The 10 Greatest Michigan Football Games Of All-Time
Throughout the University of Michigan's 130 years of football, there has been victory and defeat. There is an old saying one deserves not to lose, but in sports one team falls just short. Michigan has the most wins in Divison I football, but they have also suffered defeat.
Every Saturday the men that put on the Maize and Blue and the 107,000 people that pack Michigan Stadium expect a victory.
Some Saturdays it's a walk in the park, but there are some Saturdays that will stick out to Michigan players, coaches, students, administration, and fans that will never leave their minds where they can recall like it happen just yesterday.
The greatest games can be defined by one play, a catch, or a single drive. The game can come down to one player to make the difference, and it can happen by a tip, Hail Mary, interception, or when a touchdown is needed to win with one second left.
Every Wolverine Fan is biting their nails, standing, or sitting, and waiting for that special moment that no one will forget and will live on in Michigan football history.
No. 10: 2008 Michigan vs. Wisconsin
The 2008 season was a season to forget for the University of Michigan and first-year head coach Rich Rodriguez. One moment, however, will stick out to all Michigan fans, and that was Michigan versus Wisconsin. This was the 500th game played inside Michigan Stadium, and people saw the biggest comeback inside Michigan Stadium.
In the first half the Michigan offense looked like a car that just died on the freeway and couldn't start. For the first half Michigan only had 21 total yards of offense—TOTAL OFFENSE! Mistake after mistake.
Michigan's defense stood tough though and wouldn't break and kept Michigan in the game. Michigan went into the second half down 19-0.
In the second half the Wolverines offense looked like a Ford Mustang making plays and moving the football. It actually looked like they had a clue. In the third quarter Michigan went on a 14-play, 80-yard drive, capped off with Steven Threet hitting tight end Kevin Kroger. That cut the lead to 19-7.
Michigan's Brandon Minor got past a blitzing Wisconsin defense and sprinted down the sideline and scored on a 38-yard touchdown run to make it 19-14 on their ensuing possession.
Wisconsin's next possession started on the 20-yard line, and the defense that was hanging tough all game made a play of their own when Donovan Warren stepped in front of a slant route and tipped the ball in the air. Fifth-year senior Jon Thompson picked off the pass, and then a convoy of Michigan players led him into the end zone and Michigan took the lead 20-19. Michigan failed on the two-point conversion.
Wisconsin punted on their next possession, and then Threet did his best impression of Pat White and broke loose for 58 yards but was caught from behind. But five plays later Sam McGuffie was able to punch it in, and Michigan led 27-19.
Wisconsin wasn't done; they drove down the field late in the fourth quarter, and with 13 seconds left a Wisconsin score made it 27-25. They did convert on the two-point conversion, but a penalty canceled it out, and then on the second attempt the Michigan defense stopped Wisconsin. Michigan's comeback was complete.
Michigan rallied from 19 down, and for one game in 2008 in a season that will be forgotten in Michigan history, this one will stick out.
No. 9: 2008 Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida Gators
Jan. 1, 2008 ended the Lloyd Carr era against the Florida Gators in the Capital One Bowl. Lloyd Carr announced his retirement, and Michigan was a heavy underdog against the defending National Champion Florida Gators and then Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
Michigan's big three seniors Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and Jake Long had never won a bowl game and had never beaten Ohio State, but the heavy underdog Michigan Wolverines weren't afraid of "SEC SPEED."
Michigan and Florida was a boxing match, and it went all 12 rounds, but Michigan was getting in the heavier blows by getting after Tebow all game long. The Michigan offense, after being injured most of the season, showed what they were capable of by putting up 41 points and 524 yards compared to Florida's 400 yards.
Adrian Arrington put on a show by making two remarkable catches and ended up scoring the game winning touchdown to make it 38-35. K.C. Lopata added a field goal to make it 41-35, and the Wolverines defense continue to stop and harass Tebow.
Michigan sent off Carr, Henne, Hart, and Long as winners, and for one game people weren't talking about the "SEC SPEED." They were talking about Michigan football and a truly great man in Lloyd Carr.
No. 8: 1950 Michigan vs. Ohio State
The "Snow Bowl": Michigan versus Ohio State in what was a full scale blizzard in Columbus, Ohio—the worst blizzard in about 40 years in Ohio. The players, coaches, and 50,503 people dealt with the five inches of snow and 30 mph gusty winds.
Michigan was unranked and Ohio State was ranked No. 8 in the nation. Michigan-OSU decided to play the game. If it wasn't played OSU would've gone to the Rose Bowl, but the Big Ten, Michigan, and OSU felt it was in the best interest because the winner would go to the Rose Bowl.
