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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday History Lesson - UM vs. OSU 1971

Ed. Note: Due to work stuff, I didn't get to all my email over the weekend. Which is a shame. Because sitting in my inbox was the brilliant post below by MZone reader and former U-M wrestling captain Matthew Stout. He had one planned for each of of this week leading up to The Game. Since I'm already a day behind, I'll put two up today.

1971…Taylor’s Touchdown Trumps Woody’s Rampage…

The year was 1971. Where were you? Richard Nixon was in his first term as President and his staff was busy figuring out how to guarantee that he would be re-elected for a second term. At any cost. U.S. troops were beginning to head home from the Vietnam War as the single greatest military disaster in American history was finally on the downside. Simon and Garfunkle were winning a Grammy for “Bridge Over Troubled Water” while John Lennon was topping the charts with “Imagine.” “Patton” was winning seven Oscars at the Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. Matt Stout was only two months old but already tossing a mini Ohio State football out of his crib as he muttered something that sounded a lot like “Go Blue!” Not surprisingly, his rapid Buckeye fan parents were already looking into psychological counseling. And the Wolverines were about to escape with a victory on Canham’s Carpet at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan entered the game unbeaten at 10-0 and ranked 3rd in the nation. The Wolverines had raced through the first ten games of the season under third year coach Glenn “Bo” Schembechler, routing seven of their opponents by 28 points or more. A punishing running game, lead by the legs of All-American tailback Billy Taylor and the blocking of All-American guard Reggie McKenzie, paced the Michigan offensive attack. On defense, All-Americas Mike Taylor and Thom Darden led a unit that had yielded more than seven points in only two games all season.

Ohio State came to Ann Arbor ranked 9th in the country and with a 6-3 mark under coach Wayne Woodrow Hayes, who was starting his third decade at the helm in Columbus. After the graduation of the “Super Sophs” class that had won the 1968 national championship and three Big Ten titles, the Buckeyes had struggled with new players at several key positions on both sides of the ball, especially on offense. Ohio had managed just 10 points in conference losses to Michigan St. and Northwestern while also falling to non-conference foe Colorado in the second game of the season.

With a 7-0 mark in the conference, Michigan had wrapped up the outright Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Still, Hayes’ troops smelled upset as they took to the turf on a cold and rainy day at Michigan Stadium. Through 57 minutes, it looked like Ohio might make that upset reality in the 68th edition of The Game.

The first half saw Michigan put the only points on the scoreboard with a 28-yard field goal by Dana Coin, as the Wolverines took a 3-0 lead into the dressing room for the intermission.

Midway through the third quarter, the momentum shifted to Ohio as Buckeye Tom Campana stunned the Wolverines with an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown. The touchdown, which stood as the longest punt return touchdown in The Game until 1991, gave Ohio a 7-3 advantage and silenced a shell-shocked Michigan Stadium crowd.

Ohio took the 7-3 advantage into the fourth quarter, and with Michigan starting quarterback Tom Slade on the bench with an injury, it appeared that the Campana touchdown might be enough to ruin Michigan’s hope for a perfect season.

But with just over seven minutes remaining in The Game, Michigan took the ball at their own 28-yard line and began a methodic march down the field. Multiple runs by Taylor, a surprising 22-yard pass play from back-up quarterback Larry Cipa to Bo Rather, and a key 4th and 1 conversion by back-up fullback Fritz Seyferth put the pigskin at the Ohio 21.

Two and one-half minutes remained as Michigan faced 1st and 10 with their perfect season hanging in the balance. The call was to the All-America Taylor. The result was a 21-yard touchdown and pure bedlam in The Big House. Legendary Michigan Broadcaster Bob Ufer called it like this…

“Cipa rolls out to the right. Pitches off to Taylor. Taylor’s to the 20, down to the 15, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, touchdown Billy Taylor! Touchdown Billy Taylor! Billy Taylor scored the touchdown...from 21 yards out! The crowd goes berserk!”

With less than two minutes to play, Ohio took the football after the Michigan touchdown with hopes of still pulling the upset. But the Buckeye rally was short-lived. Darden reached over Ohio’s Dick Wakefield to intercept a Don Lamka pass at the Michigan 32, and seal the Wolverine victory. The interception was a spectacular play in the eyes of those on the Michigan sideline. To Woody Hayes, it was the worst non-pass interference call college football had ever seen.

Hayes stormed the field, screaming at officials like a little kid robbed of his candy at a candy store. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Ohio followed.

Hayes wasn’t finished though. After the Buckeyes picked up another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty two plays later for unnecessary roughness, Hayes stormed the field once again. This time, Hayes grabbed the down marker and threw it like a javelin on to the Michigan Stadium turf. He then grabbed the first down marker and tore it into pieces. Ohio’s short-tempered Field General had completely lost it.

Despite Hayes’ antics, The Game was over. Final score – Michigan 10, Ohio State 7.

Michigan would take their 11-0 record to Pasadena where they would tackle Stanford on New Year’s Day in a rematch of the first Rose Bowl in 1901 won by Michigan 49-0. The Wolverines would fall 13-12 on a last second field goal to finish the season with an 11-1 mark. The 1971 Wolverines would be ranked 6th in the final polls.

Coming tomorrow…1977…Leach & Co. Lock Out the Buckeyes…

8 comments:

Crabapple Buck said...

The referee that day was Jerry Markbriet, who went on to the NFL and became its top official when he retired from the field. Just a little trivia contribution from a Buckeye.

TitleIX said...

Bless your cotton-pickin' maize and blue heart Matthew Stout!!!

srudoff said...

Can't wait for Matthew's 2006 history lesson ;)

Ploeg said...

As a Vietnam vet, I need to comment on your remark "...the Vietnam War as the single greatest military disaster in American history." The war was not a military disaster, but a political disaster. The American fighting forces never lost a major battle in the war. This is a recurring theme that is an insult to the American fighting man - especially to those who fought and won in Vietnam only to see their victories taken away by politicians.

Ken VanderPloeg
Downers Grove, Illinois

john said...

Is Woody's temper tantrum on video?

Aram said...

Woody was out of control before the 1971 game even started. Check out the story from Wayne Stone, about 3/4 down this page, about what Woody did to the Michigan Marching Band in the tunnel before the game:

http://www.umbaa.org/About/Eras/70s.html

A2saint said...

Ken (AKA Ploeg), hope this isn't seen as pandering but on this veterans day week: Thanks!
signed the son of a Downers Grove-er

truman_burbank said...

I believe this is the game after which the fans tore down the goalposts. Then renewed rain drove everyone out of the staduim. A friend and I (both about 14 yrs old) and saw the huge aluminium goalpost left by the fans, so we hauled it up the steps and took it home, where it sat in my parents' back yard until they moved 30 yrs later. They gave it to one of the movers in partial payment for extra hauling, and I'm told that it's now holding up a basketball hoop in his back yard.

Brodie Hefner