Our last trip to the Sugar Bowl (1-2-84)

Submitted by WolverineHistorian on December 6th, 2011 at 9:57 PM

...the 1983 squad went in to the game with a 9-2 record and #8 ranking. If not for a 25-24 loss to Washington in Seattle on the final play, they would have been ranked in the top 5. What's interesting about that squad was that there wasn't many legacy players on it. It was the year after Anthony Carter graduated and the year before Jim Harbaugh and Jamie Morris would start their UM careers. Senior running back was Rick Rogers and our best receiver was Triando Markray. Quarterback (#16) was Steve Smith. Like Denard, he was shifty, very mobile and ran for a ton of touchdowns. But he was about as popular with fans as John Navarre would later become. Notable wins from that year were a 42-0 win over Sparty in East Lansing and a season ending 24-21 win over the Bucks at the big house. Bob Bergeron also kicked a game winning field goal over Iowa in the final seconds to win 16-13.

Auburn had the great Bo Jackson on their offense and he laughed at the mere thought of us being any kind of a threat. I guess it was a moral victory that we kept him out of the end zone all night. The Tigers, ranked #3, gave up on their passing game but did run the ball on us in the second half. They kicked a field goal with 27 seconds left to beat us 9-7.

Here's our touchdown drive from that night. The only touchdown scored in the game. 




December 6th, 2011 at 10:10 PM ^

I just  remember Brad Cochran almost blocking Del Greco's game winning field goal.  Too bad Vada Murray and Tripp Welborne weren't on the team yet.


December 6th, 2011 at 10:14 PM ^

Bo had used his timeouts when Auburn was setting up for their final field goal.  I believe Marquay caught a pass on the final play and had a long run within FG range.


December 6th, 2011 at 10:31 PM ^

Yes, if he would have gotten out of bounds one second earlier, we would have had a shot at a long field goal - indoors and with a good kicker.  But he was a freshman and not fully game savvy.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:16 AM ^

as a young Michigan fan that I learned to live with disappointment like: the Charles White phantom touchdown; losing at Iowa on a field goal in the mid 80's in a 1 vs 2 matchup; Rickie Foggie beating us when we were undefeated; the BS holding call on the fake punt against USC in Bo's last game; collapsing against Miami (YTM) in the late 80's; Demetrious Brown's 7 interceptions at State; Reggie Ho's 5 field goals; Rocket Ismail's 2 kick returns; MSU tackling Desmond in the end zone, etc, etc. 


December 8th, 2011 at 11:23 PM ^

Damn you Charles White.

Damn you Rob Houghtlin.

Damn you Chip Lohmiller.

Damn you Big Ten refs getting last laugh on Bo with BS holding call.

Ummm...Delirious Brown kinda killed us on his own.

Damn you Reggie Ho.

Damn you UM placekicker inbetween Mike Gillette and Remy Hamilton who kicked the ball to Rocket and whose name I cannot remember.

Damn you Big Ten refs who got first laugh on Moeller and fail to comprehend that tackling is supposed to happen after the ball gets there.

Wow...that's a lot of kickers to be damned.


December 6th, 2011 at 10:25 PM ^

Ah, but we covered the line that night. +6.5 if I recall. I think there were some 7s leading up to the game. Bo was money when getting points. Auburn didn't need to pass; they had Bo Jackson!

The defensive Xs & Os were laid out well. The Tigers moved the ball reasonably well until they got in deep. The field got small and crowded and our defensive discipline stood Bo up.


December 6th, 2011 at 10:26 PM ^

My dad coached on that team, and about a year ago I was digging through all his old football stuff and found the sugar bowl sweater they gave out. Being the 'hipster' teenager I am I wear it all the time to school and get lots of compliments on it. 


December 6th, 2011 at 10:28 PM ^

...notning.  Al Del Greco, who later played for the Packers kicked three field goals.  That was it.  Auburn let Markray catch that late ball and run out of time.  But, beating Ohio in A2 that season was great!

