Celebrating Michigan sports history one play at a time

Submitted by M-Dog on November 22nd, 2013 at 12:27 PM
This thread is a total rip off of IronDMK's excellent thread "Changing Michigan football history one play at a time" from yesterday.
This one focuses on the positive side of big plays in Michigan history.  What successful plays changed the history of Michigan sports?  Not just big plays in big games, but plays that changed the very trajectory of Michigan sports . . . plays that define who we are. 
Here are some candidates for consideration:
1991 - Michigan vs. Ohio State football:  Desmond Strikes The Pose.  Like Brandi Chastain in her sports bra, it produced an iconic image that transcends the actual sport itself.
1997 - Michigan vs. Ohio State football:  Charles Woodson's punt return TD.  It broke open a tight game against OSU and provided just enough buffer for a 20-14 win.  After that play, an undefeated season, Heisman Trophy, and National Championship were merely destiny.
1989 - Michigan vs. Seaton Hall basketball:  Rumeal's free throws to win it all in OT.  If you had told anybody that year that Michigan would win the National Championship, on free throws no less, you would have been committed.  It was Michigan's first NC in any team sport since 1960.
1969 - Michigan vs. Ohio State football:  Barry Pierson's punt return down to the 3 yard line in Bo's first game versus Woody. Don Moorhead scores two plays later on an option play, to shockingly put Michigan up 21–12.  It was those 2 plays that put the seed of doubt in Ohio State's mind that this was not going to be the walk over they thought it was going to be.  The win over an undefeated "best college football team ever" Ohio State put Bo's program on the map and launched the Ten Years War.
1996 - Michigan vs. Colorado College hockey:  Brendan Morrison's 3-2 goal 3:35 into overtime to give Michigan its long-elusive National Championship win.  After multiple overtime failures to reach the Frozen Four, and in the Frozen Four itself, Michigan finally gets its breakthrough win, gets the Monkey off Red's back, and gets the Hobey Baker Award to boot.
1990 - Michigan vs. Ohio State football:  Michigan stonewalls Ohio State on 4th and 2 in OSU territory.  The game is tied with Ohio State having the ball in their own territory and time running out.  A tie would prevent Ohio from winning the Big Ten, so Cooper decides go for it on 4th down.  He calls an option play which Michigan immediately shuts down behind the line of scrimmage.  We then kick a short field goal to win the game.  It was this loss that cemented the reputation of Cooper as Michigan's perpetually befuddled pawn.
1950 - Michigan vs. Ohio State football:  The Snow Bowl blocked punt.  With 47 seconds remaining in the first half, Tony Momsen of Michigan blocked a Buckeye punt and fell on it in the end zone for a touchdown.  That was all the "offense" Michigan would need to beat Ohio State in a Rudolophian blizzard of epic proportions.  Every time it ever snows during a football game, we get to see a clip of that punt block against a hapless Ohio State team and its glum frozen fans. 
2013 - Michigan vs. Kansas basketball:  The "Trey".  Up until this season, Beilein had never won more than one game in the NCAA tourney with Michigan.  The breakthrough to finally get out of the first weekend and reach the Sweet Sixteen would have probably been good enough for most reasonable Michigan fans.  But Trey Burke's 3 pointer to tie the game with only seconds left, after being down 12 with under 2 minutes to play, changed the trajectory of the entire season and the program itself.  It was all destiny after that.  The team caught fire and the Final Four seemed almost inevitable.  The National Championship game has put Beilein and his team on the map of elite programs, triggering other programs to rush the court when they manage to beat us in mid-November.  That's rarified air reserved for the Dukes and UNC's of the world.



November 22nd, 2013 at 12:35 PM ^

Woodson's end zone INT against OSU in '97 and Andre Weathers' pick six from the same game. Still my favorite Michigan game to this day. Gray, cold weather, playing on basically a dirt field. Big Ten football, baby.


November 22nd, 2013 at 12:45 PM ^

1997 - "The Hit" vs. PSU on "Judgement Day".  Many experts picked Penn State in this one, but that physical hit set the tone and Michigan blew this game open. Only Ohio State stood in the way of the Rose Bowl after this.


1997 - Woodson's INT vs. Ohio State.  Obviously the punt return is what everyone remembers, but Woodson's critical INT in the end zone was just as big.  Pretty much that entire game for Woodson.


November 22nd, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

You are probably right.  There are not many single plays in isolation that seemed to capture the magnitude and physicality of that game though.  And upon re-watching it on Wolverine Historian's channel I forgot the hit came late in the game.  I thought it was earlier.  I retract the statement.


November 22nd, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

Other recent pearls of wisdom from  Ryno 2317.  I just dont think he likes threads - period. Perhaps he and "I have Gnarly Face" (formally known as Wolverines' Dominate) should get together and spend a happy day torturing small animals or teasing children that look funny to them.

2 days 22 hoursago I know.  I hate when people

I know.  I hate when people pretend that they are "disappointed" in a thread or that it is somehow a waste of their valuable time.  Get a clue.  This entire board is a waste of time and exists only to provide a minor distraction during the day.  Anyone who thinks it is anything more is probably currently a college student. 

2 days 23 hoursago Special kind of stupid going

Special kind of stupid going on in your comment.  I obviously know who Woodson is.  I don't think it is realistic to think that Black's upside is as high as Woodson's considering he is probably the best player ever to wear a Michigan uniform.  That is why I compared him to Law -- who is a stud -- just not at Woodson's level.  Get a clue, Spanky. 



