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TGS BIG TEN RETROSPECTIVE...THE 10-YEAR WAR OF OHIO STATE & MICHIGAN!
by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor


When Michigan and Ohio State talk about war, they really mean it.

After all, how many other states/territories in the USA (outside of Civil War references) can actually say that they were once at war with another?

Michigan, Ohio, and antagonism have a long history even before the Wolverines and Buckeyes started to put on their football pads. Although the chapters between gridiron battles between the latter two can fill books of college football history. Specifically, the “10-Year War” between 1968 and 1978 when the season-ending games between the giants had Rose Bowl, and often national title, ramifications for one or both teams.

But before we get into the most epic of those football tales, a quick history review on what spawned the significant dislike between these neighbors 200 years ago.

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The Toledo War (1835-1836), also known as the Michigan-Ohio War, was the boundary dispute between the U.S. state of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan. It originated from conflicting state and federal legislation passed between 1787 and 1805, the dispute resulted from poor understanding of geographical features of the Great Lakes at the time.

(The “war” reference is used rather loosely, because there were hardly any casualties. But if historians can call it war then so can we.)

Moreover, imagine fighting over Toledo as if it were Cameron Diaz!

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established an east-west line drawn from the southern tip of Lake Michigan across the base of the peninsula. The original line was drawn using maps that showed the line intersecting Lake Erie north of the Maumee River. This was the territorial "line-of- scrimmage" that Ohioans recognized when their constitution was drafted in 1803. When the Michigan Territory was created in 1805, surveyors realized the tip of Lake Michigan was actually further south and included the area that would later become Toledo.

This revelation had the Ohioans in Congress screaming, "Offsides!" They immediately campaigned to have the northern line accepted as the official border. In 1817, U.S. Surveyor General, and former Ohio governor, Edward Tiffin, sent William Harris out to survey the line according to Ohio's constitution. The Michigan Territorial Governor, Lewis Cass, went to President James Monroe to protest the call. John A. Fulton was called into the fray to make another survey of the disputed claim in accordance with the Northwest Ordinance.

Such varying interpretations of the law caused the governments of Ohio and Michigan to both claim sovereignty over the disputed 468-square mile region along the border, now known as the Toledo Strip. The controversy heated up again when Michigan sought admission to the union on December 11, 1833. In spite of Michigan's presence in the Toledo Strip, Ohio Congressmen successfully lobbied to block Michigan's acceptance as a state until it agreed to Ohio's version of the boundary. Massachusetts Representative, and former President, John Quincy Adams, supported Michigan saying, "Never in the course of my life have I known a controversy of which all the right so clearly on one side and all the power so overwhelmingly on the other."

Ohio's position was so strong that Governor Robert Lucas refused to negotiate with Michigan over the issue. Michigan's territorial council countered by passing a resolution that would impose heavy fines on anyone other than Michigan or federal officers trying to exercise jurisdiction in the Toledo Strip. In a blatant act of defiance, Governor Lucas turned the disputed region into a county named after himself and appointed a sheriff and judge. Michigan's 24-year-old "boy governor" had had enough! Stevens T. Mason mobilized his troops and headed towards Ohio. The Toledo War had begun!

The War involved more saber-rattling and one-upmanship than it did shooting and blood-letting (sounds like a modern-day game between the Toledo Rockets and Eastern Michigan Eagles). For instance, after the Ohio legislature voted to approve a $300,000 military budget, Michigan upped the ante by approving one with $315,000. Michigan's militia did end up arresting some Ohio officials, capturing nine surveyors, and firing a few shots over the heads of others as they ran out of the area. But only Ohio inflicted any casualties, when a buckeye named Two Stickney stabbed a Michigan Sheriff during a tavern brawl.

When President Andrew Jackson stepped in, the war ended. Jackson removed Mason from office and the militia commander, General Joseph W. Brown, disbanded his troops. But Congress still held Michigan statehood hostage until it agreed to Ohio's claims. In December 1836 the Michigan territorial government, facing a dire financial crisis, surrendered the land under pressure from Congress and President Andrew Jackson and accepted a proposed resolution adopted in the U.S. Congress. Under the compromise Michigan gave up its claim to the strip in exchange for its statehood and approximately three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula The citizens of Michigan set up a state government, and elected young Stevens T. Mason as governor.

Michigan eventually became the 26th state of the union, on the 26th of January, 1837. But its territory did not include the Toledo Strip. Instead, it gained title to the western three-quarters of the upper peninsula as compensation; 9,000 square miles of the most valuable timber, iron, and copper country in America..

At the time, the compromise was considered a poor outcome for Michigan, but the later discovery of copper and iron deposits and the plentiful timber in the Upper Peninsula has offset Michigan's losses. But unless a devotee of the Tony Packo's chili dog, effectively trading Toledo for much of the “U.P.” has been a win for Michigan.

Poor officiating may have taken Michigan officially out of the campaign for the Toledo Strip, but in retrospect, it's obvious who won the Toledo War.

Speaking of poor officiating, it has played a part in Buckeyes-Wolverines lore, too. Many longtime Big Ten observers will swear that the most-memorable eruption of HC Woody Hayes’ long career in Columbus came at the end of the 1971 game, in which Ohio State’s gallant upset big against unbeaten and third-ranked Michigan would sour in the final moments. Down 10-7, Buckeye QB Don Lamka third-and-16 pass toward receiver Dick Wakefield was instead intercepted by Wolverine DB Thom Darden, effectively scuttling Ohio State’s hope for at least a tie.

The entire Ohio State sideline screamed for an interference penalty to be called, and Hayes stormed onto the field, launching a profanity-laced tirade at the referee, Jerry Markbreit (later familiar as an NFL ref), then tore up the sideline markers, receiving a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. A further enraged Hayes then proceeded to throw the penalty flag into the crowd, began destroying the yard markers and threw the first-down marker into the ground like a javelin before being restrained by Buckeyes team officials; Hayes was then assessed an additional 15-yard penalty and ejected. Hayes was later suspended for one game and fined $1000. As the Wolverines proceeded to run out the clock, OSU star LB Randy Gradishar was ejected after he slugged Michigan's Tom Slade through his facemask and start a ten-minute bench clearing brawl.

