THE GAME- Looking Back 1997

It’s Thanksgiving, and as one writer friend notes, it’s very good to have “an attitude of gratitude.” We all have plenty to be thankful for in life, and this is a good opportunity to remember that.

For the fifth installment of the Michigan-Ohio State, we go back 15 years to 1997, right in the heart of then-President Bill Clinton’s second term in the Oval Office. The economy was roaring, but the Michigan Wolverines entered that season with plenty of doubts regarding their talents. There were quiet rumblings that “The Block M stood for mediocrity.” Quietly, Michigan vowed not to let the ’97 campaign turn out the way that previous seasons had finished. Through the first 10 games, everything went according to Michigan’s blueprint, but the 11th game was against a highly motivated group from Ohio State. After a scoreless stalemate in the first quarter, Michigan broke through when freshman Anthony Thomas scored on a run up the middle. A few minutes later, Charles Woodson used a couple of good blocks to scamper down the far sideline. Michigan led at the half, 13-0.

The third quarter started out with Michigan scoring on an Andre Weathers, giving the Wolverines a commanding 20-0 lead. But Ohio State wasn’t about to go quietly into the night. The Bucks stormed back with a pair of touchdowns, the first coming when quarterback Joe Germaine connected with David Boston, and the second coming after linebacker Jerry Rudzinski forced a fumble from Michigan quarterback Brian Griese. With the Wolverines ahead by only six points, Michigan fans held their collective breath, but the Michigan defense held the lead, punctuated by Marcus Ray’s bruising hit on Boston that swung the pendulum of momentum back in Michigan’s direction. The Wolverines held on to win, 20-14, and went on to defeat Washington State in the Rose Bowl, completing Michigan’s first perfect season in decades and giving Michigan a share of the National Championship in the season before the Bowl Championship Series was introduced.

Once again, thanks to Brian Cook of mgovideo & mgoblog, as well as to color commentator Bob Griese, and venerable play-by-play man Keith Jackson, who provided the heart and soul of college football for viewers everywhere for several decades.