Question about the 1979 Michigan-Indiana game

Submitted by SportsBrewKings on July 26th, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Without giving too much boring information, I live in South Carolina and my parents are big Clemson fans. I miraculously became a Michigan fan after seeing Desmond strike the pose in 1991. I was 6. I've been obsessed ever since.

I've seen the 1979 highlights countless times but growing up in SC and not being able to attend my first Michigan game until 2006, I don't get to talk Michigan football history with many people, aside from MGoBlog, forums, etc.

Was there anything significant about the Indiana game of 1979? I realize how ridiculously awesome Wangler to Carter is by itself but is there any storyline behind that game? I've just always wondered if that game had more context or if it was simply a great moment in Michigan football history. Can anyone help?



July 26th, 2010 at 4:58 PM ^

I'm the same age as you so I can't help much but I wanted to ask a Carter-related question to the MGoCommunity.  It probably doesn't need its own thread so I'll post it here.

Is it common knowledge that AC quit the team for a few days his freshman year?  I just finished reading "Bo" and Bo talked about sending his coaches to the airport in "FBI!  STOP THAT PLANE!" fashion to try and prevent him from leaving?  I guess he did end up going home for several days before changing his mind.  Is this common knowledge for you older (than me) guys?

Section 1

July 26th, 2010 at 5:09 PM ^

at the time; at least I didn't.

The incedible story for me in regard to that game is the play that preceded it.  The penultimate play.  (Look it up.)  I almost don't want to spoil it for anybody who has never seen it.  We've all seen Carter streaking over the middle, the Hoosier d-back getting a piece of AC, Anthony bouncing, spinning away, and racing into the endzone.  Everybody's seen the replay 100 times.

The play right before it, to stop the clock and give Wangler one more chance.  That one still blows my mind.  And it is one of the things that made the final play even more unbelievable.


July 26th, 2010 at 5:08 PM ^

The game was not important; it was just a great ending.  Many people forget that the play before the last one was VERY important.  The game would have ended had Lawrence Reid (the father of the recent Lawrence Reid) not basically lateraled the ball to the Indiana Coach (who was Lee Corso) to (illegally) get the clock to stop.  The refs allowed it and then there was time for that one last play.


July 26th, 2010 at 5:11 PM ^

Well, IU sucked and Michigan was having a decent season and was pissing this game away. UM was down I believe by 4 or 5 points and needed the TD to win. The season ended with a Gator Bowl victory if I remember right, but in 1980, we won the Big Ten and Bo got his first Rose Bowl victory on 1/1/1981!



July 26th, 2010 at 5:20 PM ^

Actually IU game into this game 5-2 compared to Michigan's 6-1.  I don't think there was that much hype since Bo had never lost to Indiana and Michigan was the favorite.  The score was tied when Carter caught the winning touchdown, so the play prevented Michigan from tying Indiana, not getting beat by them.

Also, Michigan lost the Gator Bowl to UNC that season, but Bo did go on to win the Rose Bowl the following year.


July 26th, 2010 at 5:39 PM ^

IU was actually pretty good in 1979.

The game itself was a dull, boring affair with UM playing very uninspired ball and wasting opportunity after opportunity.  IU scored very late and played for the tie by kicking the extra point - instead of going for two and the win.  There was no OT in those days.  UM's final drive came immediately after the IU kickoff and the stadium was emptying out quickly in anticipation of the tie.

Others here mentioned Lawrence Reid's intentional "fumble" out of bounds to stop the clock and the play before the Wangler to Carter pass.  During and after the play, the stadium erupted - but that included probably only 70k - 80k fans.  The rest were gone.

In the end, Lee Corso - yes, that Lee Corso - got what he deserved by gutlessly kicking the point, but that was NOT a classic game.  It was only a classic play (or two plays) at the end of a dull, disappointing game.


July 26th, 2010 at 8:49 PM ^

It was Lawrence Reid, not Lawrence Ricks, who threw the ball to Corso.

Reid (#23) was a senior in 1979 and had 12 carries for 99 yards in the IU game.

Ricks (#46) was a freshman in 1979 and did not have a carry against IU.

Stats are available at in the football section.


July 26th, 2010 at 5:45 PM ^

I was at the game. If memory serves (and it frequently doesn't), Michigan was up a TD late in the fourth. A typically bad Indiana team, coached by Lee Corso, drove down and scored in the end zone at my (student) end. It was tied, not Michigan behind -- no OT back then. There was a minute at most left.