BTW, virtually no one other than Michigan and Auburn fans watched the game because at the same time was Miani's famous upset of Nebraska (when Nebraskia was considered possibly lthe greatest college team ever and went for two instead of one to tie and become the nat'l champ).


December 6th, 2011 at 10:41 PM ^

One of the most frustrating games I ever saw.  We held the mighty Bo Jackson completely out of the end zone, but still lost on field goals.  The headline in the Michigan Daily summed it up: "Defense can't do it all.  Michigan falls 7-9."

We did get a bit of revenge though.  Auburn was #3.  Texas (I think it was Texas) was #2 but had already lost earlier in the day.  Nebraska was #1 but lost to #4 Miami in the Tom Osborne 2 point conversion game.  We made Auburn look so bad that it enabled Miami to leapfrog them to #1 for the first time ever.  It wound up being the start of the "U" era at Miami.



December 6th, 2011 at 10:30 PM ^

I remember that game as being yet another one where Steve Smith couldn't hit the ocean from the beach.  If people today are frustrated with Denard's passing today they have NO idea just how bad it can be.

I am definitely one of the fans the Wolvernine Histornian is referring to when talking about Steve Smith.


December 6th, 2011 at 10:39 PM ^

He took a lot of abuse.  I always felt bad for him.  He was a great runner, but he just was not a true QB.  He was the last of Bo's pure running QBs.  After that was Harbaugh, Brown, Taylor, and Grbac.  They all could run (except Elvis), but they could also throw the ball around some. Toward the end, Bo actually loosened up quite a bit when it came to passing.


December 6th, 2011 at 10:43 PM ^

True story.  My senior year I was in a fraternity and one Saturday night we had a sorority over and he tried to crash the party.  Being the biggest guy in the house I was asked to "escort" Mr. Smith out as it was a closed party.  When i told him he had to go he pulled the "do you know who I am" card and I responded "sure do - that's why you have to go".


December 7th, 2011 at 2:51 AM ^

He was legendary for being out partying the night before games. Bo supposedly a new set of rules designed to keep him in, and they were only moderately successful.

Friends of mine went to that game (I had to go home and work over the break), and they had a spectacular time. Bo Jackson was also supposedly quoted after the game as saying that he had never been hit as hard, as consistently, as he was that night. 

So much for SEC speed, I guess, but that was before oversigning became the rage.


lexus larry

December 7th, 2011 at 9:19 AM ^

Which was known to almost everyone on campus, it seemed.  IMHE, the main reason why he had the abuse rained down on him...

As noted below, he threw a lot of INT's' over his career...

Yeah, Bo J. was quoted as saying after the game that, before the game, Auburn thought our guys were the size of their practice squad, but after, as stated...never hit as hard or as often as M hit him. 

My overwhelming recollection of the telecast was Musberger (UGH!) yapping about how Auburn was undefeated when Bo J. ran for >100 yards, and was counting down through the 4th quarter to the point he got his 100+.

And yeah, I was told that pre-game, Bergeron was booming FG's from the 50 yard line... 


December 6th, 2011 at 10:53 PM ^

Looking at his career stats, Steve Smith threw for 4,860 yards and 42 touchdowns.  He rushed for 1,736 yards and another 31 touchdowns.  He threw 32 interceptions. 

That's actually pretty decent for a QB that was booed by the student section.  But I don't have THAT many of his games on tape and I was a toddler when he played so no personal memories of him either. 


December 6th, 2011 at 11:39 PM ^

in the first half.  He had receivers dropping balls all over the place.  Someone just needed to make a play.  They left points on the field which was frustrating.  The second half was a punt-a-thon until the final desperation drive as I recall.

Steve did lead Michigan to a wild 70-21 victory over Illinois which had one of the wildest first halves I've seen at the big house.  Living in IL, I appreciated that game.  Shut down some very obnoxious people at the office.