Ah, Woody Hayes. The same Woody who was said to have hated everything about Michigan so much that when running out of gas a few miles on the wrong side of the border (near Toledo), instead of patronizing a Michigan gas station would push his car the final couple of miles to the Ohio side of the border so he could gas up at a Buckeye state station.

Hayes, of course, was a central character in everything Ohio State for almost three decades, including the entirety of the 10-year war. Which, for our purposes, includes the 1968 Rose Bowl showdown when the Wolverines were still coached by Bump Elliott; some others want to mark 1969 as the beginning of the gridiron “war” years when Bo Schembechler had taken over in Ann Arbor.

Hayes’ hate for Michigan was overt. Such as in 1961, when the unbeaten but once-tied Buckeyes (who would eventually be denied a Rose Bowl berth by their own faculty council...more on that in a future installment on these pages) were in a pitched battle with Alabama for the top spot in the polls. Trekking to cold and gloomy Ann Arbor for the regular-season finale vs. the 6-3 but injury-depleted Wolverines, Ohio State, behind punishing FB (and Heisman runner-up) Bob Ferguson’s 152 yards rushing, galloped, although Hayes was not pleased when a late Michigan TD and 2-point conversion “cut” the Buckeye lead to 42-20 in the last minute of the game. With 34 seconds to play, Hayes, mercilessly, ordered his offense to pull out all of the stops for one more score.

Taking over on their own 20, Hayes ordered QB (and future major league pitcher) Joe Sparma to throw, and he passed deep to soph back Paul Warfield (you’ve hear of him, right?) for a 70-yard gain and a first down on the Michigan 10. Two passes were incomplete and then Sparma hit Sam Tidmore on the five, and Tidmore wriggled his way over for the score. A Sparma-to-Tidmore pass made a two-point conversion and settled the final score with five seconds left on the clock: Ohio State 50, Michigan 20. The jubilant players hoisted Hayes to their shoulders and carried him triumphantly to the dressing room.

Yes, Woody threw a bomb and then went for a two-point conversion when the Buckeyes were up by 28 points in the last minute, to hit the “magic” 50-point mark. “We were going for national recognition,” said Hayes, brushing off the accusation of running up the score. “One or two more touchdowns aren’t going to hurt Bump Elliott or Michigan.”

It wouldn't be the last time he'd run up the score on the Wolverines. And the last time he did turned out to be the last game for the tenure of counterpart Elliott at Michigan.

(Following is a closer look at five of the more-memorable games in the 1968-78 “war decade” between the Michigan and Ohio State, including the epic trio of battles between 1972-74 that remain on the minds of all Wolverines and Buckeyes to this day.)

1968


It had been a while since an Ohio State-Michigan game had as much at stake as the 1968 renewal at Columbus. The Buckeyes and their star-studded soph-laden class led by QB Rex Kern and a slew of future pros had taken the country by storm and raced to an unbeaten 8-0 mark and second ranking in the polls, serving notice to the rest of the country with a 13-0 mid-October blanking of top-ranked Purdue to move into prime contention for the Rose Bowl berth. Meanwhile, HC Bump Elliott’s Michigan had rebounded from a 21-7 opening-day loss to Cal and had won eight in a row behind the exploits of A-A RB Ron Johnson, whose brother Alex was then a member of the Cincinnati Reds and a baseball slugger of some renown (and an AL batting champion-to-be in 1970 with the Angels).

It had been a while since Hayes had a powerhouse team, too, and was close to losing his job the previous year before the super sophs took over the stage. Hayes had won big at times in the past, such as the Hopalong Cassady team of 1954, which was 10-0, the Bob White team of 1957, which was 9-1, and the aforementioned Bob Ferguson team of 1961, which was 8-0-1. All had won versions of a mythical national title. But Woody had not had a nationally acclaimed winner in seven years, and he had not been to the Rose Bowl in 10 years. He had seen his ranks depleted by higher academic requirements and a no-redshirt rule. And he had witnessed a change in the game toward high-powered offenses, a trend that did not suit his own football philosophy. Worst of all for a giant in the trade, he had heard it whispered that football, just possibly, had passed him by.

But the ‘68 Buckeyes were unlike any of the other memorable Hayes teams, and not just because the ‘68 team would throw passes, use reverses and revel in fakery--things that Hayes had previously thought belonged in basketball. Woody was insisting to all that would listen that his ‘68 team was the best of the entire batch.

Hayes had reason to be confident. Before the Michigan game, at a party at John Galbreath's nearby Darby Dan Farm in the Columbus outskirts, Hayes had talked about the fact that he was coaching as hard as ever. "Coaches used to say the hay's in the barn after a Thursday workout, but that's wrong. You have to keep thinking through Friday, right up to game time, in fact. You have to consider emotions. Just like today, for instance. Our kids were tight, I thought. Worried. They are young, and this is their biggest test. I said to 'em, 'You all just clinch your fists for 10 seconds as hard as you can, and then take a deep breath. After that 10 seconds is how you're supposed to feel when you go into a football game. Relaxed, confident, but determined.' "

Hayes could actually be quite engaging in those off-the-field get-togethers. When he got to talking, subjects would lead him into another at mid-paragraph, with quotations mostly from generals and admirals flying out like the confetti from the Ohio Stadium rooting section.

Somebody remembered how once, Hayes was on television talking to one of his tackles, explaining why he had worked his team out in the cold and rain. It was because they were going to Wisconsin, where he expected the weather to be foul. "As Admiral Doenitz said, "If you're going to fight in the North Atlantic, you've got to train in the North Atlantic,' " Woody told the tackle. To which the player replied, "I'd rather fight in Florida, Coach." Everybody laughed, and Woody was talking up a storm.

"I think we deserve to win," he said. "I think we've proved we can win. I think we have the right attitude to win, and athletes who know how to win. I'll tell you something. We will win!"

