The Highlights: WolverineHistorian
The Setup: After their season-opening triumph over Notre Dame, Michigan traveled to Williams-Brice Stadium to face 11th-ranked South Carolina, off to a 2-0 start after a breakout 10-2 season in 1984 under coach Joe Morrison. Morrison, who'd taken over in 1983, had quickly injected life into a mediocre program by introducing both a high-flying offense and an intimidating new tradition for home games, described by Bo Schembechler in Bo's Lasting Lessons:
Those men down in South Carolina, they know how to take the field. We were already on the field when I told my guys, "I want you to see this!"
The speakers boomed the theme song from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which builds really slowly. Then they started pumping a thick fog by the players' tunnel, and the crowd started going nuts as the anticipation built.
Our guys were getting jacked up just waiting for them to come out. "C'MON, WHATYA—SCARED? GET ON OUT HERE!" Until finally the Gamecocks came flying out of that tunnel—dressed all in black! I lost my hearing for a few minutes from that music blaring and the crowd screaming. God that was great. That is how you take the field. THAT is college football!
South Carolina's 1984 season was called the "Black Magic" year because Morrison would wear all black on gameday. The 1985 season wouldn't prove worthy of a nickname.
The Game: South Carolina opened the game with another proud Gamecock tradition: nearly decapitating diminutive Michigan running backs. Here's Bo again:
We started the game with the ball and sent Thomas Wilcher on our standard off-tackle play. Their linebacker came in from out of nowhere, and Wilcher's helmet flew off—and he was ready to go! I'm telling you, from the opening kickoff, the entire atmosphere in that stadium was electric.
While Willie Hill's hit didn't make WolverineHistorian's highlight reel, it's preserved elsewhere on YouTube:
Hill may have set the tone, but Michigan more than matched it. The defense shut down an SC offense featuring College Football Hall of Famer and five-time Pro Bowl selection Sterling Sharpe. When Jim Harbaugh opened the scoring with an option keeper near the goal line (GIF'd at top of post), Michigan led the yardage battle with 110 to SC's negative-one.
The triple-option offense would remain effective for the duration. Jamie Morris put the Wolverines up 14-0 when Harbaugh chose to pitch near the goal line; Morris would finish with 95 yards, Wilcher with 104, and Harbaugh with 45 on just seven carries. As a team, Michigan finished with 324 rushing yards on 5.3 YPC.
Michigan's defense proved every bit as dominant as the offense, limiting the Gamecocks to 202 total yards—including just 35 through the air—and forcing four turnovers. South Carolina mustered a field goal at the end of the first half. That would be their only score of the game. Four different Wolverines—Harbaugh, Morris, Wilcher, and Gerald White—tallied rushing touchdowns, and Mike Gillette's two field goals brought the final score to 34-3.
The Harbaugh: As you can tell from the above, Harbaugh didn't need to throw the ball a whole lot. When he did, he moved the ball in solid chunks, finishing 12/22 for 164 yards (7.5 YPA) and one pick. His primary target was 6'8", 240-pound receiver Paul Jokisch, who took advantage of mismatches to tally 115 yards on five catches, including this 41-yarder to set up the game's opening score:
Poor #29 is eye-level with Jokisch's armpit. Hell of a blitz pickup by Morris there, too.
The Most '80s Screencap of the Game:
White pants after Labor Day? Standard uniform in the age of Miami Vice.