Notre Dame 2011 Under The Lights. Best atmosphere for a sporting event i've ever been at, coupled with a fantastic comeback and fantastic finish. It was my senior year in the marching band, after 3 seasons of rich rod, god it was perfect.
This Week's Obsession: The Best Game
The question this week is a simple one. Of the Michigan games you've attended, which one is your favorite, and what makes it stand out so much?
Seth: I've got so many Michigan memories with my dad that I can't separate (or I'm just not ready to think about) them, but even if I could it would still be the one when I started going without him that sticks out: The '98 Penn State game.
It was a chilly, kind of overcast, sweatshirty Michigan fall afternoon and I was a first-year flying solo. My freshman year came right after the national championship and the "Halo" stadium expansion, and that meant fewer student seats available with way too much demand. The freshmen were at the bottom of that list, thus I wound up with the option of getting only a "half-pack" or no tickets. Since I went to all the games with my dad and his friends anyway, what did it matter? So it wasn't until the PSU game, when my dad wasn't going, and Steve Kyritz offered me his ticket, that I got to see my first game from the student section. Since I'd been informed not sitting in your seat was SOP in that mass of human bodies, I wound up squeezed and standing sideways on a bench in the 30-somethings.
And it was a hell of a game to do that. That PSU team was very good (they came in ranked #9) and the last time we'd faced them was Judgment Day/Party at Bollinger's House. Michigan was still floundering in the #20s because of the two losses to open the season.
What made the day was each time Penn State got near us they'd get blown back by three sections of 18- to 21-year old raging psychotics possessed of toilet paper rolls and marshmallows. The Nits didn't arrive until later in the 1st quarter, and Michigan blocked a FG. They came down again and Michigan stood them up on the goal line three times before PSU let time expire in the quarter to get the hell away from us (they didn't get in on 4th down either). In the 4th quarter Penn State kept getting pinned deep against us, and the linemen couldn't hear the calls, meaning we were treated to a TFL fest. Michigan won 27-0 and by Mondaywas back in the top 15.
Michigan with my dad was this paced thing we enjoyed like a baseball game while he and his best friend worked through their complicated lives. His standard cheer was a clap-clap-fistpump. PSU '98 was the first time I experienced the Big House as a visceral thing I did with my whole body. I still sat with my dad at least a game a year, but when it came time to sign up for '99 student tickets I was one of the first in line.
The Mathlete: I don't think that was the real ticket, I didn't see the official game sponsor noted anywhere.
[Hit THE JUMP for the obvious answer, a far less obvious answer, and one that falls somewhere in the middle.]
Brian: There are different answers for this depending on whether you're talking about how I felt in the immediate aftermath of the game or how I feel about it now.
Immediate aftermath is easy: 2010 Notre Dame. I was there, Denard ran towards me on his "shoelaces flapping in the wind" Bergkamp run and dove in that endzone after engineering the drive that didn't seem possible en route to 500 total yards... 500 total yards at ND. I mean, you guys. The possibilities were absolutely endless right then.
We lingered in the stadium as long as possible, finally leaving when the band did. We ended up going in the same direction, so we just trailed them as they did their cadence. By the time we got to some random Indiana Chili's I was completely exhausted and just so, so happy. It was the best time at a Chili's ever. By anyone. I had the best time anyone has ever had at Chili's.
Unfortunately, it just didn't really work out, man. For various reasons from elbows to Greg Robinson to Al Borges Michigan frustratingly wasted that guy, and so there's a bittersweet tinge to those memories.
So let me put on the old man cap and say the obvious one: 1997 Ohio State. Beating OSU to go undefeated and put yourself in position to win a national title with a defensive performance so ridiculously dominant and that punt return was electric. You could feel the crowd progressively lose its mind, relax, and then tighten up again as Michigan raced out to 20-0 lead and then let it slip back to 20-14. When it was finally obvious that no one was getting 20 on this Michigan D, the validation of Woodson--his coronation--was complete.
Photo credit: Lon Horwedel/AnnArbor.com
The Mathlete: As the non-legacy non-local Michigan fan, I didn't even make it to my first game at the Big House until the 2010 Michigan-Illinois shoot out. I brought my dad with me (decked out in his Kansas State gear everyone mistook for Northwestern) and spent the cold morning tailgating with JamieMac featuring guest appearances by Tim Sullivan (of MGoBlog at the time) and Seth (not of of MGoBlog at the time).