Ohio State went into its gray, 42-year-old concrete football temple containing 85,371 people—an OSU attendance record—on the banks of the Olantangy River, with five 19-year-olds on the starting offensive unit and five more on defense. Of the top 22 players, 10 were sophomores. This entire Kiddie Korps had been wound up so tight by Hayes that it was ready to do what a Buckeye banner in the crowd commanded: KILL.

Final score: Ohio State 50, Michigan 14. The Buckeyes tackled with a ferocity that would have made Bear Bryant tip his hat, and when Michigan needed the ball to try and catch up the Buckeyes simply kept it. For all but 4:36 of the third period and 2:49 of the last, when they pasted on the 23 points that served warning to O.J. Simpson and top-ranked Southern Cal, which would have its hands full later that afternoon with an injury-depleted UCLA team that made a substantial upset bid in the fog-shrouded L.A. Coliseum, tightening the race at the top of the polls. (The Trojans would then tie Notre Dame the next week, 21-21, and surrender number one to Ohio State before the Rose Bowl showdown vs. the Buckeyes.)

The Ohio State defense wanted to hit anything that moved, and did. The most evident figure was Jack Tatum, a headhunter deluxe and a card-carrying member of the Kiddie Korps. A 19-year-old cornerback from Passaic, N.J., he had hounded A-A RB and eventual Heisman runner-up Leroy Keyes into obscurity when OSU earlier shut out Purdue 13-0. Tatum was a ball hawk who prowled around in the OSU defense like Woody prowls the sideline. He could make a mistake, then turn around and run 25 yards to catch the guy who tricked him, as he did to Michigan's Ron Johnson on one play. There were a lot of other hitters on the defense, but Tatum seems to make his victims bounce higher. His very first shot in the Michigan game separated Wolverine Quarterback Dennis Brown from his senses and the football.

As hard as those Buckeyes were on "D" they were just as exuberant on offense, exemplified by another 19-year-old, QB Rex Kern, a redheaded sophomore with spunk to spare. One of the high points of the Michigan game came when he ran out of bounds on a keeper, got blasted groggy by a Michigan linebacker--who drew a well-deserved 15-yard penalty for the assault--—and wobbled back to the huddle, where he ignored a play sent in by Hayes, called his own signal and gained 14 yards before bouncing into the same linebacker. Later, Kern was the first man who dashed off the bench and across the field to try and add his weight to a rousing fist-fight.

He was, in sum, enough to make Woody Hayes forget his collection of George Patton quotes.

With the score tied at 14 in what had been a back-and-forth donnybrook into the second quarter, the Buckeyes unleashed rugged FB Jim Otis on what Kern later described as Ohio State's best drive of the season. Michigan had just tied the score on a one-yard touchdown dive by Ron Johnson. Larry Zelina, another of the brilliant OSU sophomores, took the kickoff back 58 yards, but his run was nullified by a clip. Instead of being on Michigan's 41, Ohio State was back on its own 14, facing into a stiff wind and with the momentum swinging to the Wolverines.

Enter Otis, who would plow for six, nine and three yards on the first three plays. Two plays later he would barrel through the middle for 11 yards, and would ultimately carry the ball nine times in a 17-play drive for 46 of 86 yards, including the final two yards over right tackle for the touchdown that put Ohio State ahead to stay. Michigan was never heard from again, and collapsed under the weight of Ohio State physicality in the 4th Q when the Buckeyes stormed for 23 more points to make the rout complete.

50-14 would also be Bump Elliott’s last game as Michigan coach. Pressure had been mounting prior to the season on Elliott, and while the Wolverines rallied to an 8-2 mark, change was afoot in Ann Arbor. Elliott was bypassed for the AD job in favor of Don Canham, who offered Elliott an Associate AD job. While it has never been clear if Canham asked for Elliott’s resignation as football coach, the new AD did not talk Elliott out of his decision to step down as coach. Bump, whose brother Pete had coached at Illinois in the same era, would stay at Michigan for another year before moving to the University of Iowa to succeed Forrest Evashevski as Hawkeyes’ AD. Taking Elliott’s place on the sideline would be successful Miami-Ohio HC, and former Hayes line coach, 39-year-old Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler.

And a new phase of the war was about to begin.

1969


By the time the 1969 season would finally begin for Ohio State (not until September 27...really!), the nation’s sports media was already hailing it as one of the greatest teams in college football history. (Hayes was also insistent that the Buckeyes play no more than nine regular-season games, as they had done when he was hired in the '50s, even though the rest of college football had adopted a 10-game schedule since 1955.) After all, almost everyone was back from the previous season’s undefeated monster with a sophomore-filled roster that whipped USC and O.J. Simpson, 27-16, in the Rose Bowl. Throughout the season no one had much reason to dispute that notion, either, as the Buckeyes gleefully tortured most of their foes, beginning with a 62-0 romp past TCU. Seven other victims would fall in results almost as one-sided en route to the regular season finale at Michigan. The win streak would grow to 22 in a 42-14 rout of QB Mike Phipps (who would throw five picks) and tenth-ranked Purdue the previous week on November 15.

The "greatest-ever" chatter was at full bore as the Buckeyes prepared for their final game of the season at Ann Arbor.

Indeed, there had been almost no drama in the polls that season despite the presence of numerous other unbeatens (Texas, Arkansas, Penn State, Southern Cal, and UCLA; Tennessee would fall from the ranks of the unbeaten when it would lose on November 15 at Archie Manning and Ole Miss by a shock 38-0 scoreline) besides Woody Hayes' powerhouse Buckeyes into mid-November. So strong was OSU’s grip on the top spot in the polls that the Buckeyes were assumed to claim another national crown when they disposed, as expected, of the Wolverines.

Mind you, this was also in the era of the Big Ten’s no-repeat rule, and Ohio State was banned from a return visit to the Rose Bowl. Win or lose (and most expected win) on November 22 at Ann Arbor, and the Buckeyes would be a neat and tidy national champ before any subsequent showdowns (USC and UCLA later that day at the L.A. Coliseum, Texas and Arkansas two weeks hence at Fayetteville, and any upcoming bowl action).