November 22nd, 2013 at 6:11 PM ^

I don't know whether MGoBloggers are naturally prejudiced against us members of the Bar, but among the many things I've learned after suffering numerous insults here is that we have to be prepared to suffer those attacks.  You can be sure that there are many here who -- unless they need our services -- would happily follow the advice of Shakespeare's Dick the Butcher in Henry VI, Part 2 (The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.) . . . .Res Ipsa Loquitur


November 23rd, 2013 at 8:17 AM ^

I dont think that's true.  BiSB is an attorney and he is probably the most well liked poster/mod on the board.  Posters like Ryno get "attacked", not because of your profession, but because they're generally being jerks to other posters.  Go back and read the thread - myself and others called him out for being unpleasant long before HE played the "I'm an attorney" card to somehow justify his being unpleasant.

If anyone brought negative feedback upon attornies in this thread it was Ryno himself.

Brown Bear

November 22nd, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

1991- Michigan vs. duke first game- Duke came out on top in overtime but that game served notice that the Fab Five were the real deal and gave them confidence en route to making their magical tournament run.

The trajectory of the program shot sky high from the Fab Five and sadly the opposite way in part to them but damn that was a fun team and couple years.


November 22nd, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

Yes, I forgot to add that one to the list.  It really was a seminal moment in Michigan sports.
Also, the tip-off itself of the 1992 National Championship game - Five freshman made it all the way to the National Championship game against a senior-heavy Duke team that won it the year before.  Five freshman.  That was all anyone could talk about at the time.    


November 22nd, 2013 at 12:52 PM ^

Re: 1989, we actually were considered a strong national title contender going into the season, and we started out 11-0.  What made us a Cinderella was just the crazy coaching change on the eve of the tournament.


November 22nd, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

Tai Streets's catch-and-run TD in 1996 would have to be on here.  That was the deciding play in the 13-9 win.  I think that game more than anything is what cemented Cooper's reputation as a coach whose teams boasted a lot and never delivered against Michigan.


November 22nd, 2013 at 1:33 PM ^

Those two games were awesome.  

In 1995 they lost because they did not take us seriously enough.  David Boston: "Michigan's just another team."  They were shocked when we came out and punched them in the mouth and they never really recovered.

In 1996 they lost because they took us too seriously.  Even though we were a 17 point underdog, they played incredibly tight.  We did not play well early on, but they still could not get any separation.  When Springs fell down and Griese hit Streets, you could just feel them collapsing mentally.  Even though we only had a 4 point lead, you knew the game was over.  



November 22nd, 2013 at 12:55 PM ^

2000 - Michigan beats Ohio, John Cooper fired.   Seems rather small, but it led to hiring of Tressel and drastically changed the trajectory of the two programs.


November 22nd, 2013 at 1:02 PM ^

I can't think of anything that defined the program. We havent won a national title since '97, and it seems any major changes in the programs trajectory have been negative since. I don't remember much before 1997 anyways. 

Landing Jabrill Peppers?

As for basketball, the Trey may have put the exclaimation point on the basketball turn-around, and may be national view of Michigans return to glory, but Novaks freakout started the whole thing.

And I know the Fab Five thing didn't work out in the end, but those guys changed more than just basketball. I still wear black nike mid length socks. Before the sanctions came down, they could have had our program up with the likes of Dukes, UCLA, UNC, Kansas, etc. by now. MSU may have never risen up from where ever they were since Magic was there. The last 20 years could have been vastly different. And at the time, I am sure the fans felt it. 


November 22nd, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

Good call about Novak's freakout.


I think upsets of UCLA and Duke during Beileins first few seasons showed things were turning around.  Those were big wins.


First NCAA tourney invite in 15+ years was another big milestone, though you can't really single it to one play.




November 22nd, 2013 at 1:25 PM ^

Yes. UCLA in particular. Though UCLA turned out not to be as good as projected, that was the game made me hopeful for the future.

I vividly remember the play that sealed it: Deshawn Sims set a pick at the top of the key, immediately cut to the basket, and Manny threw it into him for an emphatic dunk. It was at that point that I knew the Amaker years were over.


November 22nd, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

The Rumeal Robinson free throw is the biggest positive Michigan play in my lifetime. I mean, how many of us imagined being in that situation to win a championship as a kid in our backyards, and Rumeal got to live it out (and for our own team, no less).  Additionally, how many of the fab five were inspired to play for Michigan by that moment?  No doubt U of M basketball would be a completely different program had that not happened (for better or for worse).

Also, for the pure excitement factor as a lone bright spot in an otherwise dreadful season, the Super Mario catch against PSU deserves mentioning.  Who knows if Lloyd sticks around past that year if we don't have that superb win under our belts that season...


November 22nd, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

It's maybe not as big as the ones above, but the end of the 2011 MSU basketball game at Crisler - featuring Darius Morris dribbling through the entire D and splitting it for a clinching layup (followed by the "GTFO my court") - was a kind of confirmation that the rivalry had changed, that we were done being MSU's doormat.  We had, of course, upset them in Breslin, but most considered that a fluke.  For the game in Crisler, MSU was going to take us seriously, if they hadn't before- there was no mistaking that this time.  But we won, and also also sealed up an NCAA tourney bid in the process.  Since then, the two programs have effectively been on equal footing.