In this game neither team got a first down. Teams punted on third down just in case they fumbled and so they could re-kick on fourth down. Ohio State scored first on a blocked field goal and OSU hit a field goal.
Michigan scored on a blocked field goal, and the football rolled out of the end zone to make it 3-2. Before the first half came to an end Michigan blocked a punt, and Tony Momsen, brother of Ohio State Bob Momsen, blocked a field goal for OSU, which was recovered in the end zone to give Michigan a 9-3 lead.
It stayed 9-3 in the second half, and Michigan defeated No. 8-ranked Ohio State and won the Big Ten and earn the trip to the Rose Bowl. Michigan went on to the Rose Bowl and beat the California Bears 14-6.
No. 7: 2006 Michigan vs. Ohio State
No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Michigan Wolverines. It was all on the line in Columbus, the Big Ten Champions staying undefeated for a trip to the BCS National Championship game. In college football nothing is better than the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, and this was the first time both teams were undefeated going in to play each other.
Michigan and Ohio State's offenses could not be stopped. Both offenses were going back and forth. Michigan scored first, but Ohio State scored 21 unanswered points and took the lead to the half 28-14.
Michigan wasn't going to back down and came out and cut it down to seven when Mike Hart ran it in from two yards out in the second half.
Then on Ohio State's next possession, Alan Branch picked off a pass for a touchdown to cut the lead to 28-24. Ohio State answered but Michigan came back to make it 35-31.
With roughly six minutes to go it looked like Michigan stopped Ohio State, but a roughing the QB against Shawn Crable and Ohio State made Michigan pay for the costly mistake, and the Buckeyes made it 42-31.
Michigan still didn't quit, as they drove down the field and made it 42-37 and converted the two-point conversion to make it 42-39, but Michigan couldn't recover the onside kick, so Ohio State won the Big Ten, stayed undefeated, and went on to play for the National Championship.
No. 6: 2004 Michigan vs. Michigan State
Michigan-Michigan State is always a battle-tested game going down to the wire. On a fall day in 2004 between Michigan and Michigan State, two players gave it their all to win the in-state rivalry game: Drew Stanton and Braylon Edwards.
In the first half it was the Drew Stanton show. Michigan's defense didn't have an answer for John L. Smith's spread and the leader Stanton. Michigan State was running up and down the field. Late in the first half Stanton scrambled and was tackled by LaMarr Woodley, and Stanton landed on his shoulder, taking him out of the game.
In the second half Michigan was down 17, 27-10, with less than nine minutes left, but they scored on two quick drives and tied the game at 27. Braylon Edwards led the comeback. Chad Henne found him twice with deep passes, and the Michigan State secondary didn't have an answer.
In the first overtime both Michigan and Michigan State exchanged field goals. In the second overtime both teams exchanged touchdowns, Jason Avant for Michigan and Jason Teague for MSU.
In the third OT Henne went back to his favorite target Edwards; he ran a post route, cut in between two Spartans, and walked into the end zone. Henne on the two-point conversion found Tim Massaqoui in the back of the end zone, giving Michigan a 45-37 lead.
On MSU's possession on second down they had a offensive pass interference call against them that put the ball on the 40-yard line, and MSU couldn't convert on fourth down.
The Michigan Wolverines made it three straight games, and it became a instant classic and one of the greatest games played between the in-state rivals.
No. 5: 2000 Michigan vs. Alabama
The 2000 Orange Bowl saw a future Super Bowl MVP and a NFL MVP in Tom Brady and Shaun Alexander. Both teams are tradition powers in college football.
The game started really slow, as both offenses couldn't do much, but in the second quarter Alabama was able to find the end zone twice, and Tom Brady connected with David Terrell for a 27-yard strike. The first half ended at 14-7 Alabama.
In the second half Michigan started fast, marching down the field to tie the game at 14. Alabama scored with Alexander, but Michigan came back when Brady again found Terrell on a 20-yard pass and A-train Anthony Thomas scored on a three-yard run in the third quarter.
Michigan controlled the fourth quarter, but a fumble and a blocked field goal by Alabama took the game to overtime.
In the overtime, on Michigan's first play, the cool and collected Brady founded tight end Shaun Thompson from 25 yards. Alabama scored on their first play of OT. Everyone thought a second OT was coming, but kicker Ryan Pflugner pushed the kick wide. Everyone was stunned, but Michigan celebrated a Orange Bowl victory to end Tom Brady's up and down career at Michigan.
No. 4: 1994 Michigan vs. Colorado
"MIRACLE AT MICHIGAN." 1994 Michigan vs. Colorado (my first Michigan game). It was Bill McCartney coming back to Michigan where he coached at Divine Child H.S and was an assistant under Bo Schembechler.