The game itself, well it was something. It turned out to be the last fun moment of the RichRod era. 130+ points, three overtimes and the closest thing to a defensive stand the Greg Robinson era ever produced. There was no Rose Bowl at stake, no Big Ten title. No one knew what the future held but the luster from the Notre Dame game Brian mentioned was long gone, but this was a fun Saturday. Denard had a head injury of some sort and with his job on the line, RichRod threw Tate Forcier back into the fire and still managed to score on virtually every possession.
Within two months Forcier, Rodriguez and [GERG] Robinson were all long gone and everyone quickly moved to forget an ugly era of Michigan football. But it was a great day for my dad and I and one I'll never forget. It was a great day for my dad too and we even made it back to the hotel in time to watch Kansas State throttle Texas behind 9 yards passing.
Seth: "Seth (not of of Mgoblog at the time)."
Of MGoBlog was I, but went I then by a different name.
Ace: I had much the same quandary as Brian when coming up with an answer to this question—perhaps even more so, since my time in the Michigan student section spanned from 2006-2010, and U-M's home schedule in 2006 was rather underwhelming. Think back on the rest of those years and you understand my plight.
That's an issue, since I'd really like to pick a game from my time as a student. While I was lucky enough to start going to games at the Big House in 1994, and saw such classics as the Biakabutuka game and the aforementioned '97 Ohio State and '98 Penn State contests, my youth-clouded memories of those games are almost entirely reinforced by subsequent rewatchings later in life. Choosing one of them, for me, would be akin to picking the '98 Rose Bowl, and I watched Woodson intercept Leaf from the comfort of my neighbor's living room.
Part of me wants to cheat back a few years before college and pick the 2003 Ohio State game, but that took on much more significance in the rivalry drought to come. (Also, by that point I was truly spoiled by Carr's dominance over Cooper, and hadn't yet recalibrated expectations for this Tressel fellow.) Another part wants to say Under The Lights I or the 2011 Ohio State game, but I worked both of those games; as much as I love my job, it's tough to say my greatest Big House experience came during a game in which I wasn't allowed to cheer.
I'm left with games that were best appreciated in the moment. I considered the 2008 Wisconsin game, the most fun I had in the student section at U-M. The 2009 Notre Dame game came to mind, as did Denard's coming-out party to open the 2010 season against UConn.
In the end, though, I have to go with a game that didn't take place in Ann Arbor. After suffering through The Horror, The Dixoning, and the subsequent questioning of everything I ever thought I knew about Michigan football, I nevertheless joined a group of friends in a caravan to East Lansing, where we were greeted my many a green-and-white "34-32" T-shirt.
Our seats were in two different pockets of the exceedingly confident MSU student section; Spartan students had been given inflatable spears upon entering the stadium, which predictably led to constant poking of the Michigan fans seated among them. Proverbial fightin' words were uttered.* This was my first road game, and it had all the components necessary for an intense, potentially glorious one: an evenly matched rival, a seat deep in enemy territory, and the pure adrenalin rush that comes from willingly being in a place where one may not be entirely safe.
It didn't pay off until the end, of course, but when it did—it's tough to even describe the feeling. MSU scored 21 straight points to go up by ten with just 7:40 remaining. Mike Hart, by far my favorite player during my time as a student, saved the day by recovering a Ryan Mallett fumble when the freshman had to replace a banged-up Chad Henne for a snap. Then RoboHenne activated, floating the most beautiful pass I've ever seen in person to Greg Mathews to bring Michigan within three, then winning the game by lobbing one up for a leaping Mario Manningham.
The stunned silence in Spartan Stadium as State's final drive petered out was my everything. The walk back to the car, heads held high, as we gleefully reminded any MSU fan idiotic enough to bring up The Horror that they'd just lost to the team that lost to that team was wonderfully cathartic. I love the Big House and have countless memories from that beautiful building, but there's something about the road game experience that's tough to top.
*One such verbal foray by an MSU student aimed at one of my friends—which I cannot reprint here for a multitude of reasons—backfired so hilariously that he was disowned on the spot by his group of friends. He stood silent, horrified, for the rest of the game. Few moments in the stands have been more rewarding than seeing his face go sheet-white when he realized his attempted insult was really a self-mocking for the ages.
1969 M. OSU. Woody going nuts on the sidelines
Actually it was 1971 that he went nuts on the sideline. My recollection in 1969 was that he was in shock.
Days after I turned 18, I took the $120 I had received for my birthday and attempted to flip it into my first ever Michigan-Ohio State game in person.
I had attended Michigan games for many years, usually (like Seth) with my Dad. That year was the first I had some money to get to most of the games, but of course most could be had by face value or less. Now I was attempting something I had never even before considered.
