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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Top Ten Victories in the Carr Era: #10-#6

Yesterday, we started counting down the Top Ten wins in the Lloyd Carr Era

As mentioned, what makes a win "great" is a subjective thing. But Benny and I based our decision on a combination of factors including importance for the program, season impact, intangibles, who the opponent was (let's face it, a thriller against highly ranked arch rival Ohio State is always a candidate) and just the plain ol' excitement factor of the game.

To recap...

10. 1995 #14 Michigan 18, #17 Virginia 17

9. 1999 #16 Michigan 31, #6 Penn State 27

Moving on...

8. 1995 #18 Michigan 31, #2 Ohio State 23

What happened: After starting the season 7-1, Michigan dropped two out of their next three - a heartbreaker at MSU and a 27-17 loss at Penn State. And things didn't look like they'd be getting better with Ohio State coming to Ann Arbor for the season finale, bringing an undefeated record and #2 ranking along with Heisman trophy winner, Eddie George. But in one of the greatest individual displays in the history of the M-OSU rivalry, it was Wolverine RB Tim Biakabatuka - not George - who ran wild, rushing for 312 yards in the Michigan victory.

Why it made the list: Michigan was reeling. After the strong start, the season was teetering on the brink. And here came Ohio State playing for a shot at a national title and to assert itself after struggling in the years since John Cooper took over in 1988. A win could have turned the tide for John Cooper, dealt a big blow to the Wolverine program and Carr following the quick start. Instead, Michigan continued its dominance in the series during the Cooper years.

7. 2003 #20 Michigan 38, #17 Minnesota 35

What happened: In the greatest comeback in school history, QB John Navarre led the Wolverines to a stirring victory after being down 28-7 in the 3rd quarter. The Wolverines scored 31 points in the 4th quarter with freshman Garret Rivas' 33 yarder with 47 seconds left providing the winning margin.

Why it made the list: The team never quit. After being down 21 points in the 3rd, Michigan cut the lead to 28-21 early in the 4th...only to see Minnesota break off a long run on a short-yardage play to reclaim a 14 point lead. But the Wolverines just kept fighting. And when Rivas' kick went through, from a psychological standpoint, Michigan knew it could come back from any deficit.

The win was also huge for the psyche of oft-maligned senior QB John Navarre. For whatever reason, the Michigan faithful never warmed up to a kid who unfortunately had to step into the starting position a year before he was ready due to the sudden departure of Drew "Dead to me" Henson. This was the game he needed to prove he could win a big game and not just put up numbers, or make it "close" in a losing effort as he'd done earlier in the season on the road at Oregon.

The win also kept Michigan in the hunt for the Big 10 title and a Rose Bowl berth, something they accomplished with their 35-21 victory over the Bucks at the end of the year, Michigan's (sigh) last in the series.

Finally, what a game! And it was for the oldest trophy in college football, the Little Brown Jug.

6. 1998 Rose Bowl #1 Michigan 21, #8 Washington State 16

What happened: Down 7-0 early, the Cougars were driving to make it 14-0 when Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson picked off a Ryan Leaf pass in the endzone. The Wolverines knotted the game at 7 at the half, fell behind again in the third, before retaking the lead for good and holding on at the end. With the comeback victory, Michigan claimed its first National Championship in 50 years, a title that ended up being split when the coaches gave the other half to Tom Osborne as a retirement gift instead of a watch.

Misc. tidbit: Wazoo fans were hopping mad, believing Ryan Leaf had stopped the clock with a second left on the Michigan 16 yard line, which would have given the Cougs a final play and shot at victory. However, while pissed about that call, they all seem to forget a play or two before, when one of their receivers flat-out tackled Charles Woodson to prevent him from intercepting a poorly thrown Leaf pass. If the offensive PI is (rightfully) called, the last second stuff is a moot point.

Why it made the list: The surprise here isn't that this game made the list. Instead, we're guessing many will be wondering why it wasn't higher as it brought a piece of the MNC home to A2 for the first time since right after WWII. But, coming off four consecutive four loss seasons, getting here was actually more important than winning. Michigan proved it was still an elite program. And before the victory in Pasadena, Michigan actually beat a couple tougher teams. One could tell Michigan was feeling the pressure in the way the game started. But, as they had all season, they sucked it up and pulled out the "W," capping a perfect - and storybook - season.


Jeremy said...

Biakabutuka rushed for 313 yards, guys. Yes this matters. Every glorious yard counts.

clemsontiger said...

Although this has nothing to do with Michigan victories I would like you guys to see this. As you know I am a Clemson Alum from the UP of Michigan. I am a Tiger through and through although I am beginning to doubt what the hell is in the water down there after reading this story and seeing the pictures. The first picture is rather telling. Rather noteworthy is the very well placed MICHIGAN on the sweatpants of the student to the left. A disgrace to all Clemson fans and Alums everywhere.


Reed said...

That Minnesota comeback was huge. A loss would have dropped Michigan to 1-2 in the conference and given them three losses in their last four games. They went on to win the next five games and go to the Rose Bowl. And Navarre put the team on his back in that game.

Re: The Rose Bowl clock. I was at the game and remembered thinking, "They're not going to try to spike this, are they?" The clock showed 2 seconds which really means anywhere from 1.01 to 2.00 seconds. A spike play ALWAYS takes two seconds to run, and that assumes that they can snap the ball as soon as the game clock starts (technically impossible because they can't snap before the ref blows his whistle, but the clock starts on the "t" in "tweet"). Second dumbest move of Mike Price's career...

Wolverindy said...

Foolishly, I bet hundreds of dollars that I couldn't afford on my beloved Wolverines in that Minny game (they were GIVING us points!).
I think I almost had a heart attack.
Needless to say, I haven't bet on a Michigan football game ever since. There's already WAY too much stress without getitng money involved!

Chadwick said...

I miss the days of ruining Ohio State’s undefeated seasons.

Mathew said...

You forgot to mention the greatest part of the Minnesota win: Navarre's heavy footed rumble for a TD. Still one of the greatest plays I've ever witnessed.

Out of Conference said...

Clemsontiger - You probably have more insight into that incident than I do, but from what I read in the local press (Greenville News), it sounds like members of a predominantly black Clemson fraternity also attended and had a good time. Did some of the attendees of that party enjoy themselves a little too much because of the racism, undoubtedly yes, but others very likely saw it as an innocent outlet for a party. When I was in college, my fraternity had a "Yo PiKapp Raps" party (circa 1990) as a nod to the then-MTV TV show, "Yo MTV Raps". We had a great time, several members of minority groups attended (including those in our fraternity), and no one on campus had a problem with it- and out fraternity house was next door to the police substation.

So the party in Clemson, Poor taste: Yes. Bored students trying to be creative and funny: Probably. Pure hate by white supremacists: Very, very doubtful.

clemsontiger said...

Not hateful but in very bad taste. Definitely. outofconference you are dead on on that assessment.

Markus Arelius said...

What about the 38-0 shellacking of Notre Dame?

God,that was cathartic...

Go Blue Gabe said...

I'm glad to see that there is someone else out there still pissed at Drew Henson.