Michigan moved to midfield heading for the far end. There was time for one more play. I was so disgusted that I was busy stuffing the Stroh's cans I'd emptied into the 12 pack so I could get the deposit. I looked up and saw the ball in the air but I figured I couldn't see where it was coming down anyway. Then the stadium exploded. I didn't see the catch and score until Michigan Replay the following morning.

The poster above is correct: it was the play before to stop the clock that was so astounding, though at the time it was baffling (no doubt the result of those Stroh's). No scoreboard replays in those days. I remember it as Russell Davis, but someone corrected me and said it was Lawrence Ricks who did the deed. As the man says, look it up...


July 27th, 2010 at 1:51 AM ^

on a bomb to IU's best player/wr. In fact Mich had outplayed IU in what would have been a hum-drum 21-7 win but for two IU bombs. And, yes, down 21-20 after the TD, Corso opted to kick the PAT for the tie.

Also of note, earlier in the drive, Mich faced a 4th & 2 at it's own 30-35, which Bo elected to go for (& of course, Mich converted).

Also, keep in mind that Bo's 70s teams were running machines that passed every once in a while. That it was able to score on the last play when everyone knew it was coming was highly unusual.

Also, in regards to the Gator Bowl, Winger Wangler was on fire in the 1st qtr, throwing for something like an unheard of 200 yds on the way to a lead of (only) 9-0. But then hid leg was broken (by Lawrence Taylor, I believe)and the offense sputtered. We wouldn't score again until the very end to draw within 17-15. Alas, the 2 pt conversion failed, and we lost.

Section 1

July 26th, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

Tell your mom and dad that the most awesome performance I have ever seen in Michigan Stadium by an opposing player was George Rogers of South Carolina the following season, in 1980.  I forget what his total yardage was for the day; it wasn't a lot, on paper.  But I remember watching him, against a really great Michigan defense, and it looked like a 12th grader, playing against 7th graders.  In truth, I think Rogers was about 22 or 23 years old as a Gamecock senior, and he probably should have been playing in the NFL.

At the end of the year, we found out how good he was.  They gave him the Heisman.


July 26th, 2010 at 9:45 PM ^

I can't even fathom the thought of mentioning George Rogers to my father. He would disown me. His allegiance to Clemson forbade anyone in the house from mentioning his name.

My parents are actually pretty cool. They watched a 6 year old little boy turn into a Michigan Wolverine out of nowhere. They couldn't understand why their sweet precious boy right in the middle of Clemson country wasn't a Tiger...much less why he was a Wolverine fan.

I actually took them to the Big House for a game in 2008. My dad said something like this:

(Paraphrased) "Clemson might be louder and the fans might get into it a little more, but I have never been to a stadium like this. Its like hallowed ground."

You go Pops.

El Jeffe

July 26th, 2010 at 5:21 PM ^

I think that it was less an important game to win (although they're all important in the B10, uh, B11--er, B12) as the avoidance of a bad loss [EDIT: I mean tie]. IU was 4th in the conference that year, the Wikipedias tell me, but it was Homecoming against a perennial tomato can, so it would have been semi-humiliating.

Michigan was 6-1 going into that game, BTW (with the loss being a stomach punch 12-10 loss to ND). UM finished the season with three straight losses, at Purdue, home against OSU, and in the Gator Bowl against UNC (who featured a fella you may have heard of goes by the moniker LT).


July 26th, 2010 at 5:30 PM ^

The kicking game in 1979 gave Bo nightmares for many years. 

The game winning field goal against Notre Dame was blocked and we lost 12-10.  Granted, the kick was blocked because an Irish defender stood on the back of another player to get high enough to block it - a rule in college football that was changed within 2 years. 

The Ohio State game was a win until the bucks blocked a punt for a touchdown in the 4th QR giving them the edge 18-15.

John Wangler injured his knee in the first quarter against North Carolina in the Gator Bowl and that gave the Heels just enough to beat us 17-15. 

All the losses were close heartbreakers that year.

Bill in Birmingham

July 26th, 2010 at 5:23 PM ^

I was there (my junior year). That was a very disaappointing season (I think we went 8-4 ) largely becasue we couldn't kick field goals or extra points and couldn't prevent punts from being blocked. So it wan't really significant in terms of the play saving a great season. However, other than the sheer joy of winning the game on a 45 yard pass play on the last play of the game, I would say three things stand out.


