1997 Michigan vs. 1997 Nebraska Poll

Submitted by GehBlau on March 22nd, 2012 at 9:09 AM

There's a poll over at ESPN for which team is better: 1997 Michigan or 1997 Nebraska. I don't know why, but this debate has always gotten me worked up. So go and vote or discuss below. Or get those voting drones we had for the football traditions poll. Yeah go get those drones.



-Michigan (AP Nat Champs, 12-0)- wins against 7 top-25, and 4 top-10 teams. 


-Nebraksa (Coaches Nat Champs, 13-0)- wins against 4 top-25, and 2 top-10 teams.


-Common opponents: Michigan beat Colorado 27-3 and Baylor 38-3. Nebraska beat Colorado 27-24 and Baylor 49-21.





March 22nd, 2012 at 9:19 AM ^

I never realized the wins against top 25/ top 10 and common opponent arguments before. Now, it's REALLY obvious who the better team was...not like we didn't know before!


March 22nd, 2012 at 9:20 AM ^

Wow, that percentage difference is ridiculous.  I call on the power of the MGoBlog community to win this meaningless poll!  Commence bot attack!


March 22nd, 2012 at 9:30 AM ^

And don't forget that crazy last-second kick-the-ball-up-while-falling-in-the-endzone-with-subsequent-catch to tie the game and send it to overtime (& eventual win) over Missouri. Mizzou would finish 7-5 that year.

Wolverine 73

March 22nd, 2012 at 12:19 PM ^

How anyone could vote for Nebraska over Michigan that year when it was only by virtue of the luckiest bounce this side of Franco Harris's immaculate reception that Nebraska did not lose to a medicore Missouri team is beyond me.  Of course, lest we forget, the TN coach (Phil Fullmer?) was the one who allegedly switched his vote from M to N after the bowl games, supposedly in part because he was pissed that Woodson beat Peyton for the Heisman.  I have hated TN since then, and always root for bad things to happen to that team.


March 22nd, 2012 at 9:37 AM ^

Never forget that in the waning seconds of the 1997 Nebraska / Missouri game, Nebraska was poised to lose before the Nebraska receiver kicked an incomplete pass into the air only to be grabbed miraculously by another Nebraska player for a touchdown.  Ball game.  One of the luckiest, fortuitous plays you'll ever see in football.  The play is a close call as to whether the kick catch is legal---it hinges on the intent of the player who kicks the ball.  The officials concluded that it was difficult to conclude whether the player intentionally kicked it, so the play, the touchdown and Nebraska's undefeated season stood.

Michigan had no such close call/controversial victory and this half of an asterisk, if you will, should have factored into the final poll.  A win, is a win, is a win, but a win delivered by sheer happenstance and an arguably correct officiating call on the last play?   That should have diminished Nebraska's season to a slight extent in the eyes of subjective voters.

*If I remember correctly, I also believe Mr. Paterno voted Nebraska higher than UM in his final Coaches Poll ballot and then I believe he professed confusion about the issue after the fact.

03 Blue 07

March 22nd, 2012 at 10:56 AM ^

The receiver was named Matt Davison; he was Caucasian and wore #3 and was Nebraska's only receiver who seemed remotely decent, though I think they might have had a converted QB named Bobby Newcombe with some speed who wore #12. I'm pretty sure that when Frost dropped back to pass, he'd just lock in on Davison the entire time, making it obvious. Nebraska had to drive the ball with the pass late in that game, which was, ahem, interesting. Mizzou was pretty decent for the first time in years behind Colby Jones, their QB, who was a bit of a dual-threat guy. Mizzou was terrrrrible forever, and started to sort of come around in the late 90's. That game helped them a lot, even though they lost.


March 22nd, 2012 at 11:34 AM ^

It's the same situation. The clock stops when the ref signals it, not when the ball hits the ground.  Even if you spike it with a second left, it takes a second to signal. That's why you can't do it in that or the MSU situation.

Which disregards the fact that the play never should have happened, because the only way they got even close was an obvious offensive pass interference on the play before where the ref ate the flag.


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:35 PM ^

Once the umpire signaled for time to start, it took about a second and a half for Leaf to even snap the ball.  The exact same thing happened to Wisconsin in this year's Rose Bowl.  The only way you can snap and down a ball in only one second is to have the center snap the ball immediately upon the official starting the clock, and that absolutely did not happen. 


March 22nd, 2012 at 10:06 AM ^

The ONLY thing that got Nebraska a piece of the 'ship that year was Osbourne announcing his retirement. We were sooo dominant that year, it wasn't even funny


March 22nd, 2012 at 10:13 AM ^

Guys we're going to lose this poll. Why? Because of the rest of the Big Ten. Nobody hates Nebraska as much as they hate us, so groups like MSU, TSIO, and Illinois are going to vote Nebraska just to spite us

03 Blue 07

March 22nd, 2012 at 10:58 AM ^

Perhaps. Or, it would be because on paper that year, Nebraska was a killer team. Their offense was also pretty scary with Frost, Ahman Green, and a decent fullback (Mackovicka?).  I remember thinking at the time that Nebraska would win. I was young and foolish, obviously, and have changed my thinking in that regard.

