spoiler alert: i linked this
Bo and woody
(fact checkers, knock yourselves out, am still going mostly off memory)
Have yet to lose a home game during my tenure as a student.
The Big Ten is now going to allow two teams to go to bowl games.
The tie-breaker rules have been revised to eliminate AD votes. If records are even, and head to head is a tie, non-conference record will be the tie breaker.
Denny Franklin is gone, and we start a rookie QB from Flint, a 3 sport high school star who turns into one of the all time great UM athletes, Rick Leach.
To recap, Ohio, unbeaten-untied national champs 1968, upset by UM in last game of 1969 to cost them that title, lost Rose Bowl in upset to Jim Plunkett led Stanford to cost them 1970 national title, the super sophs graduated, well, left, so 1971 a rebuilding year.
1972 and 1974, lost at MSC in upsets both years, but beat us to go to Rose Bowl and choke.
1973, tie us, beat USC 42-21 in the Rose Bowl. The tie most likely cost them another title.
In those days of the Big Two and the Little Eight, other than MSC, which was away in years we hosted the Buckeyes, the other games were for drinking and passing up co-eds in the stands. Another ritual was throwing the Annie Greenspring – Boones Farm – Mad Dog bottles over the top of the stadium at the end of the 3rd quarter. Just pass them up in the stands to the folks in the top row, who threw them over the edge.
The streak of 100,000 plus started at the end of the 1974 season. The legal drinking age was 18. You could bring a keg into the game, if you had a ticket for it.
The field had not been dug down yet, so the cheerleaders did back flips off the wall after every score, counting up the Wolverine points. Whisky the dog still pushed a ball the length of the field at half time.
Almost, maybe every, game started at 1:30 p.m.
We had our own internal countdown clocks.
We start the year with 3 non-conference games, still an 11 game season and no Notre Dame contract yet.
Not sure which was first, but, I think the 19-19 tie with Stanford was. Not a vintage Stanford team. They missed an extra point and Bob Wood made a then record 4 field goals for us.
Despair. Unbelievable. How could this happen?
Then, next week, even worse. 14 – 14 with Baylor.
I could not get drunk enough.
Then the boys rounded into shape, knocking off one of the Little Eight after another.
My first trip for a game was to MSC in 1973. Very memorable. Played in a raging downpour. They crossed midfield once, on a completed pass, but the receiver fumbled and we recovered.
The ever-daring Denny Stoltz punted on third down on consecutive possessions. I think it was 42-0.
In 1975, they were supposed to be good. (OK, I am fact checking this one. I was right!)
I go to MSC to root against Woody once again.
The 11th game added to the former ten game season, is a conference game, before the three non-conference opponents.
Woody's team is loaded once again, led by returning Heisman winner Archie Griffin.
21-0 Ohio crushes Sparty. The long drought up north is over, as they have won all the rest of their regular season games this decade, and the last couple years of the 60s, except for games in our state. (with the exception of the 1971 rebuilding year)
Sparty then rips off 3 in a row, even beating Notre Dame at South Bend. A couple of my MSC buddies were in town for our game, at a kegger at a sorority house. The sorority had to get special permission from their national office to serve beer.
My fraternity then determined which sororities played at half-time of the Mud Bowl, so they were nice to us. Until after Homecoming.
There was still beer in the keg when we had to leave, so we took it with us.
Having run Duff Daugherty out of town for losing to Bo, MSC now thinks they can take us with their new coach, are hosting in East Lansing.
We get a 4th quarter TD and win 16-6.
MSC is now 0-2 in league play, with no real chance to pass us or Ohio and get to a bowl game.
Being Sparty, they blow a couple of games to finish 7-4.
We go through conference play undefeated, 8-0-2, to face the 10-0 Buckeyes. The Orange Bowl announces it will be ecstatic to take the LOSER of the game to face the Big Eight champ.
I decided it would be appropriate to greet Archie Griffin, finishing what would be his second Heisman winning campaign, with a couple of oranges.
A bunch of baseball players lived in the house and they/I invited me to join them and other male varsity athletes (uh, I was never in that category) to guard the banner from another Buckeye attack.
I just jumped on the field and milled around with them, following along.
It is awesome to stand at midfield and look up at a full house before the Ohio game.
Back in the day, I was big for my size. I was hoping Ohio would storm us at mid-field; then I would be sure to nail Archie with the oranges secreted in my pocket.
Sure enough, the Suckeyes stormed out of the tunnel and came right for us.
Man, they were big! Being in cleats didn't hurt as far as obtaining a height advantage over 6 foot even me. I let the legitimate guardians hold up the banner, and left my hands in my pockets holding the oranges.
The line held, and Woody led them off to the Ohio side.
I planned (again) to go the Rose Bowl after we won. The home team had not lost a Bo-Woody game yet.
Cornelius Greene led them down the field for a score on their first possession.
Our defense then held them to: ten
three and outs.
Greg Mattison, eat your heart out. Ten in a row, with the Heisman winning running back.
We are up 14-7 in the 4th quarter.
One of our Tds, I believe the first, was a halfback pass from Gordon Bell.
Buckeye ball. Third and long. Greene is backed into his own end zone. A Wolverine dives and grabs one ankle. Greene barely gets off the pass.
It is complete.
For first down.
They get all the way down to tie the score.
Now, a tie sends Woody to the Rose Bowl, because we would have the exact same conference record, and a head to head tie, but, we had those damn ties to Stanford and Baylor and would lose the non-conference tie break.
So, we had to pass.
Run back inside the ten.
Buckeyes get a touchdown.
Massive letdown. One home loss in four years.
So, Orange Bowl trip instead.
I was five rows from the top of the upper deck, and cringed at the hits the Selmon brothers were dealing out. Oklahoma had the two Selmons, and, another D lineman who also made all pro.
For the only time in his career, Ricky was knocked out of the game, by an blatant late hit about 3 strides out of bounds. In front of a referee.
Which was not called.
The Buckeyes had blown yet another Rose Bowl, this time to UCLA, opening up the national title.
And Oklahoma took it, by beating us 14-6.
Trivia note: NBC-TV forsook its longtime logo, the peacock, for a stylish “N”, unveiled, of course, on January 1, 1976, first day of the bi-centennial.
Turns out it was the same logo as Nebraska public TV, so they had to change it.
I sneaked into the NBC party before the game with a fraternity brother who did have an invite. When someone tried to bust me, asking if he could help me, I said sure, I'd like a scotch on the rocks. He said show me your ticket. My bro slipped his to me while the exchange took place.
Ahh, the brashness of youth.
P.S. to Ace: yes, I am older than dirt.