Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 1980

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

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 1980, and one of the most memorable games in the rivalry’s history. The Wolverines had stubbed their toes twice early in the season, but after a loss to South Carolina, the team started to click.

In the first quarter, Marion Body intercepted a pass from John Leister, and the Wolverines were in business. John Wangler found Anthony Carter for a 22-yard completion to the Michigan State 1-yard line, and Lawrence Ricks scored to give Michigan a 10-0 lead.

But, this being the rivalry it is, that lead wasn’t safe for long. Leister scored on a 7-yard run to tie the score at 10-10, and after Michigan’s Ali Haji-Sheikh and Michigan State’s Morten Andersen traded field goals, the teams went into their respective locker rooms tied 13-13 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Haji-Sheike nailed a 26-yard field goal, but was roughed on the play. Michigan made the rare decision to take points off the board, and it worked out, as Wangler and Carter connected for a 5-yard touchdown pass to give Michigan a 20-13 lead.

Michigan State responded, intercepting a Wangler pass, which led to another Andersen field goal. The teams then traded touchdowns before Michigan linebacker Andy Cannavino intercepted a Leister pass to thwart a Spartan threat, and the Wolverines held on for a 27-23 win.

Michigan used the victory as a springboard, going undefeeated the rest of the season, and winning both the Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl, where Bo Schembechler’s men overwhelmed Washington, 23-6.

But much of the momentum for the team’s success came from its win over Michigan State, in a game that was immortalized in the 1983 movie, “The Big Chill.”

Thanks to youtube poster RxWolverine for the attached highlight film. As always, we own nothing and this film and blog post are intended 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