Rank the Michigan teams from best to worst in the BCS era

Submitted by BeatOSU52 on May 23rd, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Now that the BCS era is over and it being the midst of the off-season for college football, lets rank the Michigan teams from best to worst, 1 to 16.  As a reminder,  the BCS era was 1998 to 2013.  All just opinion and for fun of course.


I'll start:

1.  2006

2.  1999 (Not sure how they lost to Illi at home)

3.   2003 

4.  2000 (perhaps our best and most talented offense during this era)

5. 2004 

6.   1998

7.  2011

8.  2007 

9.   2002

10.  2001 

11.  2012

12.  2005 (Probably Carr's worse team.  Defense was out of shape, and I didn't mind Herman being canned after this season)

13.  2013

14.  2010  (more fun to watch than 2013 but defense was sooooo bad)

15. 2009

16.  2008 (duh)



May 23rd, 2014 at 4:54 PM ^

2008 the defense was fine, they gave up a lot of points because when youre offense goes 3 and out every drive the opponent gets a lot of chances to score. pair them with a semi competent offense and they would have at least been good enough to win 6+ games. hell the only reason we won any games that year was the defense held it close enough for the offense to luck into enough points to win


May 23rd, 2014 at 1:05 PM ^

Call me nuts, but I think the 2007 team would beat the sugar bowl winning 2011 team 7 out of ten times.  (I know i know... struggle against mobile QBs). 

Actually, the more I think about it, those would be fun games to watch. In many ways I feel that 2011 season was a gift from the football gods to say sorry for those rose bowl matchups against Texas, and USC. 

If we'd only blocked that FG at the end! 


May 23rd, 2014 at 1:26 PM ^

In my opinion the 2007 team played the single best game I can remember out of all those years. That would be the Capital One Bowl vs. Florida and their media darlings Heisman Tebow and Urban Meyer, in Florida. I remember thinking that the performance of the team that day could've hung with and beaten any team in the country.


May 24th, 2014 at 10:06 AM ^

That game was fun as hell, but I think people forget that florida went 9-4 that year. Also, we didn't really stop Tebow; we just outscored him and his crappy, young secondary. I think Denard would have given our 2007 team, which was shredded by Armanti Edwards, nightmares, and I think the #7 ranked defense would have been good enough to get some stops.


May 23rd, 2014 at 3:22 PM ^

I think the 2007 team would beat the 2011 team at least 9 times out of 10. The talent levels on those two teams aren't comparable and I don't think they would've had any problem shutting down Denard since Denard never ready a great passing game to complement his running ability. The '07 team would probably give up a 90 yd touchdown on one of those Denard-fake-Roundtree-whoops! and still win like 35-14


May 23rd, 2014 at 9:56 PM ^

the later which Tebow was. He was a strong college fb with great leadership skills and an arm good enough to get the job done. However, no one can seriously say he was a tough qb to get a defender on. He was a bitch to stop for lost yds but again, two different measurements.


May 23rd, 2014 at 1:06 PM ^

You've put the 2010 and 2012 teams pretty low, which I mostly agree with; in a head-to-head matchup with the other Michigan teams, though, I wonder if those two teams wouldn't win most of them, given Denard and Michigan's historic inability to defend running quarterbacks.


May 23rd, 2014 at 1:06 PM ^

I'd put 1999 at the top of the list. 2006 was a terrific team, of course, but I still have a hard time forgiving the meltdown against USC; conversely, the only team I wouldn't have given the '99 team a great chance to beat that year was Florida State, and even that could have been a good game. 

The Illinois loss was pretty terrible, but it was bizarre--part of the reason the collapse happened was because Anthony Thomas had already been taken out of the game due to a small injury that he could've continued with. Carr took him out of the game because he (reasonably) felt that Michigan was comfortably enough ahead not to worry about it. One of my worst experiences ever attending a game.

Other than that game, Michigan got beaten on the road by an excellent MSU team; both participants in that game played the two participants of the SEC championship game in the state of Florida and won. That feels like a long, long time ago.

