Why exactly would we have been behind Nebraska and Oklahoma? Do anti-Big Ten prejudices stretch that far back?
What Year were we closest to playing for a National Championship...but didn't?
We were just always behind them in the polls. A close win over a meh Stanford team wouldn't have put us over the top. A huge win might have possibly done it.
The perception that entire season was that Nebraska and Oklahoma were the two best teams, and neither team did anything that might have changed anybody's mind. The Nebraska-Oklahoma game that year was one of the best games ever played (check it out on ESPN Classic--or the Big Ten Network!?!--next time they show it).
Michigan's strongest regular-season opponents in 1971 were 7-4 Northwestern, 6-4 Ohio State and 6-5 Michigan State. Everybody else--including all 3 of our non-conference opponents--had a losing record that year. Our Rose Bowl opponent wasn't that good either--Stanford was 8-3.
Nebraska and Oklahoma cemented their reputations in their bowl games:
Orange Bowl: Nebraska (11-0) 38, Alabama (11-0) 6
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma (10-1) 40, Auburn (10-1) 22
No way we were going to pass either team, no matter what we did to Stanford.
Ranked #1 in '77 but lost at Minnesota 17-0.
Went undefeated in '92--with three ties. Tied ND b/c Elvis kept throwing the ball to the Irish defenders, especially a pick in the end zone from inside the 10, tied Illinois, and tied O-state b/c Moeller went into a really conservative shell that game.
Could never figure why we went so conservative vs. OSU. Because it made sense vs. Illinois, because the Rose Bowl and title was sealed up with just not losing. But there was nothing to lose vs. OSU. But then, both Cooper and especially Holtz went super conservative in those games to help it along too.
Illinois, I'll never forget, for all the fumbles. We were in the student section chanting "1....2....3...4.....5....WE WANT MMMOOOOOORRRREEE FUMBLES!". I don't think the football team understood sarcasm.
Don't forget that Elvis was knocked out of the game. With a very inexperienced QB (Collins had made a couple of starts against cupcakes) in the Horseshoe, I can't really fault Moeller there.
...but Michigan lost to Minnesota 16-0 that year. I was in 7th grade and can still remember that day pretty vividly.
1992 was painful. I remember that Grbac threw a pick at the end of the game when they were almost in field goal range. Ouch! I also seem to recall a bad PI call against Ty Law that kept ND in the game when Michigan could have put them away.
I was in Columbus for the OSU game (but didn't dare go near the 'Shoe). I think that OSU had lost four in a row against Michigan up to that point and their fans celebrated like crazy after getting a tie. Sorry bastards.
OSU President Gordon Gee: "This tie is one of our greatest wins ever!"
I think that OSU had lost four in a row against Michigan up to that point and their fans celebrated like crazy after getting a tie. Sorry bastards.
Didn't Herbstreit also call it a "great tie?" That was a sorry-ass game against a sorry-ass team.
1980. I think even Bo might have thought that was his best team. What a defense.
And 1988. Barely lost to the #1 and #2 teams in the country. (Reggie freakin' Ho). And actually won a Rose Bowl.
And 1990 is interesting, because even after we lost to ND, it was one of those wacky years, so we were back up at #1 by October 13, vs. MSU. That's why we went for 2 at the end, rather than the tie...to stay #1. Then going for weirdly timed 2 point conversions vs. Iowa cost us that game (one we lost by 1). Two easily winnable games that have us #1 at the end of the season.
But the Desmond game was 1991.
...where Desmond was tackled before the ball involved during the two-point conversion at the end of the game.
I believe he probably was.
But then, I consider "The Desmond Game" a good thing. That's "The Trip" or "The Interference".
Or "Screw Job vs. MSU, Pt. 1".
I personally think of it as "that game."
Admittedly there are a large number of games I think of like that.
1970: It's possible to complain about the officiating, but still UM only had 33 yards rushing. That OSU team clearly had our number that year.
