Michigan vs Ohio State Football – Looking Back – 1997

The fifth and final installment of the series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State takes us back 20 years, to 1997. The economy was roaring, the world was starting to take an interest in this new thing called the Internet, and Michigan entered the season facing arguably the toughest schedule in the country, while critics snickered not so quietly that the Block M stood for mediocrity.

The good news is that everyone in Maize and Blue heard that criticism, and by the beginning of the season, they were seething with anger, and they were absolutely determined to prove their critics wrong. Lloyd Carr, who proved to the best master motivator in 1997, had just finished reading “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, a book about a harrowing ascent of Mount Everest in the most dangerous storm in the history of Mount Everest climbs. Carr found out that Lou Kasischke, a member of the climbing party, lived nearby, and he persuaded Kasischke to talk to the Michigan team about the challenges he faced while climbing Everest.

Michigan entered the game with a perfect record, while Ohio State entered with the perfect opportunity for revenge. The last two seasons, Michigan had ruined perfect seasons for the Buckeyes by upsetting Ohio State. Throw in the fact that Ohio State wide receiver David Boston had taken a potshot at Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson in the media, and it’s easy to see why there was so much tension in the pre-game build-up.

Midway through the second quarter, the game was locked in a scoreless tie when Michigan quarterback Brian Griese found Woodson on a post-pattern for a 37-yard gain. Two plays later, freshman Anthony Thomas crossed the goal line to give Michigan the lead. By the middle of the third quarter, the Wolverines had extended that lead to 20-0. That’s when things got a little bit nerve-wracking. Boston finally beat Woodson for a touchdown, and then OSU linebacker Jerry Rudzinski forced a fumble from Griese, and all of a sudden, Michigan’s lead was down to 20-14. That’s when every Michigan fans started to sweat during a game in which the temperature was in the low 20s.

Fortunately for Michigan, the defense stood tall at the most critical moments, and a huge hit by Marcus Ray on Boston changed the momentum. Just a few minutes later, Michigan’s defense had held, and Griese took the snap and ran out the clock.  The final score was Michigan 20, Ohio State 14. The win gave Michigan the Big Ten championship with an 11-0 record, and Michigan went to the Rose Bowl, where the Wolverines topped Washington State to finish the perfect season and capture the Associated Press National Championship.

In my 54 years, that was the biggest Michigan-Ohio State game of them all, and I doubt I’ll see any victory bigger than that one in my lifetime. That win serves as the bar for every Michigan win over Ohio State.

Thanks to ABC Sports and YouTube posters Stephen Barnett and Dr. Sap. As always, we own nothing, and this blog and video are posted strictly for the enjoyment of readers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuJs0Cohmjg

16 is the answer to life the universe and everything (for 2012) Denard Robinson

Denard Robinson holds the key to success this season

With apologies to Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the answer to the meaning of life the universe and everything is not 42.

It’s 16.

At least that’s the answer for Michigan Wolverine fans this season.

After weeks of breaking down game tape  and evaluating the incoming football roster for the upcoming season, I have reached the following conclusion:

It’s all about Denard Xavier Robinson.

Of course, he needs no introduction. Since he grabbed hold of the starting QB position two seasons ago amid the implosion of Tate Forcier he’s taken Wolverine fans on a wild ride. From the 2010 Notre Dame game where he gained 258 yards while announcing his entry into the Heisman Trophy race, to last season’s improbable last minute comeback, again against the irish, to lead the Wolverines to victory in the first night game in history of The Big House- Denard is the spark plug that makes the Big Blue Machine go.

Denard Robinson Photo Gallery

In fact last season’s 11-2 record might be the most damning indictment of former coach Rich Rodriguez and his gang who-couldn’t-shoot-straight defensive coaches. With Denard in full Heisman mode in 201o, the team barely squeaked into a bowl game beating. This past season a more restrained Denard Robinson under Brady Hoke and a rejuvenated Greg Mattison coached defense gave a Wolverine fans a taste of what’s possible.

For the next three months, fans will debate who will snap the ball, who will block and who will catch the ball for the Wolverines. We’ll agonize over every rumor while fretting over the the defensive line and backfield depth charts.

I’ve seen Anthony Carter electrify Michigan Stadium. I’ve seen Desmond Howard dominate the Buckeyes and break into his Heisman pose. I was there when Tim Biakabutuka ran for 313 against the Buckeyes. I was at Penn State when the mere appearance of Charles Woodson in the Wolverine offense made the Nittany Lions panic like a second rate junior varsity squad. I saw Braylon Edwards dominate Michigan State in the famous triple overtime game.

I’ve experienced all these great performances and many more (even some by opponents; Donovan McNabb, Dennis Dixon, and Troy Smith to name a few) but the game-in and game-out electricity of Denard Robinson trumps them all.

Last year my analysis told me the we were looking at a 8-4, 9-3 regular season. In retrospect, a few less distractions at Michigan State, a few calls breaking our way against Iowa and…which brings us to this season.

There’s three months to fill before the Wolverines play in Dallas.

We’ll hear the clowns at ESPN debate whether Denard should demand to play wide receiver!

We’ll talk about why it took 18 months for the Athletic Department and the band to figure out travel arrangements for the Cowboy Classic.

We can question if “The Brand, The Brand, Brand(on),” has replaced the “The Team, The Team, The Team!”

But there’s really only question that matters when the Wolverines take the field in Dallas against Alabama to start the season.

Where’s number 16?