Michigan had this game won, as they were up 26-21 and Colorado had to go about 90 yards. Kordell Stewart took the ball to about the 36-yard line with six seconds left. The ball would have to travel 70 yards, which everyone thought was impossible, but Michigan's defense had a front three and eight guys back....
Stewart got the ball, rolled out, and at about the 30-yard line heaved the ball downfield. Michael Westbrook got behind the Michigan secondary, leaped high in the air, and somehow came up with the football and caught it for a touchdown.
Stewart and the rest of Colorado celebrated while Michigan fans everywhere were STUNNED, SHOCKED, IN AWE. That play will always be part of college football history and was on of the greatest games ever. It truly was a "MIRACLE AT MICHIGAN."
No. 3: 1995 Michigan vs. Virginia
The first game of the Lloyd Carr looked like it was going to start off rough. Michigan was down 17-0 against Virginia on a hot summer day in August. The summer of '95 was rough for the Wolverines after the firing of Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr took over. It looked like the interim head coach would be off to a bad start.
Michigan couldn't establish anything before the start of the fourth quarter. Down 17-0, Lloyd Carr, in front of ABC and all of the Michigan fans, screamed at the entire roster and got into their faces. All of a sudden Michigan had life.
Michigan in the fourth quarter stormed back down 17-12. With a couple of seconds left it was Mercury Hayes vs. Ronde Barber. Scott Dreisbach went back to throw the fade pass, and Hayes beat Barber and tippy-toed in the corner of the end zone and caught the game-winning touchdown, beating Virgina 18-17 and giving Lloyd Carr his first victory as Wolverines head coach.
No. 2 2007: Michigan vs. Appalachian State
The all-time upset in college football. A team from Boone, North Carolina rolled into Ann Arbor and played their hearts out and beat the Michigan Wolverines, ruining Michigan's hopes of a national title.
The Appy State offense in the first half was run to perfection. Michigan didn't know what hit them. Armanti Edwards and the spread gave Michigan's defense fits in the first half and controlled the game against a much stronger and talented football team.
In the second half Michigan woke up and took the lead 32-31, and late in the game Edwards threw an interception, but Michigan couldn't do anything with it as Appy State blocked a field goal.
Late in the fourth quarter Edwards got loose and made a couple of plays and drove Appy State, and they hit a field goal, taking the lead 34-32. Michigan came back when Chad Henne hit Mario Manningham for a 46-yard pass, giving Jason Gingell a chance to hit the game-winning kick.
They lined up Gingell from 35 yards out and attempted a field goal, but Michigan missed a block, and Appy State for the second straight time blocked a field goal, and the all-time upset was complete.
No one knew who they were when they entered Michigan Stadium, but when they left college football knew who they were. It truly was David taking down Goliath.
No. 1: 1969 Michigan vs. Ohio State
In 1969 Bo Schembechler came to Michigan, who still had the tradition but weren't winning. A man from Ohio who was an assistant for Woody Hayes took the reins at the University of Michigan and for 30 years led Michigan to be a powerhouse. He preached, "THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM."
On Nov. 22, 1969, Michigan met Ohio State, and the Buckeyes were considered "the greatest college football team of all time." Ohio State had more talent and more depth. It began the Bo vs. Woody 10-year war. In front of 103,000 people, Michigan pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football.
Early Ohio State showed they were the stronger team by scoring first, but they missed the extra point, making it 6-0. Michigan drove right down the field and took the lead 7-6 (the first time all season Ohio State trailed).
Ohio State answered right back with a drive of their own and retook the lead 12-7. The extra point was good, but Michigan was offsides, so Woody decided to go for two and OSU didn't convert it.
Michigan punched Woody and the Buckeyes right back by taking the lead back when they scored a touchdown by Garvie Craw and took the lead 14-12. Then OSU went three and out, and Michigan punt returner Barry Pierson took it to the three-yard line, and Don Moorhead scored two plays later on a QB keeper, making it 21-12.
Before the first half would end, Michigan put another drive together and added a field goal by Ted Killian after a touchdown was called back against Michigan.
In the second half Michigan's offense was stuffed by OSU; Michigan kept going three and out. Pierson played the game of his life when he picked off a pass. Michigan kept missing field goals, but Pierson was one step ahead of OSU QB Rex Kern. Michigan's offense wasn't doing anything, and OSU kept shooting themselves in the foot.
Then with 29 seconds left, backup QB Ron Maciejowski fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Cecil Pryor, and the upset was complete as the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes lost to the hated Michigan Wolverines.
ABC announcer Bill Flemming said, "There it is! What has to be the upset of the century!" The Michigan players and fans celebrated and carried Bo on their shoulders. Michigan went on to play in the Rose Bowl.
Bo and Michigan had their greatest win of all time, and it has to be the greatest game in Michigan football history.