Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 2002

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

The fourth installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us to 2002. Ohio State wasn’t yet the football monster it is today, or at least most people didn’t perceive it to be. The 2002 game was a tight, hard-fought contest, with Michgan playing very well on the road, in an extremely difficult environment.

But in the end, none of that mattered. Ohio State won, Michigan lost, and from the Michigan perspective, it was painful. Yes, the team played valiently. But it was painful, nonetheless.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said after the game that they knew at halftime they would need a touchdown to win. They almost got a touchdown, but not quite.

After Ohio State took a 14-9 lead with 4:55 to play, but the Wolverines still had plenty of fight left in them. Quarterback John Navarre led Michigan on a pair of drives, the last one getting to the Ohio State 24-yard line. From there, Michigan had time for just one play left. With Ohio State expecting pass, defensive back Will Allen intercepted the pass just short of the goal line, and the game was over. Ironically, the Buckeyes were led by quarterback Craig Krenzel, who hailed from Uitca, Michigan.

Michigan enjoyed solid performances from a pair of juniors, Navarre and tailback Chris Perry. Stoic and resolute, both players were already plotting their revenge against the Buckeyes, but that’s a story for another day. Maybe tomorrow, in fact.

The Buckeyes, as we all know, went on to earn a controversial win against Miami in the Tostitos Fiest Bowl, giving Ohio State its first national championship since 1968. Michigan concluded its season with a visit to the Outback Bowl, where the Wolverines began a long tradition of defeating Florida, earning a 38-30 win over the Gators in the first meeting between the two schools.

Many thanks to ESPN Classic for the film of this game. 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 jeffcummins@optonline.net.