As for the Wolverines, they had lost a pair of games (routed at home by a potent Missouri, and beaten at Michigan State) early in Schembechler’s maiden voyage, but had developed some momentum in the second half of the season, and had buried four straight Big Ten foes (Minnesota 35-9, Wisconsin 35-7, Illinois 57-0, and Iowa 51-6) heading into the showdown vs. the Buckeyes.

By virtue of an early season win over Purdue, and the fact it had been longer since it had been to the Rose Bowl than it had been for the Boilermakers, Schembechler’s Michigan was in line for an invitation to Pasadena even with a loss, but Bo suggested that his Wolverines would likely decline any offer unless they beat Ohio State.

What would follow would be what we at TGS have long believed to be perhaps the most-pivotal college football result in our nearly six decades of publishing. Indeed, repercussions are still being felt today, which we will explain in a moment.

Schembechler might have been the only person in America who believed his Michigan had a chance, but after the Wolverines had pasted Iowa the week before, Bo was convinced. “We knew right then that we were going to beat Ohio State,” he said later. Schembechler personally kept the fires burning within his team, even to the point of making the players on his scout team wear a tiny number 50 on their practice jerseys, a gentle reminder of the Buckeyes' 50-14 rout of the Wolverines last year.

Such mental warfare suggested that learning at the master's knee, he displayed such a passion for Hayes's tactics, both psychological and physical, and it was no wonder his peers gave him the “Little Woody” nickname, which had stuck even though Schembechler himself was not particularly fond of it.

Feeling the Schembechler wrath in game week was none other than his wife Millie. Around his home Schembechler, like Hayes before big games, was a monster. He not only ignored Millie, but made her sleep in the kid's room so that neither woman nor child would disturb his concentration. “He was completely preoccupied," Millie would say. “He couldn't remember what he had told me from one day to the next."

The way to beat Ohio State, Schembechler had decided, was to grudgingly concede FB Jim Otis his yardage and concentrate more on stopping big-play QB Rex Kern. “We didn't want Kern running the football,” Schembechler would later say, “so we set our defenses for him. We felt that our secondary could stop his passing, and we felt that we could score against their defense by running at 'em, which is something nobody had done.” Which all sounded straight from the Woody Hayes textbook on winning...always attack an opponent at his strongest point.

As Schembechler was quick to point out, too, Michigan had a few Jack Tatums and Rex Kerns of its own. There was the pass defense, built DBs Tom Curtis and Barry Pierson, and there was the passing attack, with quarterback Don Moorhead and future Miami Dolphins TE Jim Mandich. But the surprise find of the season was tailback Billy Taylor, from Schembechler's home town of Barberton, Ohio, who in Michigan's first five games had played only enough to work up a good sweat. But after fumbling on his first two plays against Minnesota, Taylor gained 151 yards in little more than a half vs. the Golden Gophers, and Bo had himself a real runner.

Saturday would soon arrive, and during the pregame warmups, a few of the Michigan fans pelted Ohio State players with snowballs, and everyone was amused until the Buckeyes' first play from scrimmage, when Kern rolled out around left end for 25 yards to the Michigan 31. “We didn't want Kern running the football,” said Schembechler later, “so what does he do on the first play? Break a pass pocket and run for 25 yards, that's all.” Before Bo had time to seriously doubt his game plan, however, Michigan's defense rose up and stopped Ohio State at the 10, and that was the first inkling of what was to happen throughout the afternoon.

"We knew we had 'em right there, when we stopped their regular stuff," said DB Pierson, who was to play a big role later.

Even after Ohio State's second series of downs, when Otis plunged in from the one for a 6-0 Buckeyes lead, the Wolverines remained confident. Working to the short side of the field, QB Moorhead passed the Wolverines 55 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-6 lead, putting Ohio State behind for the first time all season. Twice Moorhead hit TE Mandich with key passes, and once he found wide receiver Mike Oldham. An 11-yard reverse by wingback John Gabler helped, and rugged senior FB Garvie Craw, known more for his blocking exploits, got the final three yards on a dive.

Interestingly, Schembechler had made no special effort to work away from Tatum, the Buckeyes' CB whose hits packed the wallop of a Joe Frazier left hook. “Sure, we wanted to go into their short side, then hit Mandich when they single-covered,” Schembechler would later say. “Tatum just happens to play the wide side, but you can't really run away from him--he'll hunt you down.”

Initially, the Buckeyes were quick to respond. They came right back to take a 12-7 lead on the first play of the second quarter, Kern passing to a wide-open TE Jan White in the flat for a 22-yard TD. Ohio State's Stan White kicked the PAT, but Michigan was offside, and taking the penalty, Woody tried for two points from shorter range. But Kern was smothered by Michigan DE Mike Keller, a sight that was to become routine before the end.

What unfolded for the remainder of the quarter was one of the most stunning developments of the decade, as Michigan pushed around the supposedly super-human Buckeyes as no one had done since the pre-"super sophs" 1967 season. On the subsequent possession following White’s TD, Michigan QB Moorhead answered quickly, as the Wolverines moved to the Ohio State 27, and Taylor, breaking three tackles, ran to the five, setting up Craw's second scoring smash two plays later, and Michigan was back in front, 14-12. Included among the stunned were ABC telecasters Bill Flemming and Lee Grosscup, who searched for the right words to frame the unfolding drama. And when Ohio State could not move on its next possession and had to punt, Pierson took the kick and raced up the middle of the field, all of the way to the OSU three in what was perhaps the single most important play of the game. Two plays later Moorhead went over for another TD, and now the words were coming easier for Flemming and Grosscup as they told the nation that what they were seeing in front of their eyes was indeed true.

Indeed, invincible Ohio State was on the ropes, down 21-12 before halftime, and in deep trouble!

And the Wolverines pressed on. The Buckeyes were held again, and after Michigan scored what was apparently another touchdown on Moorhead's three-yard pass to Mandich with 1:15 left in the half, only to have it nullified by a holding penalty, junior Tim Killian kicked a 25-yard field goal, making the score 24-12. An interception of Kern on the final play of the half kept the lead at 24-12 into the break.

