off a stirring defensive performance at Michigan State, Michigan spotted the Golden Gophers a three-point lead when Adam Bailey kicked a 26-yard field goal for Minnesota. That was the last time all day the Michigan defense would prove to be so sporting to the Golden Gophers. After a methodical march downfield, Jay Feely’s field gaol attempt sailed wide right, and Michigan let Minnesota off the hook. Things changed immediately in the second quarter, as Charles Woodson scampered 34 yards on a reverse to score the Wolverines’ first touchdown of the day. After that, the game took on a distinct maize & blue hue. Minnesota’s offense played at normal speed, while the Wolverine defense looked as if the tape was set in fast forward mode. Following a brief Minnesota possession, Brian Griese found tight end Mark Campbell on a waggle pass for a 12-yard touchdown pass and the Wolverines were in solid control.

In the second half, Anthony Thomas scored on a 30-yard run to effectively turn out the lights on the day. The easy victory proved to be beneficial for the Wolverines, who had critical games coming up against Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Washington State in the drive for their first national championship since 1948.

Thanks to YouTube poster WolverineHistorian for the highlight film of this game. As always, this blog post is strictly for the enjoyment of readers and I do not profit in any way from it.

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.