The 2003 team is actually one of the most inexcusable underperformances of Carr's career, and it irks me more every year because we squandered one of the few teams that had genuine top five potential. Both the Oregon and Iowa losses hinged on horrific special teams meltdowns and were still winnable; play even average special teams (entirely a coaching issue) and Michigan plays in the Sugar Bowl for the national title.


May 23rd, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

Yes. We then gave up two punt returns for TDs, and I believe there were other errors as well. If you eliminate special teams scores of that nature Michigan wins the game.

That was the year that Carr flirted with a "spread punt" formation. He tried it because the existing punt plan was not working. The spread punt was also a miserable failure, which demonstrated a couple of things to me:

1. Lloyd Carr was not so reactionary that he was not willing to try something new or different to see if it would work.

2. Lloyd and staff were bad at coaching things they were not already long familiar with.

The reason Carr coached the way he coached, running the offenses and defenses he ran, was not because he was convinced that it was the only way to play; it was because it was the only way he knew how to coach.

EDIT: One of those "returns" against Oregon was a punt block "return" for a TD.


May 23rd, 2014 at 1:51 PM ^

I'm with you.  I actually 2003 was a better team than 2006, when it wasn't making crippling special teams errors.  That 2003 team took an excellent OSU team to the woodshed--I think that's the single most impressive Michigan game I've watched since I started following in 2002.  

I still think about the Navarre-Braylon 90-yard TD that was called back for a ticky-tack hold.  It would have put us up 35-7.  We still won, of course, but it would have been so much fun to completely blow them out, like they've done to us a few times since then.


May 23rd, 2014 at 2:19 PM ^

That OSU team was pretty top-notch, very stout on defense.  Michigan shredded them and should have won by much more than 14.  (maybe it's more than 14 if Lloyd Carr tried to score at the end of the 1st half --- that led to the whole "that's a stupid question" sequence with the sideline guy!)


Also the 31-3 whooping of Purdue.  Purdue was a legit Top 10 team in 2003 - the 2003 outfit was probably Purdue's best team when they were good from 1997 to 2006.


The loss to USC in the Rose Bowl was just Michigan running up against the nation's #1 team.  It happens.  But I think 2003 Michigan was honestly the nation's second best team, better than Oklahoma or LSU too.  Those losses to Oregon & Iowa were truly bizarre.


May 23rd, 2014 at 4:42 PM ^

Udeze lived in the backfield. I expected him to terrorize the NFL but injuries ended his career before it got started. Tatapu was also dominant and had a solid career on Sundays.

Lest we forget, that USC team was ridiculously loaded too. In addition to Lendale White and Matt Leinert, the guy who most impressed me on offense was some skinny little running back whose name I can't remember.



May 23rd, 2014 at 1:17 PM ^

I think 2006 team is a bit overrated.  That 2003 team lost its two games by a total of 7 points (until playing USC), and both loses were at home.  They also had a pretty dominant win against OSU, which was probably the most impressive one in the BCS era.


May 23rd, 2014 at 3:39 PM ^

I presume you are agreeing with me, unless you are arguing a 2000 win in Columbus was better.  I still think that 2003 is criminally underrated, and for all the love 2006 received it was a superior defense hamstrung by a mediocre offense (or at least a mediocre offensive plan). Despite playing in a pretty strong conference - 5 ranked teams, 3 in the top 10 - it was clearly the best outfit.


May 23rd, 2014 at 1:23 PM ^

2001 and 2004 are, in retrospect, seasons where the team performed about as well as could have been expected. The 2001 team had Marquise Walker, a redshirt sophomore QB who was not supposed to be the guy, an average defense, and nothing else. Navarre, of course, was overmatched in many circumstances, but this is at least partly due to the team's inability to run the ball or defend adequately. He would have made a fine game manager. Losing Drew Henson hurt quite a bit that season, but he still wouldn't have won us a national title.

As it was, the losses were:

1. An extremely flukey loss at Washington three days before 9/11 where Michigan controlled the game until a blocked field goal was returned for a TD and then a flare pass (not perfectly accurate but certainly catchable by the RB, who I think was Perry) was tipped and picked for another TD.