There was not much drama in the second half because Ohio State could not make the game interesting from its own end of the field. Though Hayes' defense braced itself in the last half, reducing Michigan's offense to four missed field goals by Killian, not until the final moments would the Buckeyes attack penetrate deeper than the Michigan 44. The Buck offense, that once awesome machine, was moribund. The Wolverines' defensive ends, Keller and Cecil Pryor, kept Kern so well contained that he gained only 28 yards in 11 runs after his initial 25-yard effort. And when the Bucks ditched the little passes to TE Jan White--the first three had been successful--and began going for the long ones, the Michigan defenders were there to intercept six times, three by Pierson. Only Otis was up to his usual form, gaining 144 yards in 28 carries, but then Schembechler had decided to leave him alone, hadn't he?

The 24-12 result in Michigan’s favor would initially spawn the same sort of reactions of disbelief as did Joe Namath’s Jets beating the Colts in the Super Bowl ten months earlier. There were numerous winners around college football because of that shock result in Ann Arbor. Certainly the Rose Bowl, which instead of having the second- or even third-best team from the Big Ten, now had a Michigan team that was not only is the league co-champion but also earned its way in style, whipping the Buckeyes head-to-head, as Schembechler reminded the press after the game. “Nobody here wanted to go as the Number 2 team,” said Bo. “That would have been tough. It was an emotional thing for us. Now we're going as co-champions of the Big Ten--and don't forget that.”

The door to Ohio State's locker room remained shut long after the game, except for the 18 seconds it took Hayes to conduct what had to pass for a press conference. Opening the door a crack and thrusting out his gray, jowly head, Woody said, "All good things must come to an end, and that's what happened today. We just got outplayed, outpunched and outcoached. Our offense in the second half was miserable, and we made every mistake you could possibly make." With that, Woody shut the door again, and for the time being that was as close as the waiting world would come to finding out how the Buckeyes felt.

There were 103,588 witnesses to the upset, the largest crowd ever to see a college football game, and what they saw was Michigan playing Ohio State's game better than Ohio State, a turn of events that was by no means accidental. While Ohio State was behind Woody's closed door trying to figure out what had gone wrong, the Wolverines' team was laughing it up, singing a lusty if somewhat off-key version of Hail to the Victors and waving a bunch of plastic red roses. There were so many reporters waiting to see Schembechler that when the coach finally showed up at the interview room, he could squeeze in no farther than the doorway. His Michigan sweater and slacks were wringing wet from the traditional shower his players had given him, and his old football knee was aching because the players had dropped him off their shoulders during the postgame victory ride. But he was the only thing his players had dropped all day.

Oh yes, for those repercussions. The national title race suddenly flew wide open. USC and UCLA, both unbeaten but once-tied, and playing later that day in the L.A. Coliseum, now sensed they were each in the title hunt. (USC would win in a 14-12 thriller and go on to beat the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl, 10-3; Schembechler would suffer a heart attack on New Year’s Eve and Michigan would be coached by assistant Jim Young, future Arizona, Purdue, and Army coach, in the game.) And consider that the upcoming Texas-Arkansas showdown two weeks would now loom as a battle for the number one spot in the polls. Excitement was suddenly cresting for that battle, as the Thanksgiving games for each (Texas routing A&M 49-12, and Arkansas, in a nationally-televised game on ABC, would smack Texas Tech and its bright red pants, 33-0) suddenly gained national attention. ABC was thrilled, too, having specifically requested for Texas and Arkansas to move their showdown to the end of the regular season for a national TV special.

Texas-Arkansas would never have been a “Game of the Century” or hosted President Nixon to name a national champ had Michigan not beaten Ohio State.

And then there was Joe Paterno’s Penn State, which was unbeaten for the second straight season. In the days when bowl invitations were accepted before the end of the regular season, Paterno’s Nittany Lions, on a vote from the players, had decided to accept a bid to return to Miami’s Orange Bowl (to face Big 8 champ Missouri, after beating Pepper Rodgers' Kansas in a thrilling 15-14 verdict the previous January 1) rather than Dallas’ Cotton Bowl, partly due to the many black athletes on the Penn State roster who much preferred spending New Year’s in more-tolerant Miami Beach than the middle of Texas. But that was before Texas-Arkansas would become a matchup to determine the number one team in the polls and a Cotton Bowl bid from the Southwest Conference. Which suddenly got Notre Dame thinking that it was the right time to end its 44-year bowl hiatus. The Longhorns would beat Arkansas in an all-time classic, 15-14, and then face the Fighting Irish, breaking their no-bowl policy, in what would be one of the most-anticipated Cotton Bowls of all time.

And Paterno’s Nittany Lions? While Paterno was prepared to live with Ohio State as a national champion, he could not accept that his team was somehow unworthy of that designation in regard to Texas. Paterno would fume that Richard Nixon would have the audacity to announce the winner of Texas-Arkansas as the top team in country, and would carry the grudge for decades, believing that his team was betrayed by its association with the lesser-regarded Eastern independent entries of the day. Sources have long suggested that because of those developments in ‘69 after Ohio State lost to Michigan, Paterno, due to his perceived national title snub, would never want to officially align with the Eastern teams, and began to lobby shortly thereafter for his Nittany Lions to join the Big Ten. Which would take another 23 years, but in the meantime Penn State would resist joining an eventual Big East football league, forever damaging a potential Eastern alliance, and, some believe, setting the stage for the myriad of conference changes (many continuing to this day) in subsequent decades.

Whew! We told you there were a lot of consequences for one Ohio State-Michigan result in 1969!

1972


By the time 1972 rolled around, Michigan and Ohio State had turned the Big Ten into the Big Two and the Seven Dwarfs...plus one. And in retrospect it is fair to question the Wolveirnes and Buckeyes of that era because their league competition was so suspect.