Ali G Bomaye

March 22nd, 2012 at 3:19 PM ^

I think '97 Michigan was the better team, because we had a historically great defense and Nebraska's defense was rather soft at times.  But the "NFL Careers" argument is a terrible way of assessing the quality college teams who don't run NFL schemes, as you should know from watching Denard the past few years.


March 22nd, 2012 at 10:13 AM ^

We would have won by a couple tochdowns. Why? Not because I'm a homer, but because Nebraska literally could not pass the ball. They depended on the run, we werre fantastic against the run that year, and a one dimensional team would have had zero chance against us. Not even close.


March 22nd, 2012 at 10:23 AM ^

"Michigan had been #1 all season"  if by all season you mean the final 2 weeks and the month of inactivity.  We were #5 going into the game against PSU when nebraska needed an illegal kicked ball to win in overtime.  The polls were still close until after the OSU game. 


March 22nd, 2012 at 10:56 AM ^

Don't forget that Nebraska's half was from the coaches poll where Fulmer voted Michigan I think 4th in apparent retaliation for Woodson taking the Heisman from de facto recipient Peyton Manning. 

I believe the story went that if he had voted Michigan just second, the coaches poll would have awarded the Wolverines the title as well.


March 22nd, 2012 at 11:26 AM ^


Seriously?  Of course Nebraska will win this poll or any other poll on this topic. Their fans are insane, they have only ONE game in town, they are calling cousins, grandmas, etc. to vote and are probably creating multiple accounts on ESPN so they can vote 10-20 times. I'm guessing workplace productivity goes down 80% in Lincoln today so folks can work on winning this thing. Seriously, besides shucking corn there is nothing else to do.

There are only three factors that any rational person can use in this argument: 1. common opponents 2. talent 3. schedule

We win all three HANDS-DOWN. 

Farmhouse Funk

March 22nd, 2012 at 11:43 AM ^

I remember in 94 when Nebraska was #1 and PSU was #2 going into their bowl games Osbourne saying that it did not matter what each team did in the bowl game as long as the #1 team wins their bowl they should stay number 1.

Then 3 short years latter, Michigan is #1 and NU #2 going into their bowl games and Osbourne says that they need to take into effect what each team does in the bowl game to determine who is number 1.

Also I remember reading about how NU said it was important to beat Colorado by a better score then Michigan to prove they were the better team. Well that didn't quite work out for them.


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:24 PM ^

In general Nebraska v. Colorado was a rivalry game and in, he 90s it was a heated one. And the last game of the year... Not gonna compare it to Mich v OSU. But as a Michigan fan that lived in Nebraska during that era I would say that isn't a good point to compare our mutual opponent Colorado.


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:02 PM ^

I won't dignify this poll by voting in it. The coaches poll is such a stupid concept to begin with. We had the better team, we won the National Title. End of story.


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:27 PM ^

To me, the kicked-pass reception TD isn't even relevant. Michigan went undefeated against a tougher schedule. Therefore, Michigan accomplished more on the field in '97 and deserved the title for that reason alone.


March 22nd, 2012 at 1:04 PM ^

This stuff still bothers me about 97 and how they just gave Osbourne a good bye present, no team up till then had been #1 and won there bowl game them had to split the championship

Stop if already


March 22nd, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

I'm kind of over this now. It's hard for me to hate Nebraska now that they're in the B1G, and their fanbase seems to have a sense of class, dignity, and general well-manneredness that the fan bases of our two main rivals lack. Also, their program has been through hell and back since '97, so there's that. 

The '97 debacle seems to rankle Penn State fans more than it rankles us. 


March 22nd, 2012 at 4:20 PM ^

were the comments from people who claimed there was parity in the Big 8 and Big 10 in the 70s, and to prove this odd claim they remembered Bill Snyder at KSU and top-5 games between Michigan and Hayden Fry's Iowa.

It's an odd historical disconnect, and it's interesting to me that it's how people who weren't around for that history have compressed it away. 70s? 90s? All the same ancient history.


March 22nd, 2012 at 5:21 PM ^

This is a ridiculous poll and just reflects other programs fans are bias against us. Everyone loves to hate Michigan. Look at ESPN, they seem to hate UofM and love when they dont succeed. It does not matter what the rest of the fan bases believe. We won the National Championship and had to split it because a bunch of loser coaches didnt know their A++holes from a hole in the ground. The common opponent and schedule says enough to me. It should be overturned and their share of our EARNED NC should be restored to it's rightful owners, US! GO BLUE!


March 22nd, 2012 at 7:15 PM ^

demonstrates why the BCS got started in the first place (in addition to the 2 main reasons: $$$$$ and SEC desires for NCAA football hegemony). Let's hope a fair playoff system won't take as long a time to develop.