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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday History Lesson - UM v. OSU - 1989

Props again to Matthew Stout for the fourth in his series on...The Game. Good bless his cotton pickin' maize and blue heart!

1989...Bo's Final Ride...

The year was 1989. Where were you? The original George Bush was in his first year as your President. The Berlin Wall had crumbled a mere 18 days earlier, just as Bush's predecessor Ronald Reagan had hoped when demanding that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev "tear down this wall!" 29 months earlier in a speech in West Berlin while at home, the South Carolina coast was trying to recover from $10 billion in damages caused by Hurricane Hugo in September. Bobby McFerrin was winning a Grammy for telling people to "Don't Worry, Be Happy," and "Driving Miss Daisy" was claiming an Oscar for Best Picture. Matt Stout was a senior in a suburban Columbus high school less than a year away from enrolling as a student-athlete at the University of Michigan, and living his dream of becoming a Michigan Man. And the Wolverines were about to send a legend off with one final victory in The Game.

Michigan entered The Game with a 9-1 record and ranked 3rd in the nation under the direction of 21-year coaching legend Bo Schembechler. The Wolverines had stumbled to defending national champion and number one ranked Notre Dame 24-19 in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 to open the season but had rebounded with nine consecutive victories to head into The Game. Senior option quarterback Michael Taylor and the bruising rushing duo of Jarrod Bunch and Leroy Hoard led a punishing Michigan running game on offense while All-American defensive back Tripp Welborne anchored the steady Michigan defense. Unbeaten in the conference, a Michigan victory over Ohio would allow the Wolverines to win back-to-back outright Big Ten titles for the first time since the 1947-48 national championship teams of Fritz Crisler and Bennie Oosterbaan. The win would also send the Boys in Blue back to the Rose Bowl for the third time in four years.

Ohio State came to Ann Arbor with an 8-2 mark and ranked 20th in the country. In just his second year in Columbus, Ohio coach John Cooper had rebounded from a disappointing 4-6-1 rookie campaign to lead his team into the thick of the Big Ten championship race in late November. Early season stumbles against Southern Cal and Illinois had been followed with six consecutive victories as the Buckeyes made a run at a 26th Big Ten title. Veteran quarterback Greg Frey and tailback Carlos Snow were stand-out performers on the offensive side of the ball while senior Derek Isaman and freshman sensation Alonzo Spellman paced an improving defense. An Ohio victory would earn the Buckeyes a share of the Big Ten title, and keep the Wolverines from returning to Pasadena.

Despite Ohio’s six game winning streak heading into The Game, Vegas odd makers tagged the Buckeyes as heavy 14-point underdogs to the Wolverines when the two bitter rivals met for the 86th time on the turf at Michigan Stadium.

For the first 30 minutes of The Game, Michigan proved worthy of their lofty ranking and heavy favorite’s role, running up 272 yards of total offense and a comfortable 14-3 halftime lead. The Wolverines struck gold for the first time midway through the opening stanza when Hoard scored from the Ohio one while back-up tailback Allen Jefferson added a second scoring jaunt from two yards out in the second quarter. Only a 20-yard field goal from Pat O’Morrow late in the half and two Michigan fumbles deep in Ohio territory had kept the first half from being a complete disaster for the Buckeyes.

As the two teams came out of the locker room after the intermission, Ohio was in desperate need of a shift in momentum, and their big break came on just the second play of the second half. Ohio’s Vinnie Clark picked off a Taylor pass, and the Buckeye offense went on the move before stalling at the Michigan 7. From there, O’Morrow booted a field goal from 22 yards out to close the score to 14-6.

Michigan took the football back on the ensuing kick-off and went nowhere against the suddenly stout Ohio defense. And when Wolverine punter Chris Stapleton shanked a 14-yard punt from his own 26, Ohio was quickly back in business at the Michigan 40. Nine plays later, Buckeye fullback Scottie Graham plunged in from the Michigan three and Ohio had closed the deficit to just two points. A missed two-point conversion attempt kept the score locked at 14-12 as The Game entered the fourth and final stanza.

As the final quarter began, the Michigan offense finally came off of life support. Rose Bowl MVP Hoard ripped off a 40-yard run to key a Michigan drive, and with a little more than 12 minutes remaining in The Game, Taylor hit Bunch for a five-yard scoring pass. The touchdown and subsequent point-after pushed the Michigan lead back to 21-12.

But Ohio responded, unwilling to bow to the heavily favored Wolverines in front of 106,137 at The Big House. The Buckeyes went 80 yards in just eight plays, concluding with a second touchdown run by Graham, this time from four yards out. Welborne blocked O’Morrow’s point-after but the Buckeyes had pulled the score back to 21-18, and once again breathed hope into the Ohio sideline.

After Michigan punted with less than five and one-half minutes remaining, Ohio took the pigskin back, intent on pulling the upset. But with less than three minutes remaining, Wolverine defensive back Todd Plate picked off a Frey pass at the Michigan 41 to kill Ohio’s final drive and the Buckeyes’ final hopes for earning a share of the conference crown.

The punishing Michigan running game worked the clock for the final two and one-half minutes, with Bunch ripping off a 23-yard touchdown to seal a 28-18 Michigan victory and second consecutive trip to Pasadena.

