Michigan Football vs Michigan State — Looking Back — 1980

The first installment of the series looking back at the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back to 1980. The world we lived in was smaller and slower in 1980, and in many parts of the country, people were just discovering cable television. In Ann Arbor, the Wolverines had a new star in place kicker Ali Haji-Sheik. Haji-Sheik had been born in Ann Arbor, but he was raised in Texas, far from chilly fall afternoons in the Big Ten. And yes, the Wolverines also had a coach named Bo Schembechler, who possessed a pretty astute football mind, and maybe even more important, a tremendous football instinct.

After splitting their first four games, the Wolverines were 2-2, and their season could have gone either way. A loss to Michigan State could easily send the Michigan season spiraling downward, while a win could propel the Maize and Blue on a path toward the Big Ten championship. Enter Bo and his legendary instinct. With the score tied 13-13, Haji-Sheikh connected on a field goal, but Michigan State was called for roughing the kicker. With a considerable amount riding on his decision, Bo strayed from the conventional wisdom that you don’t take points off the scoreboard and opted to take the penalty instead, putting his faith in the Michigan offense. Quarterback John Wangler and wide receiver Anthony Carter rewarded that confidence when they connected for a go-ahead touchdown, and the Wolverines went on to top the Spartans, 27-23.

That win over Michigan State helped the Wolverines put a maize & blue stamp on the rest of the season, as they won the rest of their games, capturing the Big Ten championship and topping the Washington Huskies in the Rose Bowl, 23-6. Michigan finished the season with a record of 10 wind and 2 losses, ranked No. 4 in both the coaches poll and the AP poll.

Out thanks to ON TV Sports and youtube poster WolverineHistorian for the video below. As always, we own nothing and do not profit from this blog post.

Michigan Football vs Michigan State — Looking Back — 1979

The third installment of the series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us to 1979. The Wolverines finished 8-4 that year, which was odd, given the fact that their roster included linebackers Ron Simpkins, Andy Cannavino and Mel Owen, receivers Ralph Clayton and Anthony Carter, and running backs Butch Woolfolk and Stan Edwards, whose sons later played at Michigan. Some of our younger readers might remember Edwards’ son, Braylon, who could play some wide receiver.

In the late ‘70s, the spread offense had yet to arrive in Big Ten football, so both teams spent much of the day operating out of the I formation, literally banging heads. In the second quarter, Woolfork scored from two yards out on a sweep to give Michigan the lead. It stayed that way into the third quarter, when Derek Hughes scored from six yards out to tie the score, 7-7. At that point, the Wolverines seized control of the game, going 80 yards in five plays, 66 of them coming on a 66-yard scoring pass from B.J. Dickey to Clayton. After that, the Wolverines were in the driver’s seat, and they put the game away when Dickey connected with Carter for a 6-yard touchdown that made the final score 21-7.

Sadly, that was the high point of Michigan’s season. The Wolverines finished with the three consecutive losses, Simpkins and defensive end Curtis Greer were named the All-America team, and the Wolverines easily reloaded for the 1978 season.

Thanks to ABC Spots and YouTube poster Wolverine Historian. As always, we own nothing, and this blog and video are strictly for the enjoyment of viewers.