Worst Win Ever?

Submitted by Elno Lewis on July 26th, 2009 at 1:24 PM

You see often the laments of fans over Michigan loses that shoulda, woulda, coulda been a victory. If only this, or if only that. (Cordell Stewart) (Crable!) (Charles White!) (Sheridan!) (Troy!) (Vince!) (Dixon!) (Edwards!) (Rocket!) Whatever. While such games exact a pain that never seems to dull, those do not hold a candle to the 2008 Capital One Bowl Game. That game, at least to me, is the most wrenching.

Allow me to explain.

Michigan was not supposed to win that game. The Michigan defense had yet to prove it could slow down yet alone stop a spread offense, and the Urban Meyer brand Florida Spread scored over 40 points 9 times that season and 49 points 6 times. Tim Tebow won the Heisman, the Maxwell, the O’Brian and the AP Player of the year. They had Percy Harvin, who when healthy, was supposedly unstoppable. And, this is basically the same team that came back in won the NC the following season, though who they played slips my mind at this time. AND the game was being played in Florida. Many Florida fans live in that state. Indeed, the Gators would go on to have a very good game. 399 yards of offense, 3 td passes, Harvin had over 200 yards of total offense himself, NO TURNOVERS, and aside from their secondary they had a great game.

The Blogosphere was crackling with loss scenarios. Most of them gruesome. Even the Michigan Otherwise Fanatics are casting doubts and sighing the sigh of death. That loss at the end of the season to that team with the really good players is still stinging. Lloyd is leaving. Rich Rod and twenty miles of bad controversy have arrived. (Even though the proverbial dam had yet to burst.) The curse of a billion kittens and swimming fowl hung in the air like the exhaust from a city bus on a hot summer day.

Then finally the teams stepped onto the field. The Gators are talking trash. The Wolverines bark right back. Wow. I truly wasn’t expecting trash talk in the Cap One Bowl, but yeah, its on.

And ON it was. 524 yards of offense, 10 of 15 3rd down conversion, 28 first downs, 373 passing yards, 151 rushing yards, 32:18 time of possession. And…

Ipso facto:

Adrian Arrington 9 153 2 37

Mario Manningham 5 78 1 24

Carson Butler 1 65 0 65

Greg Mathews 7 62 0 18

Well, that is SPREADING in around.

41 points. Hart’s two fumbles excluded, its more like 55 points. Remove those two interceptions and who knows.



Thanks to the fine work by U of M Historian (with an assist from Wiki) it is possible to travel back in time and see a good portion of the Capital One Bowl. It is a good idea, as well. Stats don’t show one-handed grabs, around the back grabs and in traffic grabs--and a bunch of most excellent other plays.

Worst win ever? Yeah, because I can’t stop wondering the what if’s on this team. Morgan Trent ran down Percy Harvin and made numerous big plays and big hits! Heck, the D gave up some yards but they were hitting like monsters and making everybody pay. The O gave up four turnovers and never quit--in basically, Florida‘s backyard. Everybody was catching the ball and blocking downfield. Carson Butler went 65 yards! Henne was 25 of 39. Hart was pounding like a sledge hammer on sandstone. The line were blocking like they were defending Mt. Olympus. It was pizza power gone mad! All these things, all this great talent blooming in the last game of the year, and the last game ever for U of M by many of these guys. And not one Big Ten title between them. Oh well, stuff like that happens I guess.

Besides, 4.25 million is a chunk of change to bring home.



July 26th, 2009 at 3:16 PM ^

Not a Michigan game, but UCLA over USC 2006 was the biggest tease I can think of...

I remember going wild with my buddies at a sports bar; we thought Michigan would get the rematch.


July 26th, 2009 at 8:59 PM ^

I ran down to the corner of Main and Stadium waving a block-M flag. I thought we had it. One muffed punt return later...

Also not Michigan but the Lions going 4-0 in the preseason was a pretty big tease.... although tempered by my indomitable pessimism regarding the Lions


July 26th, 2009 at 3:31 PM ^

While I agree Florida probably should have won, I absolutely loved how the team came out and gave it all they had. Players were flying around, the catches were sweet, it was great. Sadly, those were happier times.

UofM Snowboarder

July 26th, 2009 at 4:16 PM ^

Yeah... how is this a 'wrenching win'?

The team stepped up, when everyone was talking down about them, and kicked the hell out of a very respectable team. How in the world do you regard this as a bad win?

All of the factors you've mentioned (our players making big plays, outplaying a supposedly 'better' opponent, etc.) would, to me, and most other sane people, make it a very good game.

-1 to you.


July 26th, 2009 at 6:32 PM ^

Because of how we took it to Florida. Because of the all around domination that we had over Florida. He means it was disheartening because of how good that we looked and how horrible that we looked earlier in the year.

If we played like that all year we would have won the National Championship. Why did we wait until the last game to "unleash the beast".

That's why IMHE he calls this the worst Michigan win. Personally I'd say Ball State was pretty horrible too.


