Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1995

The fifth and final installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us back to 1995. The larger word had yet to discover the Internet, and Ohio State was on the verge of becoming a national football powerhouse. The Buckeyes were almost certainly headed to the Rose Bowl; the only thing that remained was their coronation in Ann Arbor. 

But a funny thing happened on the way to that coronation. Ohio State had defeated Michigan the previous year, and was feeling very confident leading up to “The Game” in 1995. There’s a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. More to the point, you don’t want to give your opponents ammunition. and the Buckeyes did just that. 

Naturally, Michigan players heard about this. It was an interesting season for Michigan. Lloyd Carr had replaced Gary Moeller as head coach, but Carr was only initially hired on an interim basis. The season started with a wild comeback win over Virginia on the game’s final play, but Carr’s team had been inconsistent. During the week of the game, Michigan tailback Tshimanga “Tim” Biakabutuka assured Carr that he had nothing to worry about; that the team would be ready for Ohio State when the game rolled around. 

Sometimes — most times — those assurances should be taken a fair amount of skepticism, but Biakabutuka was a man of his word. Biakabutuka shredded the Ohio State defense for 313 yards, and freshman defensive back Charles Woodson left his imprint on the Buckeyes with a pair of interceptions, with the final pick salting away a 31-23 win for Michigan. The victory didn’t help Michigan very much in the Alamo Bowl, where the Wolverines lost to Texas A&M. But history has largely forgotten about the low-level bowl game, while the win over Ohio State has become part of the lore of that series. 

Thanks to ABC Sports and youtube poster j bakkar. As always, we own nothing and do not profit from this blog post in any way. The content is provided strictly for the enjoyment of readers. 

Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1980

The fourth installment of this year’s series looking back. at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us back to 1980. The United States got a needed shot in the arm when the Men’s Olympic ice hockey team upset the Soviet Union and and went on to capture the Goal Medal at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. The Cable News Network, commonly known as CNN, started broadcasting on June. 1, and Rubik’s Cube debuted at a toy fair in London.

On the gridiron, Michigan got off to a slow start, losing two of its first three. The Wolverines violated Bo Schembechler’s rule not to let one loss become two, but once the calendar struck October, the Maize and Blue started to jell on both sides of the ball.

Michigan entered the annual clash with Ohio State with three consecutive shutouts on its resume, determined to repeat that outcome vs. the Scarlet and Gray. From the opening kickoff, the game had the feel of a classic defensive struggle, the kind of game that warmed Schembechler’s heart. Despite committing numerous mistakes, including three interceptions, a missed extra point, and a missed field goal, Michigan emerged with a 9-3 victory thanks largely to a defense that all but shut down the Buckeyes when it really mattered. Quarterback John Wangler connected with wide receiver Anthony Carter for the game’s lone touchdown, but the Buckeyes were threatening with less than a minute to go. On fourth down, Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter faded back to pass and never saw Michigan linebacker Bobby Thompson, who drilled him for the clinching sack, that gave the ball back to Wangler and the offense, who ran the clock out, giving Michigan the Big Ten championship and a perfect record in conference play.

On January 1, the Wolverines put an exclamation point on the season with a 23-6 win over Washington in the Rose Bowl, but it was that ferocious defensive performance in Columbus that gave the Maize and Blue the Big Ten title.

Thanks to youtube poster WolverineHistorian for the video. As always, we own nothing and do not profit in this blog post in any way. The content is provided strictly for the enjoyment of readers.

Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1973

The third installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan takes us back 45 years, to 1973, and one of the most intriguing games in the history of the series. 1973 was an interesting year on many fronts. There were still many elements of the 1960s present. The public watched nightly for information about the Watergate break-in. In January, President Nixon announced that an agreement had been reached to end the war in Vietnam and bring “peace with honor.” In July, a massive throng descended upon Watkins Glen, N.Y., to attend the Summer Jam, a concert featuring the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, and The Band. And drivers across the nation dealt with gas rationing, and long, long lines at gas stations. 

On the gridiron, Michigan and Ohio State were on a collision course since the beginning of the season. The two teams entered “The Game” with spotless records. Tensions were high at the very beginning, with Ohio State players tearing down the “Go Blue” banner that Michigan players traditionally ran under to enter the stadium. Ohio State dominated the scoring in the first half, though Michigan had a great return by Gil Chapman nullified by a penalty. In the second half, the momentum put a blue jersey, and Michigan tied the score when quarterback Dennis Franklin scored on a 10-yard run on option play in the fourth quarter, and the Wolverines were on fire.