I found a couple selling a student ticket for $100 to make rent for the month. I exchanged cash for the ticket, thankful to have enough left over for a bag of Wiard's donuts and a jug of cider.
And I entered the student section for the first time in my life. I stood somewhere between rows 20 and 30.
It was cold. It was gray. It was glorious.
It was 1997.
I don't know you. But I would be willing to bet that is best 100 bucks you have spent, or are likely to ever spend.
It's up there. In terms of recreational money, no doubt about it.
there have been lots of exciting games before and since - far more important ones too, but standing next to my dad, both in utter disbelief that Anthony Carter had actually broken those 2 tackles and highstepped into OUR endzone, is probably the best moment we ever shared.
That game was so awesome. And I hadn't even been born yet. But when did you hear the Ufer call?
and early-evening on WJR so we heard it back at the tailgate my dad and his buddies maintained at AA Golf and Outing. It was so much fun. Almost to the point of delirium. Last second wins for M were a heck of a lot rarer back then and I wasn't old enough to have seen any at all. Even better (for some reason) was catching the 11 pm highlights on all 3 channels with mom. We had 2 season tix. We got a couple extra so the whole family saw the opener, mom went to ND, Staee, and Ohio, I went to the rest.
Think Contador still has a shot? I like Kwiatkowski as a darkhorse. He looks really strong.
Why not? It wasn't that long ago that he reduced Nibali (and everyone else) to a gasping back marker in the Giro. And he's also shown a flair for surprise comebacks.
Big Ed Muransky stepped on my foot in the endzone during the celebration. I was in 6th grade. I was psyched.
One of my Dad's less regular tailgating pals actually attended IU. You'll remember you could reenter the stadium back then and we always met at the cars for a beverage, cold chicken, and discussion at halftime. Mr. Dave was feeling pretty good about Corso's boys at that time and he proceeded to reinforce his liquid sustenance. After the game we were just grinning. Dave stumbled back a little later and was devastated. About 8 of us were lined up against a station wagon wondering what this crimson and cream laden drunken nutjob was about to do. He addressed each of us individually, young and old, sidestepping from one to the next, with a firm finger to the sternum and a boozy "Fuck You" to our grinning faces. It was awesome.
best one I've had the pleasure of seeing in 49 years . . .
I was at one of the most historic games in Michigan history.
11/6/2010. vs Illinois. 67-65.
Smashed and thrashed the record books. Broke a 106-year-old record of total points in a game.
My favorite was 2007 vs ND. 38-0. Seeing the ND fans behind me leave at halftime when Michigan was up 31-0.
But the lack of any effective defense was sickening. The fans around us were all grumbling about how the game would be over if we could just be the defense off the field. The 70-21 games with Steve Smith at QB was much more acceptable. 28-21 at the half after Steve took a QB draw for a 50 yard touchdown. The the total beat down in the second half. That's how you beat Illinois,
Don't forget Illinois was up 21-7 in the first quarter. Bo didn't like that much.
Really, none of you picked Braylonfest? I was a senior at the time, and that's still the greatest game of any kind I've ever been to. As a bonus, that was a pretty significant game both at the time and in retrospect, as M went to the Rose Bowl that year.
I won't rehash the whole thing, but c'mon...FG, tricky onside kick, functional Hail Mary to #1, defensive stop, functional Hail Mary to #1...and that's just to get to OT.
That's #2 for me. That or 2000 at Ohio State (Michigan still hasn't won there since. Birthday money, again). We're fortunate to have so many good options to pick from.
This really should have been "best game...other than 1997 OSU", for obvious reasons.
It seemed so impossible at the time, being down 17(?) with 8 or so minutes left. I remember a guy next to me saying we still had a chance and the rest of us being utterly dismissive.
One of the most exciting things in sports, for me at least, is a when a great player transcends, and Braylon did just that.
This was my sophomore year and I'll remember every detail of it forever. Two highly ranked teams, David Boston making it so that every single person in Michigan colors wanted to punch him, Woodson's return and interception, and how loud it was at the end of the game (my ears rang for hours afterwards). Naturally, we went to Bollinger's house after the game to celebrate.
Runners up: 2000 Orange Bowl, The Brayloning.
It was my first year in law school, and I remember celebrating at Bollinger's house . . . until that jackass fell out of the tree. Thankfully, he was drunk enough that every branch he hit on the way down broke his fall without killing him.
Man, that was so long ago. I want that day back; maybe without that dude falling, though.
The party at Bollinger's happened after the Penn State game on the first ESPN "Judgement Day". M was #4, they were #1 and M dominated the game so thoroughly M lept to #1 in the polls.