Indeed, until the late ‘70s, the last non-Wolverine or Buckeye team to get any mention in the national polls was Purdue’s 1969 team featuring QB Mike Phipps. But the Boilermakers would fade following the retirement of HC Jack Mollenkopf, struggling for successors Bob DeMoss and Alex Agase. Illinois had gone into serious decline in the late ‘60s and had become a laughingstock under HC John Vanek and would continue to struggle for successors Bob Blackman and Gary Moeller until ex-Cal HC Mike White would arrive in 1980. Indiana disappeared from sight after its one unexpected Rose Bowl run in 1967 (recounted on these pages last year) under HC John Pont. Iowa would go nearly 20 years without a winning record until Hayden Fry finally turned around the program in the early ‘80s. Minnesota’s last serious contenders for longtime HC Murray Warmath came in the late ‘60s, and the program treaded water for almost a decade thereafter. As did Michigan State, which would be competitive but not a national threat for more than a decade after Duffy Daugherty’s last great team, featuring Bubba Smith and George Webster, in 1966. Wisconsin had also sunken to great depths late in the ‘60s after winning years earlier in the decade for longtime HC Milt Bruhn; successor John Coatta had back-to-back winless years in 1967 & ‘68.

Suprisingly, Northwestern had emerged as the third best Big Ten team in 1970 and '71 under Alex Agase, before the Wildcats would become the Wildcats we knew for the next quarter century. Agase would then move to Purdue to replace DeMoss, while Indiana's Pont moved to Northwestern, in a game of Big Ten musical chairs for coaches in 1973, but the switches did not really alter the gridiron fortunes of any of the schools involved.

So, within that backdrop, it was no wonder that OSU and Michigan would continue to dominate the league through the ‘70s.

By 1972, the Big Ten had also repealed its draconian no-repeat policy for the Rose Bowl (though it would be until 1975 before Big ten teams could compete in bowls other than the Rose). In ‘72, that meant Michigan was eligible again for the Rose Bowl after winning the Big Ten in ‘71, and then losing a 13-12 heartbreaker to underdog Stanford in Pasadena.

Scehmbechler’s 1972 team, however, looked like it might be as good or better than the ‘71 champs. Bo had added a sharp edge at QB in playmaker soph Dennis Franklin, and there was real homerun speed on offense with halfback Gil Chapman, wideout Bo Rather, wingback Clint Haslerig, and big-play tight end Paul Seal, who would have a productive NFL career. Michigan’s defense was also airtight and did not permit any of its first nine foes to reach double digits. Those wondering about Michigan’s credentials outside the Big Ten were quieted by an early-season 26-9 romp past Pepper Rodgers’ UCLA wishbone, a game in which the Wolverines physically manhandled the Bruins while the Franklin and FB Ed Shuttlesworth-led infantry rushed for 389 yards.

Another Rose Bowl decider for Michigan would take place two days after Thanksgiving, on November 25, at Columbus vs. an Ohio State team that many believed was probably a year away from greatness. But the Buckeyes, led by frosh RB Archie Griffin, were in position to steal a Rose Bowl invitation if they could beat the Wolverines. And OSU needed a win; a tie would not do thanks to a 19-12 loss at Michigan State and retiring HC Duffy Daugherty earlier in November. The Wolverines would be the betting favorite for the Rose Bowl showdown, which would actually be the first such between the sides since 1968, as one or the other would be ineligible the preceding three seasons due to the no-repeat rule. .

Woody and Bo; Bo and Woody. By 1972, their shadows had grown increasingly large over the rest of the Big ten, effectively engulfing the conference.

By now, Woody’s bombast had become part of the national football conscience, as was his love of the military. A perfect world for Woody would have been to see his bosom pal, General Lewis Walt, emerge from retirement and lead a victorious Marine division into Hanoi; for all dope fiends to vanish in a cloud of their own wicked smoke; and for his Ohio State football team to beat Michigan every year. Not necessarily in that order.

General Walt, by that time a former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, was there to lend Woody his morale support for the Michigan game of ‘72, and would acclaim Woody as "one of the greatest leaders our country has ever had." Finally, Hayes proved, at least to his own satisfaction, that good old-fashioned locker-room oratory can transport a group of youngsters higher, as he put it, "than any drug can."

"Woody told us before the game that this would be the most important thing we'd ever do in our lives," said Fullback Champ Henson, recalling the moment. "And I agreed with him." Thus convinced of the gravity of the occasion, Henson went out and scored a touchdown in the second quarter, his 20th of the season, an Ohio State record.

This would be a game from Woody’s dreams, and not just because of the presence of General Walt. The Buckeyes would win the old-fashioned Woody way, which was without benefit of the forward pass and by Holding That Line!

And on this gray and damp late November afternoon in Columbus, with Chris Schenekel at the microphone for ABC, Ohio State would somehow emerge with a 14-11 win.

As for Holding That Line, it would, in fact as it has not been since the salad days of Walter Camp. The Ohio State defense gave ground--or, rather, AstroTurf--between the goal lines: Michigan ran off 83 plays to Ohio State's 44 and gained 344 yards to 192. But when their backs were to the wall the Buckeye defenders were not to be moved.

On this day, however, Schembechler's offense was positively chic in comparison with Woody’s. The Wolverines ran out of a variety of offensive formations, including a version of the split-back pro set, and Franklin, who was as extraordinary a ballhandler as he was an ordinary passer, threw 23 times, completing 13 for 160 yards. That constituted an aerial circus in the conservative Big Ten parlance. Franklin's Ohio State counterpart, Greg Hare, threw but three times, completing one to teammate Griffin and another to Michigan defender Randy Logan. The third was dropped. Hayes, who like Schembechler called every play, admitted that the intercepted pass was a bad choice.

Three times the Wolverines had first downs on or inside the Ohio State five. Only once did they score. In the closing seconds of the first half Michigan drove to a first down on the OSU one. Chuck Heater, the hard-running tailback (and currently the d.c. for the Marshall Thundering Herd), lost a yard on first down. Heater slipped on the rain-soaked artificial turf but gained a yard on second down. Bob Thornbladh made it almost to the goal line on third, but on fourth down QB Dennis Franklin fumbled the center snap and lost two yards. Ohio State's ball.

