The third installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us to 1990. The United States sent troops to Kuwait as part of Operation Desert Shield, and on TV, “The Simpsons” aired for the first time. On the gridiron, Michigan’s game with Michigan State was billed as “No. One vs. No one” despite the fact that the Wolverines had started the season with a loss to Notre Dame. But since that loss, the Wolverines had won three in a row, and they were rolling. Unfortunately, this series has a long history of odd bounces.
Michigan State had played Michigan tough all game, but the Wolverines had found a way to “gut” their way back into the game, on a day when things just weren’t going their way. When Elvis Grbac connected with Derrick Alexander, it left Michigan trailing by just one point, 28-27, and first-year coach Gary Moeller courageously decided to go for two points and the win. That’s when Eddie Brown became one of the great villains in the history of Michigan football.
To be fair, Brown had the smarts to take a calculated risk. Seeing Grbac standing in the pocket with Michigan playmaker Desmond Howard headed for the end zone, Brown knew he had a challenging situation on his hands. If Howard got the ball in his hands, Michigan would almost certainly win the game. So Brown made the only logical decision: He tripped Howard.
The play unfolded in a sort of surreal manner. For a millisecond, it appeared that Howard had the ball, and a comeback victory, in his grasp. But just as Michigan fans started to jump in exultation, the ball fell away, and the Spartans wound up celebrating.
For his part, Brown was grateful his teammates mobbed him, and asked them to get him off the field as quickly as possible, well aware that he’d gotten away with the trip. Michigan fans and alumni around the globe were dazed by the result.
In the end, Michigan bounced back, and routed Ole Miss in the Gator Bowl, 35-3. But that game against the greenies from East Lansing still won’t fade into the recesses of football memories.
Thanks to youtube poster Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis for the video clip below. As always, we own nothing and do not profit from this blog post in any way, it is strictly for the enjoyment of the readers of umgoblue.com.