Both from the TD during the final seconds and the schadenfreude of the ND fans acting like they had won the game with their go-ahead TD in the 4th.
- 1997 at MSU. I was in MSU's student section for Woodson's one-handed INT. I may have started talking loudly about the Heisman Trophy at that point.
- Under The Lights I. Tied for most insane finish to a football game with...
- 2004 three-OT Braylonfest against MSU.
Honorable mention to the 1995 5-0 Purdue mud-sleet-snow-crap game, which went through misery all the way through the other side to a strange kind of awesome. Only game that came close for me in terms of weather was the 1996 Boston College game when Matt Hasselbeck was their QB and it rained so hard at times that you couldn't see a third of the way across the field.
Yeah, and the rain running like waterfalls down the steps of the stadium.
That BC game in '96, I'm still drying out from that one. We were standing on our bleachers, and there was no less than two to three inches of water cascading down the concrete underneath us for the entire second half.
Wasn't that Jerame Tuman's real coming-out party? Also, fun fact, Tuman married Scott Dreisbach's sister.
Old man cap for me, too. I was at the 30 on the Michigan sideline for 97 Ohio game with my Dad. It continues to be our favorite memory together. An incredible day for all of Michigan. I'll never forget it.
2003: U of M 35 - OSU 21
I remember it like yesterday ... I was a junior in the student section, we had to win for the Big 10 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. It was unusually warm that year in November - we were all wearing t-shirts and jeans to the game. We also got those sweet shirts (which I still have BTW) which celebrated 100 years of the rivalry with "100 years of busting their nuts". Great shirt, great game.
The Buckeyes mounting several challenges that game but we kept beating them back on big days by Navarre and Perry. That was also the year of the epic comeback at Minnesota and Perry winning the Doak Walker. We kept at least a 1TD cushion most of the afternoon. We stormed the field - some with roses in our mouths ala Woodson. I remember thinking the entire student section was on the field that day.
I still get chills at the chant "It's great to be a Michigan wolverine!"
I was in the student section for that game. Didn't Perry get a stinger in his quad ad they kept having to pick him up. At one point I remember seemingly the whole stadium chanting PER-REY PER-REY!!
I was also at UTL I and 2007 @MSU, as well as some of the other games mentioned. That feeling of pure joy that you feel in those games and those moments is truly incredible. I can't even imagine what the players must feel like.
Posts like this give me goosebumps, and get me so excited for football season.
They did chant Perry, Perry, Perry ... Because he went down twice with leg injuries.
That was a great game along with the 2004 Braylon-fest ... To come back from that deficit. And on the weekend of Halloween. That was amazing too.
Yeah I'm going to go with 2008 Wisconsin if I'm restricting to student years. I was part of the Block M and my engineering friend persuaded me to paint my face for that one game. Although that goal line stand against Ball State in 2006 was pretty good. I felt our student section helped out the team slightly that day.
Being a student manager on the team, the Bucks came in high, certain that there was no way a "mediocre" Michigan team would derail their Rose Bowl hopes again (1993). Seeing Tshimanga absolutely run over, around, past and through guys, OVER and OVER and OVER... he possessed every tool.
Make 'em miss in the backfield? CHECK.
Break a tackle at the line of scrimmage? CHECK.
Split two defenders with brilliant move? CHECK.
Out run the rest of the defense? CHECK
DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS IN ONE RUN?!? CHECK.
...and then Woodson leaping over Terry Glenn to pick off a pass and seal the deal.
It was the most "cathartic" football game I was ever a witness to... with UTL I a close second.
I remember in 1998 watching McNabb kill us with the option. Albeit a loss, that is when I fell in love with that offense. What takes the cake for me though is UTL I. Can never and will never be duplicated.
Undefeated, my senior year, and my future wifes first Michigan football game.
1995 Kickoff Classic against Virginia. My first game at the Big House. Dreisbach to Mercury Hayes with no time left to win it.
The Game 1997. Nothing else is even close.
I met Lloyd Carr at a function in 2005, and asked him the game he remembers most fondly, and his choice was The Game 1997, even over the Rose Bowl a few weeks later.
I was at the 2007 MSU game as well. My clearest memories from that game are Hart picking up Mallett's fumble (and gaining 10 yards and a first down after picking it up!) and the ball slowly bouncing down the field in a near-silent stadium after MSU's last-gasp drive ended in an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Something that went under appreciated at the time, was Shawn Crable missing that tackle on Caulcrick right at the sideline, falling down, getting up, and as Caulcrick ran around the line to the other side of the field and shot down the opposite sideline, Crable immediately taking an angle across the field to tackle him some 40 yards later before he could score. I was amazed in the stands and kept shouting "but did you see who made the tackle?!!" while the MSU fans were celebrating. It was one of the best "effort" plays I'd ever seen.