Prior to New Year’s Day, the legendary Schembechler announced that the 1990 Rose Bowl would be his final game on the sidelines after 21 seasons as Michigan’s Field General. And while Michigan would fall to Southern Cal 17-10 in the New Year’s Day Classic, Schembechler’s accomplishments at Michigan – 194 victories, 13 Big Ten Championships, and 10 Rose Bowl appearances – would be unparalleled.

But just as importantly, Schembechler would leave a legacy on the University of Michigan that survives to this day and will continue to survive through the test of time. From Schembechler Hall on South State Street to The Big House at the corner of Stadium and Main, Bo’s memory reminds us all that only “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions,” and that no man is more important than the team, “The Team, The Team, The Team.”


Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler – April 1, 1929 – November 17, 2006


Coming tomorrow...1997...Carr’s Crew Conquers Everest...


whetstonebuck said...

Hat tip to Bo.

WillinSacto said...

God Bless You Bo! You know God brought you home to preach "The Team."

El Pendejo Grande said...

Good times. I was there, in the end zone where everyone did their scoring. got flipped off by an OSU trombone for being too, uh, vocal.

You forgot the part where the stadium was silenced after Welbourne and Vada Murray knocked heads, leaving Murray splayed out on the turf for agonizing minutes, not moving.

Geez - Vada and Trip - monsters at blocking kicks that year. Calloway, McMurtry, Welbourne, 1,2 and 3. Jarrod Bunch, Allen Jefferson. Glorious days.

Crock said...

couldn't resist passing this joke along...seemed fitting for this post.

Ohio State is threatening to score the winning touchdown with four seconds to go on the Michigan two-yard line. Jim Tressel looks to the sky and says, “Oh Lord, I've been a good person. I've tried to live a good life. Please, give me your guidance. What play should we run?” Suddenly, the clouds part and a booming voice says, “RUN 34 POWER TRAP RIGHT.” Tressel stands in stunned disbelief. His prayer has been answered! Quickly, Tressel tells Todd Boeckman to run 34 power trap right. The quarterback calls the play and hands off to Chris Wells, who is immediately swarmed by Wolverine linebackers in the backfield. The game ends and Michigan fans storm the field to celebrate. From the sideline, Tressel looks toward heaven and says, “Why Lord? Why did you tell me to run 34 power trap right?” The same booming voice answers, “I DON'T KNOW. WHY DID WE RUN 34 POWER TRAP, BO?”

WingRG said...

First thing first, my hat's off to Bo, may he rest in peace.

A small question: is it me or is the team you guys played in that game called "Ohio STATE"? I mean, i'm not an ass-hole, and you'll never find me insisting on "THE Ohio State University" (it seems just silly), but someone new to this rivalry might stumble across this post and think that your big rival is "Ohio University Bobcats".

Otherwise, this article is very well written (along with the rest of the ones by Stout).

surrounded in columbus said...

that's a good question. for years (late '80's-'90's), grey sweat shirts w/ red block letter "OHIO" were quite fashionable here.

also there's the " 'cause we're from Ohio" part of the song, along w/ the ever popular "O-H, I-O". so there's been a history of references to just "Ohio" for sometime.

however, about 5-10 years ago OU copyrighted "OHIO" (grey sweat shirt w/ green block letters, usually) and began to enforce the copyright against tosu. the red & grey ones fell out of vogue.

my guess is the reference is just short hand and a vestige of a past, no longer as popular usage.

WingRG said...

cool. Thanks for clarification. Being somewhat new to this rivalry (i moved here in '94) i learn something new about these things every year. My hat's off to HBO for that documentary: i learnt more facts from that then i did from living here for 13 years.

gh said...

This was the first UM game I ever went to. I think I was 11. been hooked on UM ever since.

(My dad started taking myself and/or my sisters to games as a way to plant the seed about going to a 'big deal' college before we entered High School. Unfortunately it backfired when his daughters became spartans..... tsk.)

I'm very amped about the game Saturday. got my acceptance into UM MBA school last night...WAHOO!

WingRG said...

congrats on the acceptance letter. I was speaking with the executive VP of Cisco Systems last Thursday, and he also happened to be a UM MBA grad. He was quite "disappointed" when he realized that particular batch of students/recruits he was speaking to that day had about a dozen Buckeyes and no Wolverines (i'm sure they just brought in people by school, and that particular batch was an OSU batch)

surrounded in columbus said...

a rare worthwhile article by SI on line: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0611/gallery.cfb.mich.ohio/content.1.html

photo's from the top ten games since 1950.

surrounded in columbus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gh said...

thank you, wingrg, for your very kind words.

Fisher is a suprisingly under-rated school. A number of my buddies in OH (well they aren't my buddies this week)were looking at the part-time program very seriously. unfortunately fatherhood has delayed them, possibly permanently.

The big ten does well in the MBA world if you include Chicago. 3 top ten schools. Almost all are in the top 30.

Andy said...

Torrent link to this game here

Paulie Buckeyes said...

Great story.. I was only 2 years old back then.
Thank God I was only a little guy for most of the Cooper years.