  1. You could already tell that Carter was special. But this was the play where you had a sense of how great he really was. And I have read opinions (not just from M fans) that he was one of the very (meaning top five) greatest receivers in college football history.
  2. On the next to the last play of the game, Wangler threw the ball to L. P. Reid, the fullback. Reid made an incredible, albeit most likely blatantly illegal, play. He knew time was going to run out so he stopped in the middle of the field and tossed the ball out of bounds. To the Indiana sideline. Toward their coach. Who was none other than Lee Corso. Thought he would have an aneurysm. It was beyond priceless.
  3. The other priceless moment, beyond the obvious miracle, was Ufer's call which I didn't hear until Michigan Replay the next day. It went something like, "They're storming the field! We won't be able to kick the extra point! Who the hell cares!"


July 26th, 2010 at 5:23 PM ^

I've been told the game itself was nothing memorable other than the last 2 plays.  There was 100,000 Michigan fans extremely pissed off that Indiana was playing them so close beforehand.  Still, Wangler to Carter was epic. 


July 26th, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

There was no significance to the game, at least not any more than any other Big Ten game before the last week of the year.

The play == spectacular against any opponent.

The play + Ufer's call == Pantheon

Mr. Robot

July 26th, 2010 at 5:38 PM ^

It was homecoming against a slightly better than normal but still crappy Indiana team coached by Lee Corso. Winning it wasn't any more or less significant than, say, Northwestern apart from homecoming.

If we had scored the touchdown with 2 minutes to go and just stopped Indiana on their last drive, we probably wouldn't remember it. We'd know about it thanks to WolverineHistorian, but it wouldn't be what it is to us today. In hindsight though, I believe that is still a part of our streak of Big Ten home openers, and we didn't end up giving a moral victory to Corso in his tenure at Indiana (Rumor has it he had his picture taken with the scoreboard just before he ended up losing it. No idea if its true, but I've never found the picture, FWIW).

Its funny, because without that brilliant catch by Corso, we wouldn't have won. Good thing his interception was out of bounds.


July 26th, 2010 at 5:42 PM ^

I get that it was the last play of the game.  I get that the play was AC's grandest to date.  (So I hear, anyway...)  I get that Ufer screamed memorably (and that he was generally memorable).

But, I really don't understand the significance attached to it.  If my sources are correct, IU went 5-3 that year, which has to be one of their better years in the modern era.  Still, I'll bet Michigan was expected to win the game handily (at home and all).  Also, it was *tied* when the play occurred.  I think even John Wangler is fuzzy on that detail.

Seriously, to hear some Old Blues tell it, undefeated Michigan was down, um, five points to um, undefeated USC (yeah) in the um, Rose Bowl with, um, the national championship on the line.

To put it another way, I don't fully get it.  On many points, the Brabbs field goal against Washington, Mario's touchdown against Penn State, and last year's Notre Dame finish all outrank it.  I don't think it's just because they're recent events, either.

Bill in Birmingham

July 26th, 2010 at 6:43 PM ^

Nobody is saying that team won the MNC or anything. But you don't throw 45 yard passes on the last play of the game very often. Unless you're Urban Meyer leading Florida A&M 73-0.

Seriously, I don't think it can be emphasized enough how important Carter was to the program. He was so good that Bo began to make the pass a much more important part of the offense. There was a major difference in emphasis on the passing game between the Leach and earlier teams and the Wangler/Carter teams. And those Wangler/Carter teams led to the tradition of passing quarterbacks and great receivers that was very possibly the best in the country for twenty years.

Bill in Birmingham

July 27th, 2010 at 8:56 AM ^

So true. I remember once hearing Wangler quoted as saying something to the effect that  it wasn't that Carter wasn't fast (he obviously was) but what was amazing was that he was fast running sideways. The cut he made between those two d-backs was something to behold.


July 28th, 2010 at 12:39 AM ^

It was a first for me. I had never seen Michigan win so unexpectedly on the last play of the game. All of the other last play wins had a W attached to a good play. All I was hoping for was to get in FG position in under six seconds. When Carter caught the ball-I was sitting on the 20 yd line--my mind screamed "Go down....or just elude the three defenders and Honk Honk Honk...Honk Honk Honk...Honk Honk Honk...Honk Honk Honk...


July 26th, 2010 at 7:13 PM ^

To put it another way, I don't fully get it.  On many points, the Brabbs field goal against Washington, Mario's touchdown against Penn State, and last year's Notre Dame finish all outrank it.  I don't think it's just because they're recent events, either.

If you're talking about the overall significance of the victory, I can agree, but just looking at the play in isolation, Carter's TD was clearly above these.  This wasn't a field goal or short pass.  It was a 45-yard touchdown pass.  And it was unique - how often do you see a team throw it 20 yards short of the goal line on the last play of a game and then have the WR run it in?    


July 26th, 2010 at 7:56 PM ^

If I was going to try to explain to someone where the tradition of the #1 jersy at Michigan came from and what it means,  this is the play I would show them. 