1971: What they said below -- Nebraska was too dominating and withstood too many otherwise undefeated opponents. UM could have been undefeated, but no MNC.
'72: a.) Officiating. Many of us are still convinced Shuttlesworth was over from the waist up on at least one of those goal-line attempts.
b.) '72 was the first year a repeat Rose Bowl in the Big Ten was permitted. OSU was the lesser team and got killed in the Rose Bowl.
'73: We were supposedly kept home because of the injury to Franklin's collarbone. I'm still pissed.
I'd like to bring up '64. UM lost to Purdue at home 21-20. Arkansas was the only team to finish '64 undefeated after struggling to defeat one-loss Nebraska on New Year's Day. Two more points at home for UM might have done it, although many teams didn't lose until after the final polls were taken. It wasn't a regular practice to poll after the bowl games until 1968. The MNC was even stranger then than now.
1968: One-loss UM and undefeated OSU went into the game bearing the same rankings they did in 1973. The only difference was that this turned into the disaster that ended Bump Elliot's coaching career at UM. This horrid game was actually fairly close until the end, in a way wierdly reminiscent of the 40-year re-enactment we endured in 2008; UM actually started the '68 game with a 7-point lead. (Unlike Woody in '60 and '68, Tressel didn't go for two with seconds left and a 30+-point lead.)
'47: ND never went to bowls back in the day. An unprecedented post-season AP poll went back and reversed the existing MNC for ND, giving it to UM. Crisler and Leahy had nice words for each other, but the final result is still debated. A game between UM and ND could have settled it.
Crisler restored the ND-UM matchup for a home-and-away in 1942-3 after an ND victory in the twenties had moved Yost to terminate the rivalry. If I understand, history repeated itself, and Crisler terminated the rivalry again (not to be restored until Bo and Parseghian moved to restore it in the '70's). In '42, an ultimately three-loss UM (one of the losses was to "Iowa Pre-Flight") beat ND at ND; the following year ND handed UM its only loss, at UM. Perhaps '47 would have turned out the same way; at least in '43 the outcome was settled on the field.
Minnesota beat us every year from '38 to '42. Three of those were one-loss seasons for UM; cumulative record '38-'41 is 25-5-2.
That 1999 team was awesome. And even after the loss to MSU, I think we would have played for the MNC if we had beaten that crappy Illinois team. ARGH!
2006, obviously. Even with the loss @ OSU, we still had hopes of being BCS #2 with UCLA's upset and with Arkansas leading UF for a while in the SEC championship.
2003. But for the punting fiascos @ Iowa. That team was something special, and had we not lost to Iowa/Oregon, our game against OSU could've very well been a 1 vs. 2.
2007. Yes, 2007. Not for the win-loss record or the Horror, but for how freakin' loaded up that team was. That's the one year where we left so much potential unfulfilled.
But what might have been...
I was specifically thinking of 99, where we lost because Henson had a horrid first half against MSU, and the "I like them both" experiment ended in the second half for the season,
Actually, Henson was reponsible for our only TD of the first half - an 80-yard strike to Marcus Knight - which was why he got the nod for the second half. And it was not the end of the platoon; it continued the next game against Illinois.
For MSU's Touchdown after throwing an INT deep in Michigan's end of the field in the early 2nd half. Then Brady exploded on MSU for the rest of the half, and the competition, was effectively, over. Didn't say he didn't play at all again, just that the platoon for all intents and purposes was done. Unless going 2-3 for 8 yards vs. 23-38 for 307 seemed like equal distribution. (Henson threw more passes against Northwestern later). Heck, Henson got more yards at RECEIVER than he did passing vs. Illinois.
I think you are misremembering how the platoon went. They never put up an equal number of passes. Each QB played a quarter in the first half, and then the one that fared better went on to play the second half. The MSU game was unusual in that both QBs played both halves, because Henson was benched late in the third. In all other games, one QB played three quarters and racked up much greater stats.
