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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Top Ten Victories in the Lloyd Carr Era: #4 & #5

Recently, we started counting down the Top Ten Victories 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
8. 1995 #18 Michigan 31, #2 Ohio State 23
7. 2003 #20 Michigan 38, #17 Minnesota 35
6. 1998 Rose Bowl #1 Michigan 21, #8 Washington State 16

Which brings us up to...

5. 2006 #11 Michigan 47, #2 Notre Dame 21

What happened: Notre Dame was coming off a thrashing of a ranked Penn State team, U-M had looked unimpressive in victories over Central Michigan and Vandy. But Michigan jumped out to a 34-7 lead in South Bend and never looked back. While everybody seems to remember Mario Manningham's three TD receptions, this was a team highlight reel: Hart rushed for 124 yards and a TD, Prescott Burgess intercepted two passes with one going for a TD, LaMarr Woodley returned a fumble 54 yards for a TD, Leon Hall picked off a pass, etc., etc., etc.

Why it made the list: Forget for a second how the season ended for both Michigan and Notre Dame and try to remember the circumstances surrounding this game when it was played. Michigan had lost three in a row at Notre Dame Stadium (their last victory in South Bend was in 1994) and was suffering through a six game skid in road openers. Nobody was giving Michigan much of a chance in this one and many were talking blowout -- with Michigan being the blowee. Also, after the disappointing 7-5 mark during the 2005 season, many were saying Michigan had fallen from the elite college football programs. While nobody around the Schembechler Hall would have admitted it out loud, Michigan desperately needed the "W"...and got it in a big way. The victory ended talk of Michigan's decline and vaulted the Wolverines into the national title hunt, a chase they were in all the way up until the final moments of the Ohio State game. Furthermore, after Lloyd shook up his staff following 2005, the win proved there was a new philosophy (and hunger) in A2 on both sides of the ball.

4. #21 Michigan 13, #2 Ohio State 9

What happened: Ohio State had dominated the game but only led 9-0 early in the third quarter on three FGs. Then everything changed with one play: he slipped. Shawn Springs slipped. On what should have been just a potential first down slant play over the middle in the third quarter, All-American DB Shawn Springs slipped covering a pass from Brian Griese to Tai Streets. And instead of merely a first down (or incomplete pass) the result was a long TD that made it 9-7. To say momentum shifted is an understatement. One could almost feel the collective noose tighten the entire Buckeye squad, their coach and fans as if everybody was thinking, "No, it can't be happening again!" Michigan took the lead for the first time (and for good) with a FG on the last play of the third quarter (HT: MS). They added one more in the 4th and the defense held on as the U-M defense shut down the #2 team in the country on the road.

Why it made the list: This was the second year in a row Ohio State was coming into The Game undefeated and #2 in the country. After Michigan's upset in A2 in '95 during Carr's first season at the helm, the Bucks were out for revenge in '96. And with the game at OSU, it seemed they just might get it. Furthermore, Michigan was stumbling into Columbus. Just two weeks prior, Michigan was 7-1 and #9 in the country. But they lost back-to-back games. First an ugly 9-3 setback to unranked Purdue which is "best" remembered by Michigan fans for Lloyd's Mike Ditka impression when he tried to have 290 pound DT William Carr do his William "The Refrigerator" Perry impression and try to carry the ball on (I believe) first and goal from inside the 5 yard line with under a minute left in the first half. Carr fumbled, Michigan ended up losing. U-M followed that up with a 29-17 pasting at the hands of #11 Penn State at home. So the mood of the Michigan faithful heading into C-bus was not good. And the team couldn't have been too positive either. But strange and wondrous things happened to Michigan when playing Ohio State during the John Cooper Era (aka The Golden Age as far as Michigan fans are concerned). The stunning victory kept the Bucks from a national title and preserved Michigan's recent dominance over THE Ohio State University. Amazing how beating your arch rival and ruining their title hopes can put a shine on an otherwise disappointing season.


Peter said...

The TD didn't put us in the lead; we were down 9-0 and then were down 9-7. Two more FG's after that.

Jim Harbaugh Scramble said...

Is there going to be a bottom ten for the top Mich debacles and losses under carr? That would be an imprssive list: the bizarre losses at oregon and washington, the A-train fumble in the shoot out at NW, the inability to stop vince young, the extra second at MSU, the carlyle holiday phantom TD at ND...
On second thought maybe that list needs to be longer than ten because i thought of those w/o any research.

Anways great blog guys keep up the good work and go blue!

Anonymous said...

...Illinois' come from behind victory at the Big House. Minnesota's last second run setting up the GW FG. There sure are a lot of messed up losses that's for sure.

Go Blue Gabe said...

Ahhhhhhhhhh, the good old days.

John said...

don't forget to watch Dateline: To Catch a Michigan Predator tonight on NBC. Watch a michigan fan get tackled harder than mike hart at the 'shoe. Both try to score, both get their chops busted

Peter said...

Mike Hart did quite well. He did score, and gained quite a few yards. Ohio State did win that game, but unfortunately for your analogy the Michigan offense still played well...

Scott said...

the fact that ND was vastly overrated going into the game last year makes that win much more unimpressive, certainly not worthy of a top 5 spot. and throwing out the disclaimer of "forget where they both ended up at the end of the year" doesn't make it any better.