2. The clock game

3. A Murphy's Law home game against OSU that Michigan could have won despite Navarre and the rest of the team playing like hot garbage.

4. A matchup against a Tennessee team that could/should have played for the national title, stacked with elite offensive talent that torched our overmatched defense.

2004 was a different case, a team rebuilding at several key spots that overachieved and promised much for the future; those promises went largely unkept. After the annual road opener loss* with a freshman QB the team roared through the B1G, mugged MSU with Braylon Edwards, and had a Pasadena trip clinched before a stinging loss to OSU that nobody remembers because it was the day after the Malice at the Palace. 

The Rose Bowl was a great game, and we took a team featuring a transcendant Vince Young to the limit; the next season, an all-time USC team proved that we were hardly the only team unable to stop him. Given that key contributors Henne, Hart, and Long were freshmen at the time, I can't be upset about how the season went. Unfortunately, at great programs that is just a springboard for better days in the future. At Michigan we've barely seen such success since.

*Michigan teams have stunk in their first road trips for years. Lloyd Carr teams were execrable on the road in September. Pick any loss at Notre Dame after the graduation of Rick Mirer, or look at the horrific UCLA loss in 2000, or the crushing disaster at Oregon in 2003, or anything else. Even in wins the team was bad--in 1999 Michigan traveled to Syracuse and barely escaped against a team that turned out to be mediocre. It's not a coincidence that the '97 title was won in a year in which the first road trip happened a month into the season and was a game at Indiana.


May 23rd, 2014 at 6:01 PM ^

I've seen that debate a lot regarding Henson coming back. I still think they were a better RB (Perry wasn't that good his sophomore year) and a better defense needed to go undefeated. Although Henson probably may have been able to pull out wins vs Sparty and OSU so who knows.


May 23rd, 2014 at 7:40 PM ^

It's clear to me (and I spent some time looking closely at this) that Henson could have been the difference in all three of the regular season losses. The margins of loss were very, very small in each, and the superior passing game and offense Henson would have provided could have, should have put Michigan over the top. 

Keep in mind, of course, that some of Michigan's wins that year were close, too; Wisconsin in particular sticks out as a flukey win, with Michigan needing a muffed punt by the Badgers late in the game to pull it out.*

But here's the thing: If there's one thing we could count on in the Carr era, and one thing that we keep coming back to in this thread, it is that Michigan would always take the field at least once a season and lose a horrible game that they should've won. The 2001 team, even if Henson were on the roster, was not good enough to avoid this. 

And even with Henson they were way outmatched by Tennessee; even if the best-case scenario happened and they did finish the regular season undefeated, they would have gone to the Rose Bowl and been absolutely annihilated by Miami. 


May 23rd, 2014 at 6:36 PM ^

My cousin's kid turned 1 and they had a birthday party, and for some reason this party had Fall Wedding status because my cousin wouldn't let us watch the game.  My dad and I listened to the first half in the car before my cousin relented and let us watch the 2nd half trainwreck. 

That ball deflected right off Perry's chest.  Outgained them 372-268 and still lost.


May 23rd, 2014 at 1:28 PM ^

Boy this is depressing - the first half of the list is all teams that were really strong and all dropped games they should have won or lost on flukes and the bottom half is basically the last 6 years.


May 23rd, 2014 at 2:04 PM ^

I am convinced if we had a defensive coordinator that knew his X's and O's better, we would have won the OSU game by a TD or two.    I will say that English quietly improved the tackling technique much more than Herman's last few years (although, Pitman and Wells broke a few big runs that game which killed), but he didn't know what to do one a team did something like OSU did and spread it out. 


May 23rd, 2014 at 2:23 PM ^

Coaching staff atrophy was a major reason that Michigan underachieved in the Carr era. There are a lot of interesting factors that may or may not have contributed to this (Carr's loyalty, settling on "Michigan Men" instead of getting the best available guys, lack of money available to hire better staff) but the effect is obvious: Stagnation in ideas, erosion in technique, an almost non-existent coaching tree.