July 27th, 2009 at 10:57 AM ^

You don't think with NFL players at every position on the offense (except OL) and with the talent on the D-line that we wouldn't have had a chance at the NC?

I guess I was a bit too much of a homer but we should have contended for a NC that year and we were out of it after the first game.

IME that is why the poster says that that game was the worst win in a long time because it showed exactly what this team was capable of.

Tha Stunna

July 27th, 2009 at 12:00 PM ^

NFL players at every position on the offense except the OL? Whatever happened to that Jake Long guy? I thought he was gonna be good, but I guess he never lived up to his potential.*

Anyway, it's hard for me to understand why our best win since 2005 was supposed to be the worst win in the past 5 years, let alone forever. I'd go with Ball State or some similar scenario of nearly throwing the game away against a bad team... although it's hard for that to mean much when we actually manage to throw the game away against a bad team these days.

*I use sarcasm on teh interwebz


July 27th, 2009 at 12:24 PM ^

Anyway, it's hard for me to understand why our best win since 2005 was supposed to be the worst win in the past 5 years, let alone forever.

I was ecstatic after this win, and I'm assuming all of the people proposing this as the worst win were as well. However, it was impossible to celebrate it without thinking, where the hell was this offense against Appy St? If the offense that put up 41 points versus ESS EEE SEE speed could have done that against a I-AA defense, we would have been spared The Horror despite all the problems on defense. So, it was a good win, but also one that left me thinking about what might have been (or what might not have been I guess). I'm not talking national championship or anything (I don't think anything the offense did would have mattered against Dennis Dixon repeatedly strolling to the end zone), but the Citrus Bowl was prime evidence that we shouldn't have lived through the worst loss in the history of ever.


July 26th, 2009 at 4:16 PM ^

The one game all year that team played to its potential (and beyond) is somehow the worst win ever?

How exactly does that make sense?

Seriously, that game was distilled awesome. Griping about it is crazy.

IND Mich Man Blue

July 26th, 2009 at 5:11 PM ^

What I think is amazing about the Flordia game is how Michigan took it to em. My memory might be a tad fuzzy but I can't remember a time when Hart took a handoff from the shotgun position in a game let alone doing it almost every time. Never did understand where the game plan came from.

Big Boutros

July 26th, 2009 at 7:57 PM ^

You're not wrong--Michigan's performance in that game against the Heisman winner and bookend national champions was tantalizingly one-shot--but I guess I never remember victories with that mindset. I'm still glad we won that game to send Lloyd out with a bowl win. Happy times.


July 26th, 2009 at 9:22 PM ^

I agree with you, Boutros, and the OP. I loved watching the game and I watched it again earlier this month (Love mgovideo). But how about looking at that game while realizing the amount of players who contributed but would not return the next year? Even the back up QB would not return. Every skill player. So it kind of added false hope, as well as the "what might have been" element.


July 26th, 2009 at 8:18 PM ^

I think a bigger tease than the Wisconsin comeback last year was going up on Illinois 14-3 early in the following game.

At that point, I thought 7-8 wins was entirely possible.


July 27th, 2009 at 10:26 AM ^

"and Lloyd Carr gets the free ride."

I'm tearing up.

I think Ball State is up there among the members of the "almost blew a gimme game" category, all of which could be considered gut-wrenchers.

One that comes to my mind is Penn State '05, which was nigh unwatchable during a 0-0 first half. Then the 2nd half burst open for PSU. Michigan wasted so many opportunities, I was convinced we'd lose, until "MANNINGHAM-MICHIGAN wins!"

Notre Dame 1999 was a rough affair -- Brady and co. were supposed to kill the Irish (and we were supposed to finally see this Justin Fargas kid -- the McGuffie of ten years ago), but they kept staying in the game, and just ran out of time at the very end.

As for the aforementioned rough weather category, anyone else remember the Northwestern game in 1998? It was the tuneup game to Ohio State, and Michigan had been rolling so strong we actually believed the Syracuse/Notre Dame trip-ups early on were a fluke. Then came the 12-6 win over Northwestern (supposedly back to non-factor status at that time). I watched that with the WISE* girls on the top floor of Mosher Jordan -- not exactly the best game to introduce 18-year-old women engineers to the joy of football.

* Women in Science and Engineering


July 27th, 2009 at 1:23 PM ^

1. You play terribly and win a game that you had no business winning against a team that had no business being in the game, much less outplaying you. (Example: Michigan against Ball State. This might be a slight overstatement, as you did outgain them by 200 yards, but it fits the "we almost lost to a team that we should beat the tar out of" mold.)
2. The game is so ugly that both teams should be ashamed to have participated in such a disgrace. (Examples: Auburn-Miss State last year, the 6-4 Iowa-PSU game, PSU beats Illinois 38-33 ... in basketball.)
3. A win that sets you up for disaster down the road. Hard to think of any examples of this, as they're not usually as painful except in hindsight, but a win in which a key starter gets injured could fit the bill.

Michigan over Florida doesn't fit any of these.