For me it was a 20th birthday present listening to MICHigan football with my Dad after I had jumped on the UM bandwagon when I was about 10.


July 26th, 2010 at 5:50 PM ^

perhaps this particular game and this particular play came to best symbolize the sort of clash of the worlds between Bo's "three yards" mantra and the flamboyant floridian reciever.


July 26th, 2010 at 7:29 PM ^

at the time, and I'd also say the game itself was further dramatized by Ufer's always-uber-emotional game calling (listening to just 30 sec does NOT equate) 

And it didn't matter if the game was on TV or not (or even if you were there), you ALWAYS listen to the Ufer broadcast!


My first ever Michigan game was 2 weeks before vs. Minnesota.  Tickets were gifted to me by a neighbor (Alum) who was impressed by me mowing a giant block M into my parents front yard every Saturday thru the MSU game!


July 26th, 2010 at 6:13 PM ^

Can you imagine being 14 years old and THAT being your first trip to the Big House? It was for me.

There I sat, disconsolate, right before the last play -- feeling I was the jinx of Michigan football.

Then ... pandemonium. Eurphoria. I remember people's jaws wide open -- they just couldn't believe that a Bo team could complete such a long bomb on the last play of a game to win it. And, probably, couldn't believe that AC kept his balance.

Was in Section 36 or 37, up high. AC really nearly went down on his turn upfield.

My Dad, bless him, knew I was ruined just before that play and never once tried to nudge me out before the very last second ticked off the clock. I think he was more happy than me that my first game was so monumental.

Was the game pedestrian. Boring? Maybe. Not for me on my first visit, at age 14.

Five things stick out for me:

1.  It was the 100th anniversary of Michigan football. Every game there was something to commemorate it, but that one was Homecoming. So. Every single living Michigan All-American -- back to Ernie Vick from the early '20s -- who could make it was there that day. Dozens were all paraded out at halftime. Including the most recent one, my idol Rick Leach. Also Harmon, Chappuis, all three Wisterts. Plus Crisler, Oosterbaan were in attendance.... all those Michigan icons. And they all witnessed that play, on the 100th anniversary of Michigan football. The combined magic....

2. Indiana needed a bomb in the waning minute or two, down 21-14, and amazingly got it. Bo always played pass prevent in those days, but it wasn't good enough. Long pass from IU QB Tim Clifford down to about the 5 set up the tying score. Place was SILENT.

3. Huge cheer went up when QB John Wangler went in for an injured, and struggling, BJ Dickey earlier in the second half. Dickey never started another game. Wangler had passed UM right down the field to set up the eventual blocked FG vs ND in Week 2, so I inferred from that cheer that they wanted to see more of him after that game but didn't till then. Ahhhhh, the backup QB at Michigan!

4. Anthony Carter the next day on Michigan Replay was interviewed afterward in his almost unintelligible Florida drawl, saying something like, "All the players kept jumping on me, and I said, 'I can't bree! I can't bree!'" That was a catchphrase for my buddy and I for years after that. "I can't bree!! I can't bree!"

5. Urging my Dad and brother back to our car as quickly as possible afterward, so I could hear Ufer's call of the last play when, after the regular broadcast ended, I knew they always then played the highlights off Ufer's calls. I still tear up when I hear it. Moreso than ever now at age 45.

What a day. What an experience.

GOD, I love being in that stadium during such seminal moments, like ND last year. As a kid and young man, I just went, as Ufer said, "Stark raving bananas!!" Now I weep. 


July 26th, 2010 at 6:38 PM ^

My father was in Grad School at the School of Dentistry so we were living in Ann Arbor at the time, and I didn't even know English all that well, let alone football. That game turned me into the fan I am today, of Michigan Football, above all else in all of sports.

Significance? I do believe a lot was riding on that game, in the sense that Michigan needed to keep up with Ohio State, who was undefeated (and ended up going to the Rose Bowl with an 11-0-0 record). Michigan only had that lost to Notre Dame. A tie would have already kept Michigan out of the Rose Bowl, unless Ohio State lost at some point.


July 26th, 2010 at 7:07 PM ^

Only Nonnair has pointed this out.

Michigan's first football game was played in 1879, and the Homecoming game against Indiana is the day Michigan chose for the official celebration of the 100th anniversary of Michigan Football.  They even had a quick "re-enactment" of our first-ever game (a 1-0 win against Racine College in Chicago on May 30, 1879).

If you listen to Ufer's famous call of the play, he mentions that "...Johnny Wangler to Anthony Carter will be heard until another 100 years of Michigan Football is played!"