[Ed-Seth: This being the 20th anniversary of the 1997 National Championship, Michigan historian Dr. Sap is taking us game-by-game through it. Previously: Those Who Stayed (Colorado); The Hit (Baylor); The Stop (Notre Dame); The Captain’s Down(Indiana); Vengeance (Northwestern), Gut Check (Iowa), Six Picks (Michigan State), The Trap (Minnesota), Judgment (Penn State)]
November 15, 1997: #1 Michigan 26, #23 Wisconsin 16
- also #2 FSU 59, Wake Forest 7
- also also not that it should matter because they should have lost to lowly Missouri last week so they’re not passing Michigan unless Michigan loses or there’s some crazy B.S.: #3 Nebraska 77, Iowa State 14
we’re going transcontinental baby!
Three times since Bo retired, Michigan had been ranked #1 during the season. All three times they had lost the next game. Following their convincing 34-8 victory at Penn State, 9-0 Michigan had finally earned the nation's top ranking in at least one poll – the Associated Press writers' poll that was released on Sunday, the day after Judgment Day. It was the first time in seven years that the Wolverines had earned the top position. In the USA Today / ESPN coaches' poll, the maize and blue moved up one spot to #2, behind Florida State.
"It feels real good," tight end Aaron Shea said. "It's really an exciting feeling. It's hard not to get excited. You just can't think about it. You have to go in like we did at the beginning of the season when no one gave us a chance. Now that we're #1 in the nation, we have to keep the same focus."
Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr, whom the players credited for their ability to avoid a letdown week after week, cautioned his squad against getting carried away by the ranking.
"To be ranked at this point in the season creates a pressure," Carr said. "I'm hoping the team and coaches embrace that pressure and use it to our advantage. Being the #1 team can also make you complacent and give you the feeling you're unbeatable. We aren't unbeatable. I certainly hope we won't become complacent."
In the meantime, the Wolverines were after one thing – the Big Ten title and a trip to Pasadena, California.
"We're a proud group of guys," tight end Mark Campbell said. "The great thing about this team is we know we still have a lot to do. Our goal wasn't to be 9-0, our goal was to go to the Rose Bowl."
Michigan, historically had not handled the #1 ranking very well:
[After THE JUMP: who’s afraid of a big young Sconny back?]