The platoon continued against Illinois (and I'd argue that it was more detrimental to our cause than it was against MSU). Brady played the first quarter and got us out to a 20-7 lead, only to have Henson come in and go three-and-out two straight series. We lost a chance to break the game open, and Brady lost his rhythm when he returned in the second half.
Back to the MSU game, I agree that Henson had a bad third quarter. You stated above that he had a horrid first half. If that had been the case, he'd have never played in the third quarter. Truth is, neither QB played well that day until Brady suddenly caught fire in the fourth quarter.
Edit: Forget it.
Michigan was ranked No. 1 during the regular season both years but were cut down short of perfection at Purdue and at Minnesota.
Still, not sure an unbeaten '76 UM team would have beaten USC in the '77 Rose Bowl. As for the '78 Rose Bowl, if only Stanley Edwards would have caught that pass from Leach....
A lot of ways to go with this. Of course prior to 1998 no one officially "played" for the national title, so in the purest form the question is restricted to those years since when Michigan closest to reaching the BCS title game - 2006.
Other guys mentioned the biggest close-but-no-cigar years. 1925 was arguably Yost's best team (I think he said as much at one point) and got a horrible break in 1925 with the brutal field conditions and the 3-2 loss to NW.
Bump's 1964 team just missed it as mentioned. Bob Timberlake stopped just short on a two point conversion, falling to Bob Griese and Purdue.
There are other outlets that have declared Michigan national champion in more recent years:
1973 - Both the "National Championship Foundation" and "Poling" declared U-M champion.
1985 - Both Jeff Sagarin and "Matthews" slotted Michigan #1.
You may recall that in 2004, USC actually did this kind of exercise, looking back over the years and finally declaring themselves 1939 national champion on the strength the Dickinson system, a formula used to pick the champ in the 30s (including Michigan's back-to-back titles in '32 and '33). They weren't recognized as champs in '39 because the AP poll was the method of choice starting in 1936. USC AD Mike Garrett at the time, I love this:
“It was brought to our attention by various individuals that we should be claiming the 1939 Trojans among our national champions in football,” said Garrett. “We took this matter seriously, did significant research and determined this to be true."
More on this stuff here:
2006 2006 2006 2006 2006 2006 2006 2006
Let's rewind and think about the team Michigan had that year going into the game vs Ohio State
-the future #1 draft pick and likely the best OL in the history of Michigan football
-the #1 passing leader in the history of Michigan football
-the #1 rushing leader in the history of Michigan football
-the #1 rushing defense in the history of college football
-the #1 statiscal leader in punt and kick returns in the history of the Big 10
the passing of Bo the night before hurt Michigan and its fans everywhere
long length grass to stop Mike Hart's cutting ability, uncharacteristic late start at 330pm after years of 1200pm games, etc, etc
I could go on, I'm sure. I hate thinking about the 06 game for a lot of reasons. I hate how a lesser OSU team beat Michigan. I refuse to believe OSU was a better team top to bottom that year, Michigan was upset. I fully believe Michigan would have beaten Florida. Michigan would've pounded them in the running game, something that worked for OSU when they did run the ball vs Florida. OSU tried to match their speed with 4 and 5 wide, not realizing that speed was Florida's strength. I am still mad about this game.
Let's keep in mind that that "lesser" OSU team had been ranked #1 the entire season. Their starting QB won the Heisman. They averaged more points per game than us and surrendered fewer on defense. And they led for virtually the entire game, usually by double-digit margins, even though we were +3 in turnovers. To say that we were upset that day is looking at it with maize-and-blue glasses. (And while I loved Henne and Hart, they weren't necessarily our best QB and RB ever. They set records because they happened to start for four years.)
do you realize how young that OSU defense was? do realize how young their team was compared to Michigan? experience wise, that OSU team was WAY behind Michigan. OSU was throttled by Florida in every way conceivable. the fact that Michigan's great defense couldn't find a way to slow down OSU's offense that was dominated by Florida's defense baffles me still today. OSU didnt even belong on the field vs Florida in 2006. they looked like a JV team playing the varsity.
