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 vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1978

The fourth installment of the series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us to 1978. This was an unusual time in America, and particularly in southeastern Michigan. The automobile industry was undergoing changes and facing significant competition from foreign manufacturers. People wanted desperately to feel optimistic, but there was an uneasy sense in the nation. For Michigan students, alumni, and fans, the UM football team provided a temporary escape from their concerns.

While head coach Bo Schembechler always preached the importance of focusing on the team, there’s no denying the fact that quarterback Rick Leach was the face of those Michigan teams from 1976 through 1978. Sure, Michigan boasted its usual staunch defense and pulverizing offensive line, but Leach grabbed most of the headlines as he slashed his way through defenses. In 1978, Leach led Michigan back to Ohio Stadium, where the Maize and Blue had routed the Buckeyes two years earlier. This time, it would be a little more challenging. Michigan running back Harlan Huckleby didn’t play and fullback Russell Davis was sick. Compounding that was the fact that Leach pulled a hamstring in the second quarter. So, how did Leach respond? He threw a pair of touchdown passes, one for 30 yards to Rodney Feaster and one for 11 yards to Roosevelt Smith, to lead the Wolverines to a 14-3 win over their rivals from Columbus.

Still, any report on this game would be remiss if it didn’t mention the Michigan defense. The Wolverines held the Buckeyes to just 48 passing yards, and Michigan’s third down efficiency was impressive, to say the least. Michigan allowed Ohio State to convert only four of 16 third down opportunities, ushering the Buckeye offense off the field swiftly. Linebacker Ron Simpkins led the Wolverines with 15 total tackles, and middle guard Mike Trgovac had two tackles for loss.

The win marked Michigan’s third consecutive triumph over Ohio State, and it was the 10th and final game between Bo and Ohio State coach Woody Hayes. The series continued to be intense in subsequent years, but it lacked the galvanizing coaching personalities that marked that 10-year period, which many consider to be the height of the rivalry.

Thanks, as always, to ABC Sports, and to YouTube posters WolverineHistorian and Dr. Sap. I own nothing and this blog and the accompanying videos are posted strictly for the enjoyment of readers.

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.


Michigan vs Michigan State Football – Looking Back – 1989

The third installment of the Michigan-Michigan State series takes us back to 1989. It was Bo Schembechler’s last season as Michigan head coach, and it began with a loss to Notre Dame and ended with a loss to USC in the Rose Bowl. Sandwiched in between those losses were 10 victories, marked by old school, Schembechler power football. The game against Michigan State was no different, and the 10-7 score is evidence of the hard-nosed, helmet-rattling sort of football that Bo loved.

One of the challenges for the Maize & Blue was that George Perles, who had made his name as the defensive line coach for the great Pittsburgh Steeler teams of the 1970s, coached the 1989 Michigan State team. The game pitted a veteran offensive line guru (Bo) vs. a veteran defensive line guru, in Perles. As you can guess, style points didn’t matter in that sort of game, and it meant that every detail became that much more important. Michigan blocked a field goal, and the Michigan running game finally got rolling when Tony Boles used his shiftiness to loosen up the Spartan defense. Still, the Michigan State defense stiffened after Michigan got a first down at the Spartan 4-yard line. Suddenly, Michigan was facing 4th down and goal to go inside the State 1 yard line. With the Wolverines lined up in a wishbone formation, Leroy Hoard got the ball and burst through a hole on the right side of the offensive line to give Michigan a hard-earned lead. Michigan continued to alternate between Hoard and Boles, and the Wolverines’ offensive line began to push the Spartans back consistently, setting up a 35-yard field goal by J.D. Carlson.

In the fourth quarter, State threatened to put a green tint on the game, but the Michigan defense wasn’t having any of it. Tripp Welborne stopped Blake Ezor at the goal line, as Michigan completed a classic goal line stand. With less than five minutes remaining in the game, Spartan QB Hyland Hickson found Courtney Hawkins just over the goal line, and Michigan’s lead was trimmed to three points. With seconds remaining, the Michigan defense stood tall, as Lance Dottin intercepted a pass by Dan Enos to foil the final Spartan threat.

The win capped a 17-4 lifetime record for Bo against the Spartans. Not bad for a coach who lost his inaugural game in the rivalry.

Thanks to youtube poster WolverineHistorian and ABC Sports for the broadcast clip. As always, I own nothing and this is presented strictly for the enjoyment of our readers.