Next, the Michigan defense stood tall, and forced a punt. On the ensuing possession, Franklin was hit hard by Ohio State defensive lineman Van DeCree, breaking Franklin’s collarbone. Michigan maneuvered into position for a 58-yard field goal attempt, but Mike Lantry’s kick sailed wide, and the Buckeyes took over with a little more than a minute remaining.

Needing points to win, Ohio State coach Woody Hayes sent in passing quarterback Greg Hare to jumpstart the Buckeye attack. Hare promptly threw an interception which Michigan junior DB Tom Drake returned to the Ohio State 33 yard line. Once again, Lantry trotted on for a field goal attempt, this one from 44 yards. Once again, the kick had the distance, but this time it was wide to the other side of the goalposts, and the game remained tied. Ohio State took over with one final chance for victory, and Hare threw three long incompletions, the last one landing far out of bounds, a rather anticlimactic conclusion to one of the most memorable games in the history of the sport.

The game ended in a tie, but the intrigue did not end. With Michigan having solidly outperformed Ohio State statistically, Michigan had gained 303 yards to 234 for Ohio State, and had earned 16 first downs to Ohio State’s nine. Virtually everyone expected the Big Ten Conference to send Michigan to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl, but in a controversial secret ballot, Ohio State was sent to the Rose Bowl, with Michigan fans claiming that Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke influenced the vote. Could athletic directors have been influenced by the fact that Franklin’s broken collarbone would prevent him from playing in the Rose Bowl? Could this Michigan team, finally built to beat a tough USC squad, beat the Trojans in the Rose Bowl? it was a definite possibility, but we’ll never know. Could Michigan have prevailed if coach Bo Schembechler had let Franklin throw more often to tight end Paul Seal, a matchup nightmare for any defense? Again, it’s very likely, but we’ll never know. 

Michigan finished the season with a record of 10-0-1, the same record as Ohio State, which defeated USC in the Rose Bowl but played fewer games in the regular season. The 1973 Michigan team remains one of the most underrated teams in school history, as the Wolverines dominated every opponent except Ohio State, and had tremendous talent in all three phases of the game. From a football standpoint, this game had a lot to offer, but it had plenty to offer outside of football, as well. Both teams started African-American quarterbacks in 1973, Cornelius Greene for Ohio State and Dennis Franklin for Michigan. This marked the first time in the history of the series that each team started a black quarterback. Placekicker Mike Lantry, such an integral part of the game, had served three tours of duty with the 82nd Airborne in Vietnam before enrolling at Michigan, which changed his perspective on the game, to say the least. 

Thanks to the Big Ten Network for the re-broadcast of the game in the link below. As always, we do not claim ownership of any kind and do not profit from this blog post in any way. This content is posted strictly for the enjoyment of readers. 

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.

Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1959

The first installment of this year’s series looking at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us back to 1959. As a general rule, the late ’50s were known as a booming period. The economy was booming, home purchases and migration to the suburbs were both booming, and finally, there was the baby boom. Things were looking good for many Americans, which often meant more leisure time.

In the fall, much of that leisure time was devoted to American football, which was growing rapidly at both the professional and collegiate levels. Unfortunately for Michigan fans and alums, the 1959 state had not been kind to the maize and blue. But the beauty of finishing the regular season with “The Game” is that there is always a chance for redemption. 

It’s worth noting that this series has a long history of first-year coaches winning their first game, and this proved to be true for Michigan’s Bump Elliott, as well. Three interceptions by an opportunistic Michigan defense prevented Ohio State from doing too much damage, but in second half, they still only trailed by six points.

Kicker Darrell Harper never achieved the fame of Phillip Brabbs, but his 19-yard field goal early in the final quarter gave the Wolverines all the cushion they needed, as they topped the Buckeyes, 23-14 in Bump’s first season as head coach. There was some controversy involved, as Ohio State recovered a Michigan fumble and returned the ball for what Ohio State thought was a touchdown, but the referees ruled the ball had been declared dead, awarding the ball to Ohio State, but nullifying the return. 

The video below is hard to follow, but it does provide some “feel” for the game. Thanks to youtube poster polaarbear for the video. As always, we own nothing, and do not profit from this blogpost or the use of the video. This content is strictly for the enjoyment of readers.