OSU had a sophomore dominated defense compared to Michigan's number 1 rush d in the history of college football.
I think the game came down to a complete and utter implosion by the Michigan defense, specifically the secondary. i wish i could read the defensive UFR right to see what our defense was doing that game.
dont forget Mario Manningham sitting out part of that year as well. points likely increase just by his presence on the field.
simply put, i think 2006 Michigan played a game like the great 1990's teams of OSU did when they came up to Ann Arbor. nobody thought Michigan would win half of those games vs OSU. the Wolverines literally stopped OSU from playing in at least 2 national titles that decade. imo OSU got Michigan back in 2006.
Are you serious with this take on 2006? ,That great rush defense you keep talking about surrendered 187 yards that game, 6.4 per carry. I distinctly remember a young beanie wells ripping off a 50+ yard td run against that amazing rush D. They also passed for 316 yards on us and amassed 503 yards. Bottom line, they beat us and they were the better team. Kind of like they've been nearly all decade.
well, its not hard for me to admit some of those 90's OSU teams were better than the Michigan teams that beat them. i dont think its too crazy to say that the 06 Michigan team came to Columbus and did the same thing.
i think you would hear the same thing from the entire 06 Michigan team.
forgive me if i come across angry. i think its obvious that im still bitter about that game. i live in Ohio, and you can imagine how much i deal with now because past great OSU teams went to Ann Arbor just to see their national title hopes end.
I grew up in Cbus and lived their most of my life, so believe me, I know what you mean. I thought the 2006 team was great, but I thought OSU was the better team that year. I've thought OSU was the better team throughout the 2000s, except for 2003. I knew we were the better team that year and it showed on the field.
Yes, they were young on defense. That doesn't change the fact that OSU was #1 all regular season and that its defense outperformed ours in most measures. I don't know how you can argue that that game was an upset. No oddsmaker favored us.
not in terms of what oddsmakers say, i think it was in terms of who was on the rosters. michigan had better players, more experience, more pro talent across the board and that is a fact.
i just think its alright for a Michigan fan to make that declaration based on the above evidence, especially when the same thing happened to superior OSU teams coming to Ann Arbor in the 90's.
I have no idea how you can compare a #1-ranked, undefeated OSU team with one of our 4-loss teams from the mid-'90s. And honestly, what's the point? Do you feel better if you convince yourself that we were better than them in '06 and blew it?
all i did was compare the outcomes based on the difference in talent, age, and experience on both teams.
yes, OSU wasnt a 4 loss team in 2006. however, they were much younger than Michigan, much more inexperienced, and had less pro talent, and less contributing future pro talent across the board.
But because it isn't, I'll agree with '85 and '06
You have to throw Bo's final season in there for contention.
In 1989 the records of the top 3 teams in the nation going into the bowls were:
MIAMI (10-1): A 24-10 loss to Florida State
NOTRE DAME (10-1): A 27-10 loss to Miami
MICHIGAN (10-1): A 24-19 loss to Notre Dame. (We dominated the stats but Rocket Ismail's 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns was the difference.)
Miami and Notre Dame lost at the end of October and November. Michigan had won 10 straight games. Sports commentators said the only way Miami could get the national title was if USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. That's what happened after the ref called the phantom holding on us on Chris Stapleton's fake punt as we prepared to put the game away while tied 10-10 in the 4th quarter. Once the flag was thrown, Bo exploded and had numerous flags thrown on him. That set up the game winning score for USC.
We win that game, we get at least a share of the national title. Instead, it all went to the Canes.
One of those if not both teams should have won it
Well in 1971 I believe we lost to Stanford by 1 point and ended up 11-1