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.

THE GAME- Looking Back 1950 (Snow Bowl)

The fourth installment of Michigan-Ohio State week takes us all the way back to 1950. Today, even the most casual of fans knows obscure statistics, largely because of the advent of fantasy football. Go on. Admit it. I see you smiling over there. Yes, you, the person checking this story on his smart phone. You’re blushing, because you know your stats cold.

Well, cold is exactly how the stats were served at the 1950 game between Michigan and Ohio State. The night before the game, a freak blizzard dumped more than a foot of fresh snow on Ohio Stadium, and volunteers worked through the night to make the field playable for the game. When the decision was made to play the game, the two teams played hot potato with the ball, combining for a record 45 punts, including 24 alone by Michigan’s Chuck Ortmann. But Ortmann would be the first to tell you that he couldn’t have done it without Carl Kreager.

Who’s Carl Kreager, you ask? Well, long snappers have never gotten their due in football, but for this game, Kreager deserved to make the All-America team. In a blinding snowstorm, Kreager delivered 24 perfect long snaps to Ortmann; an impressive feat under ideal conditions. Late in the second quarter, Michigan blocked an Ohio State punt, and Tony Momsen fell on the ball in the end zone for the game’s only touchdown. Michigan went on to win, 9-3, without registering one first down for the entire game.

THE GAME- Looking Back 1973

The third installment of Michigan-Ohio State week takes us back to 1973. By this time, the decade of the ’70s had established its own feel, slightly different from that of the ’60s. Motorists waited in odd/even lines for gas (hmm….sounds vaguely familiar), and on Nov. 24, 1973, the Carpenters ruled the airwaves with “Top of the World.”

In the Big Ten, the two old rivals were on top of the world that day, as both teams entered the ’73 game with perfect record. Ohio State grabbed a 10-0 halftime lead as two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin twisted and and spun his way on a long run during an Ohio State touchdown drive. In the second half, Michigan had the better of the action, and with the Wolverines facing a critical play, quarterback Dennis Franklin faked a handoff to fullback Ed Shuttlesworth and kept the ball himself on an option, scoring to tie the game, 10-10. Later in the game, Michigan kicker Mike Lantry missed a 58-yard field goal, but Lantry got a second chance when Ohio State quarterback Greg Hare was intercepted by Tom Drake, giving Lantry another shot. This time, Lantry’s kick was wide right instead, giving Ohio State the ball one final time. On the final play, Greg Hare lofted a pass into the air, and before it hit the ground, a record 43 people touched the ball, including a few stragglers who who wandered onto the field from section 3, before the ball fell harmlessly to the ground.The game ended in a 10-10 tie, with Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin leaving the game due to an injury he suffered on a possession following Michigan’s touchdown.

In the controversial aftermath, Big Ten athletic directors voted 6-4 to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl, with rumors swirling that Michigan State voted for Ohio State in retaliation for Michigan voting against Michigan State’s admittance to the Big Ten in 1949. Ohio State went on to trounce USC in the Rose Bowl, 42-21, as both Ohio State and Michigan finished the season undefeated.

Here it is is, in two parts, but in all its glory, thanks to our friend Brian Cook at mgovideo. Sit back and enjoy!

 

THE GAME- Looking Back 1964

For the second installment of the Michigan-Ohio State week, we’ll go back to 1964.

With Woody Hayes at the helm, Ohio State dominated the rivalry from 1954 to 1968, but in 1964, Michigan only fell once, in a 1-point loss at home to Purdue. On November 21, the Wolverines traveled to Columbus, and in the second quarter, they pounced on the ball when Ohio State fumbled a punt. Two plays later, Bob Timberlake found Jim Detwiler on a crossing pattern for a touchdown, and the Michigan defense made it stand up with a 10-0 win over the Buckeyes.

Michigan went on to the Rose Bowl, where the Wolverines topped Oregon State, 34-7. The video comes to us courtesy of YouTube subscriber Wolverine Historian, who has posted numerous videos spanning a period of more than 60 years. Filmed in vintage black & white, a real treasure for those of us who grew up in the Baby Boom era. Enjoy!

THE GAME- Looking Back 1972

Anyone who knows me is aware that I post a number of classic games between Michigan and Ohio State during the week leading up to “The Game.” I’ll start this week off with equal time for the Buckeyes, who prevailed in the 1972 classic, 14-11, a mere 40 years ago.

The video comes from the folks at OurHonorDefend.com, and while they root for a different team that I do, I have to give them credit for posting a lot of great videos of classic games. They correctly note that Mike Lantry missed a field goal in this game, and he went on to miss important kicks in the succeeding two games between Michigan and Ohio State, but I’d point out the Football News named him to its All-America team in 1973, and also that he lettered for UM three times in the shot put, all of this after fighting in the Vietnam War. Enjoy!