Midway in the third quarter, after Griffin had scored Ohio State's second touchdown on a virtually unimpeded 30-yard run to make the score 14-3, the Wolverines moved to another first down on the five. This time they squeezed across on a one-yard plunge by Fullback Ed Shuttlesworth, but it was a bitter and painful four-down journey. Franklin passed for a two-point conversion to conclude the day's scoring, although Michigan was to test the gallant goal-line warriors one more time. Early in the final quarter the Wolverines reached familiar ground again--the Ohio State five-yard line on first down. Three times Tailback Harry Banks hurtled forward. Net gain: four-plus yards. Then on fourth and a foot, maybe two, Franklin tried a sneak. He was stopped short by what appeared to be 11 muggers. “Ground-oriented foot-ball,” would drone ABC's Schenkel as yet another Michigan attempt was repelled. By now the 87,000 spectators in Ohio Stadium were convinced they were witnessing a return to primordial football.

Hayes was not one to take a goal-line stand lightly. Nor were the results an accident. When the enemy was at the gates, Woody would remove two defensive backs and replace them with tackles. With only, as it were, passing attention to the threat of a pass, the re-formed Buckeyes would bunch into the equivalent of an 11-man line. Such goal-line strategy differed from those employed by other teams only in that the Buckeyes worked harder at it and made it work.

As for Schembechler, he was excoriated in many quarters for not attempting a field goal on at least one of his deep penetrations--when he had the ball on fourth and one on the Ohio State 20 early in the fourth quarter. Especially since his kicker, Mike Lantry, had hit from 35 yards in the second quarter, and Michigan, which had entered the game undefeated, needed only a tie with once-beaten OSU to win the Rose Bowl invitation. Bo tried for a first down instead and, naturally, was stopped.

Hayes was not in the least surprised by his opponent's strategy. There was no reason why he should be, for Schembechler was a Hayes assistant for six years and is a faithful a copy of the original. Indeed, Michigan and Ohio State normally played the same type of antediluvian football. Though Bo passed more than 20 times in the game, usually, neither would throw the ball, except in dire emergencies, and both preferred defense to offense. Only this afternoon, Ohio State did the defensive part just a little bit better in the 14-11 win.

Woody, however, would fight, literally, to the last tick of the clock. As the hordes of Buckeye fans spilled on to the field when the game was not quite over, in the middle of them, shooing them off the premises, was Hayes himself. Woody was no one to fool with, so the fans went back where they belonged. All this exertion on behalf of law and order cost Hayes a pulled leg muscle, the only serious injury in the game. What was he doing out there playing cop? Was he afraid someone would get hurt?

"There were six seconds left," he said, rubbing the gimpy leg. "I didn't want there to be any question about this game. I wanted to finish it. I wanted this game."

And he got it.

1973


If 1972 was a grudge match of epic proportions, then the 1973 battle would be an upheaval of nature. Both teams would enter unbeaten and untied, never drawing anything close to a deep breath in the process. They were slotted at one (Ohio State) and three (or four, for Michigan, depending if referring to the AP poll that would rate probation-saddled Oklahoma, or the UPI poll that would not rate the Sooners) in the national rankings.

Such was their success, and the gravity of their battles that almost transcended the game, that by this point Hayes and Schembechler had become celebrities beyond the gridiron. There were no such warm bonds outwardly evident between Woody and his former assistant; Hayes remained averse to mentioning rival coaches' names, so for public purposes Schembechler of Michigan was “the coach from that school up north.” By this stage, both had also authored new books, and Bo's Man in Motion, in which he reveals that Hayes is not only less of a handball player but once threw a chair at him during a heated argument, sold for a mere $6.95 while Woody's You Win with People commanded $8.95.

Both were hard drivers, had hot tempers, preferred the grind-it-out offense and are always looking for new ways to make the relentless business of winning a trifle more interesting. Prior to the Ohio State showdown, Bo lectured his team about “Thinking No. 1 until it's stamped on your mind.” Then on cue, a bald assistant stepped forward and took off a stocking cap to reveal a big blue “No. 1" painted on his pate.

Game day on November 24 dawned gray, damp and cool, as could be expected in late autumn in Ann Arbor, when the sun would be setting not much after 4 PM. The game predictably developed into an unimaginative clash of I-formation offenses battering against two of the best defenses in the country. Hayes came to Ann Arbor with the unspoken knowledge that the Buckeyes not only would not throw, but could not with skittery soph QB Cornelius Greene, a superb runner but not a passer of note. Nor was Michigan's passing worthy of celebration, either, but it became very effective toward the end before QB Franklin suffered a broken collarbone and Schembechler subsequently deflated the ball and his team's winning chances. Ultimately, the caution may have cost Michigan the Rose Bowl invitation.

Hayes’ Ohio State was as one-dimensional as possible, completely eschewing the forward pass, and went as far as the squirming RB Archie Griffin could take it. He did not score but he slipped enough tackles to get 163 yards in 30 carries and set up a 31-yard second-quarter field goal by Blair Conway and a later five-yard TD burst by Hayes' 250-lb. FB Pete Johnson. With a 10-0 lead, the Buckeyes looked home and hosed at halftime.

Until, that is, Michigan awakened in the second half. More specifically, it was late in the third quarter, with OSU still up 10-0, when Buckeye QB Greene, facing fourth and two at the Wolverine 34, tried to sneak for the yardage. He did not make it. "I really thought we were going on to score a touchdown and maybe put the game out of reach," Woody said later.

Just as Griffin had done earlier for Ohio State, bruising FB Ed Shuttlesworth, who gained 116 yards in 27 cracks at the heart of the Buckeye defense, would get Michigan moving. Shuttlesworth carried on eight of the 11 plays that led to a 30-yard field goal by Mike Lantry early in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 10-3. Then a tying 49-yard TD drive featured not only Shuttlesworth again but also QB Franklin's 27-yard pass to Paul Seal, and the score was level at 10-10 as a grandstand finish awaited.

With Griffin carrying four straight times for 29 yards, Ohio State responded with a late bid to regain the lead. But Griffin missed two plays with a leg cramp and the drive lost its impetus.

Franklin then took Michigan to the Ohio State 48 but was soon KO’d from the game due to his collarbone injury. Backup QB Larry Cipa entered with 2:25 remaining--under orders from Bo to stay on the ground. When asked later if he became too conservative sans Franklin, Bo bristled. "We didn't settle for a tie, we did everything we could to win." Three running plays leading to a 58-yard field-goal attempt (that came remarkably close) Lantry did not seem much like pulling out all the stops.