Section 1

December 6th, 2011 at 10:31 PM ^

was one of the bitterest losses I can ever recall.  It sent them to the Rose Bowl.  Mike White was so bad; a lot of people think that Bo had a chip on his shoulder re: Illinois because of Gary Moeller.  There's no doubt some truth in that.  But I think Bo really disliked Mike White and everything he stood for.  I have the distinct memory that losing to Auburn wasn't anywhere near as bad as losing to Illinois that year.

North Star

December 6th, 2011 at 11:04 PM ^

were Lionel James and Tommy Agee - together w/ Bo Jackson, was an incredible backfield - M was the only team to hold them w/o a TD that year. 

One other tidbit - Auburn's use of the wishbone inspired Bo to install the package as M's short yardage / goal line package - with Bob Perryman, Dan Rice, Gerald White and Jamie Morris all available for that set, it was very effective. 


Mark G

December 6th, 2011 at 11:35 PM ^

4 things I'll never forget

  1. Having MMB return from that loss in Seattle with The Wave.
  2. Bo hating the wave, which resulted in ridiculous announcements not to cheer during the play, The SHHH Wave, The Silent Wave, and (my personal favorite) The Silent Keys on 3rd Down.
  3. Bergeron's FG - never have I seen anything airborne more that SLOW.
  4. The hit Rogers took on the drive leading up to the FG.  Collective "ohhhh" from the stands.

And I liked Steve Smith - but I was 18!



Elno Lewis

December 7th, 2011 at 9:10 AM ^

Steve Smith bounced his hand off a helmet whilst throwing a pass I believe (they couldn't stop his passing game) or we would have won that game.  Bo Jackson was quoted in the paper the next day saying he felt like he'd just come out of a heavy weight fight.  At first the Auburn team looked across the field and saw what they percieved to be a 'small' Michigan team, and they thought they would run over them.  NSFMF!  Those two teams beat the shiat out of each other that night.  Great game.


Auburn fans were the best.  They bought all my drinks that night at Tipatina's and were very gracious.  I got a kick out of them saying that Alabama had the best team money could buy.

 Attended a pep rally at the hotel where the Wolverines were staying. Blanchard was there and gave a stupid speech--even admitted he and his wife went to MSU and OSU--and got himself booed off the stage with chants of Recall Blanchard! (IT was great).  He was also on the plane on my return trip home--and not first class either, which surprized me.  I guess he was comfortable though. Dude was like 3 feet tall.  His State Police Body guard, however, looked cramped.

A good time was had by all.


December 7th, 2011 at 9:59 AM ^

1983 was the first year my Dad took me to multiple Michigan games, so the '83 squad was the first squad I was really familiar with.  Bo had Smith run a lot of option that year, and we did it pretty well.  This fact always got me rolling my eyes in exasperation whenever the stalwarts during the Rodriguez years would rant and dismiss Rich's offense as a "gimmick" and wasn't Michigan football.  Bo was a lot more innovative and flexible than his reputation gives him credit for.  1983 was great example of Bo taking the parts he had and building a gameplan that would work.

As for the Sugar Bowl, we had Ali Haji Sheikh at PK.  We would've had a GOOD chance at winning had he gotten a crack at that long FG.  Still was frustrating to be the only team to score a TD and lose on 3 FGs.


December 7th, 2011 at 10:16 AM ^

He was all of 6-1 and 222 as a junior that year, according to the UM football database. He was going up against Auburn offensive linemen who were 270 or more, so he was giving up 50 pounds or more.

Moonlight Graham

December 7th, 2011 at 10:17 AM ^

I remember watching very intently and being heartbroken at the end. I even remember Sports Illustrated had a picture of Del Greco kicking the winning field goal with the scoreboard "7-6" in the background with not much time left. I was 14 at the time, and that Auburn game was the first thing I thought of when I heard M was going to the Sugar Bowl.