Hermann was capable of occasional brilliance (see Purdue, 2003) but for the most part the defense sharply underachieved relative to the potential of the players on the field. It is notable in retrospect to remember that Herman's greatest triumph was the '97 team--and those were all players that were coached in technique by Greg Mattison.



May 23rd, 2014 at 2:09 PM ^

In the 99 loss to Illinois wasn't Brady taken out for Henson a few times? I remember thinking, "leave Brady in the damn game! " he was the best qb on the team and I didn't think it was even close.

In the 03 Oregon game I remember the ducks had the ball for almost the entire 1st qtr, and Michigan even with the game still within reach gave up on giving Chris Perry the ball. That game probably cost him the Heisman.


May 23rd, 2014 at 3:05 PM ^

They had a big lead...but the defense played like crap (thanks Jim Hermann for not having your safeties in the right position) and let Ill come back and take the lead.

It was a windy, cold day... Brady took the ball and lead them down the field for a game winning FG attempt.  Suddenly the ball got snapped 15 yards over his head... he went back and recovered the ball...but it was too late, drive over and game lost.  Brady played his ass off that game.

Wolverine Devotee

May 23rd, 2014 at 2:50 PM ^

I loved that 2006 team so much. I still do. Every week, knowing Michigan was going to throw around anyone on that field.

I can still name the entire starting lineup off the top of my head and I was only 11 at the time. Will forever haunt me that they were robbed of a rematch.

I remember being at the opener against vandy and you could hear some booing because Michigan was only up 13-7 at halftime. 


May 23rd, 2014 at 3:52 PM ^

2006 was an extremely great team, best under LC's guidance during the time frame referenced. The caveat is that I'm not certain we really did deserve a rematch. Yes, we might have been as equally talented in regard to OSU, but when all was said and done, that would have made us the 2nd and 3rd best team in the country, not no. 1.                            ^From a man who knew a little something about winning NCs, although he was also quoted as saying, "We've been winning a lot more football games than NCs," the Bear also said, "You can afford one loss and still win it all. However, that loss must occur withing the first three games of the season and all victories thereafter must be of the blowout variety."                            ^2008 was, of course, our worst season and we might have won only 2 more games had Lloyd stayed. Of this I'm not certain. Not one of the OLmen aside from Schilling ever earned playing time under Lloyd and again except for that same man, Schilling, all of them were upperclassmen, which basically is a statement that, "No, they are not of Michigan OL caliber." The possibility of two more wins would have rested almost entirely on the arm of Ryan Mallet. Some players, ala Denard Robinson, are just good enough to pull out two victories almost by themselves. But even with Mallet, the OL would have had to produce a modicum of protection, and I'm not certain they would have been capable given the offense we had ran to that point.  Of equal importance is the fact that Lloyd had called it quit a few years earlier as evidenced by the defensive roster that fell roughly 50% short of what is reasonable, roughly 42-45 players.  How the hell RR took so much criticism from those that actually believed in what they were espousing is beyond me.  As a former coach, without really having to say at a much lower level, but I think it is important for those who just measure success by counting Ws vs Ls, I would challenge anyone on this board to convince me they could have done better under circumstances tantamount to coaching a Freshmen team, year two and a J.V. team year three against the varsity at any level of competition be it h.s. or the top tier of cfb. 


May 23rd, 2014 at 3:03 PM ^

might be a little low.  They went 10-3 and the 3 losses were to teams that finished in the Top 20.  2 pt loss @ND (don't remember much of that game).  A bad loss to Iowa, who went 11-2, 8-0 in the Big Ten and finished the year ranked 8th.  A 14-9 loss to OSU where UM moved the ball pretty well between the 20's but had to settle for FG's.

UM finished the year ranked 9th in both polls.


May 23rd, 2014 at 3:08 PM ^

The 2006 team was overrated and got exposed vs. USC to prove that point.

Here is my ranking based on talent and ability to kick ass when need be:

1999 -- Could have been a great team if Lloyd didnt force Henson in there so much and let Brady be Brady.







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