So I'm an MSU grad and an OSU fan and I've only attended two games at the Big House and after I tell you which ones, you'll be lining up to give me your tickets to attend many more.
'04 MSU - 3OTs, Braylon Edwards, 17pt comeback. I was actually getting a ride from a Michigan fan who forced me to leave early at the beginning of the 4th. I ditched her mid-walk to the car and said I'd find my own way back home as I ran back to the stadium. A very kind security guard let me back in and I found my way to the lower bowl endzone to watch what I have to admit was a magical game. I love the first hand experice of watching the fans in those kind of games.
'08 Wisconsin - Never thought I'd see a bigger comeback than I did in '04, just kept repeating that in various forms as the game unfolded. Not sure this one is a good memory for Michigan fans or not, beginning of the current slump and all on one hand, great game and great coming out party for Rich Rod though.
2012 Michigan State for me. No touchdiwns for M that day, but the aftermath of that game was heavenly.
After Gibboms hit the gane winner, I hugged all the complete stranger M fans sitting around me, hushed the Staee tools behind me that were dogging Denard all day, and participated in storming the field with the students.
That was also the 900th win in Michigan history. Hoping that we aren't out of moments like that in the Hoe era.
Haven't been to very many games since I graduated, but the best game when I was a student was the Brabbs game. Crazy back and forth game with a tense, improbable, last second finish. Not the most important or anything from my time there, but definitely the best.
Like Ace, I really prefer to choose a game while I was a student. There's just something about being in school, being in the student section, the whole thing, that's just irreplaceable. I still love Michigan to death, and in certain ways more than I did when I was younger, but nothing matches that once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For me, that puts Braylonfest (freshman year) and Touchdown Manningham (sophomore year) pretty easily in a 1 & 1-A situation. Both games were classics, great finishes, star performances, the whole nine yards. I'd probably have to give the edge in the end to Braylonfest, since it was freshman year, so the whole experience was still pretty new. Also, I was in row 12 (senior brother studying abroad gave me his tix; best seats I ever had), with that whole 4th quarter and OT playing out right in front of us. To this day, that remains the loudest place I've ever been in my life.
A couple random honorable mentions from other sports: the 2012-13 b-ball conf championship game for the D-III school I study at now. Our tiny gym was packed out, raising the temperature 10-15 degrees above normal. The place shook to its foundations and we stormed the court after a 1-point win. Also, the Michigan/ND hockey game early in 2008, which we came back from an early 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 with less than 30 seconds to go. Great game, insane Yost, and it cemented our status as the #1 team in the land.
For the 1997 season I was in grad school at Carnegie-Mellon and my wife was pregnant, expecting our first in early December. We still had tickets, but I couldn't go to many games that year.
My dad had a guy that worked for him that couldn't use his PSU alumni tickets. So a week before Judgment Day I was calling my buddy to see if he could swing through Pittsburgh on the way to Happy Valley.
By the end of the game, it was obvious to me that we were the best team in the country. Woodson was electric; the entire game was spectacular. Late in the fourth quarter, every so often my friend would shout, "WE ARE" to which I'd reply "NOT GOOD".
Also in the running for me: 1991 Michigan-ND, Braylonfest, and the 1993 Rose Bowl. UTL will also always hold a special place in my heart, particularly because my wife and oldest daughter were with me that night.
Not asked but I'll answer anyway: What was the best game you attended in which Michigan lost? Answer: 1990 Michigan-Michigan State, no Pass Interferance Desmond Mugged on the 2Pt conversion game.
It was an absolute catharsis, Bo and UM beating USC in Pasadena after coming from behind in the second half. It was his second bowl win, and it felt a bit more real than his first win against Washington coming from a depleted Pac-10 a few years before. We had parked next to a couple of young guys in a pickup who had driven all the way from MI, and they were all excited and confident we were going to win. Us older alumni gave them the NSFMF and told them not to get their hopes up. They waited for us until we came back to our cars well after the game, to give us the best and greatest "I told you so!" in my entire life.
The 1998 Rose Bowl was a close second...
UM won some bowl games between the '81 and '89 Rose Bowls.
I second the 1989 Rose Bowl. Beautiful day, beautiful stadium, beautiful win...
Give! The! Ball! To! Leroy!
1969 Michigan 24 Ohio State 12. On to the Rose Bowl. Bye bye Woody!
Michigan House carried home an upright and cut it into rings for all.