The Buckeyes would get the ball back, and after 49 straight (!) running plays, Woody finally decided to put the ball in the air for the first time all afternoon. The fact he inserted backup QB Greg Hare, abetter thrower than starter Greene, might have tipped off the Wolverines. Predictably, Hare’s first pass was intercepted, giving Michigan a more realistic opportunity at a winning field goal, but moments later Lantry would miss badly from 44 yards. The game, like Notre Dame and Michigan State seven years earlier, would end 10-10.

As the seconds ran out on the 10-10 tie, 105,223 people, an NCAA regular-season record, went home assuming the Big Ten's Rose Bowl representative would be Michigan, since Ohio State had gone to Pasadena the previous 1972 season. But on Sunday a vote of conference athletic directors produced something of a surprise. The choice was Ohio State, perhaps a reflection of the Buckeyes’ slightly more impressive season and the fact that Franklin probably would be unable to play. The Big Ten has lost the last four Rose Bowls, so its athletic directors were guided by expedience, not sentiment. "I'm very bitter," said Schembechler. "It's a tragic thing for Big Ten football."

Schembechler would become more bitter when the votes of the Big Ten athletic directors were made public. A tie of the votes of the ten ADs would have given Michigan the Rose Bowl bid, since it had been longer since the Wolverines had played in Pasadena. Iowa, Minnesota, and Indiana would join Michigan in voting for the Wolverines...but not in-state Michigan State, which would cast a deciding vote in Ohio State’s favor. These were old grudges bubbling back to the surface in regard to the Spartans, whose entry into the league two decades earlier had been stalled repeatedly by the Wolverines (who, rightly, had issues with some of the skullduggery going on at East Lansing in those days under the watch of legendary Biggie Munn).

Indeed, the 6-4 decision in favor of Ohio State so outraged Schembechler that he was slapped with a two-year probation for accusing Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke of "engineering" the vote.

In the end, the Buckeyes proved they belonged in Pasadena by throttling defending national champ Southern Cal, 42-21, and giving the league its first Rose Bowl win since the Rex Kern Buckeyes beat the Trojans and O.J. Simpson five years earlier. But don’t think that result caused the Michigan folks to accept their fate. If anything, the passing years have made all of the Wolverine players, and fans who remember, even more bitter.

1974


Once more, Ohio State and Michigan would face off for the Rose Bowl in 1974, although both were not unbeaten and untied as in the run-up to the 1973 classic. In ‘74, the Buckeyes had topped the polls all season until stunned again, as they were in 1972, by an upstart Michigan State at East Lansing in a highly-controversial 16-13 decision in earlier November when Buckeye wingback Brian Baschnagel’s last-second TD was waved off, as refs said the ball was snapped after the final whistle. Hayes, as expected, fumed, but still had a chance to get back to the Rose Bowl by beating Schembechler and the Wolverines in a scenario eerily similar to 1972.

As for Bo, it was not lost upon him, and every Wolverine backer, that his teams had posted a 30-1-1 record since the beginning of the 1972 season, but as of yet did not have a Rose Bowl trip to show for it.

If there were ever any doubt about preternatural goings on in Columbus, the matchup would prove that Woody Hayes was indeed a soothsayer for the ages. Invoking such household deities as Abraham Lincoln, Robert Redford, General Patton, Jonas Salk, Little Orphan Annie and Archie Griffin, the "Olentangy Oracle" prophesied that the clash between Ohio State and Michigan would be an athletic Armageddon, a holy war waged in behalf of God, country and well-groomed men everywhere.

"I feel sometimes that the Man upstairs sort of likes us," Woody said on the eve of the big showdown. "Maybe we deserved the thing that happened to us--notice I didn't say 'defeat'-- Michigan State two weeks ago. Maybe He was testing us, saying, 'Let's see what kind of people are at Ohio State...Do they take defeat lightly? Can they come back from adversity?' "

The Buckeyes' controversial 16-13 loss to the Spartans was not taken lightly, especially by a coach who seemed ready to backhand the first man who suggested that it was anything but "questionable." But all focus was now on the Wolverines, for all season long, in fact, the only real question has been what could Ohio State and Michigan possibly do for an encore?

Anything, it was hoped, but a repeat of the frustration of the previous year’s 10-10 tie that required a vote by the Big Ten ADs to determine who would go to the Rose Bowl.

Again, it was primordial football, like two bull moose battering into one another. Schembechler had even decided to outfit the Wolverines differently from previous years, shunning the traditional maize pants on the road for white instead, an awful, drab look consistent with the neanderthal-like battle which seemed out of place on the sterile, Astro Turf pitch. If there was ever a game that seemed like it should be played on loose natural turn with mud-spattered uniforms, it was Buckeyes-Wolverines.

Despite the postgame haggling from ‘73, the weekend was one of those rare instances in which the event was worthy of the buildup. That was no small achievement considering all the drum-beating that Hayes was doing in the run-up to the game. "By comparison," he kept telling anyone who would listen, "the Super Bowl and the World Series don't even compare with our rivalry. USC versus UCLA? Ho hum." At other moments he would turn historian. "How did our great rivalry get started? Well, the real fight started back in 1836 when Andrew Jackson, that wily old cuss, took Toledo away from that state up north and gave it to us."

As for Schembechler, he was disinclined to rehash the events of the prior century--or even the previous year. "I don't want to talk about it," he said. "This is football, not politics. Nothing that happened last year matters this year."

Bo apparently had not been frequenting the Michigan dorms before kickoff. Linebacker Steve Strinko, for one, said before the game, "You're never going to see a team as high as Michigan in Columbus. It went to a vote last year and they shafted us. So we're not going to let them shaft us this time. The other day some of us were sitting around watching TV and one of the guys said, 'If you gave me an elbow pad before the Ohio State game I'd be ready to eat it.' " The Banks brothers, Harry and Larry, promised to be even more demonstrative. Larry, a defensive end, aware that Ohio State's Archie Griffin was going for his 22nd consecutive game of rushing for 100 or more yards, said, "The only way Griffin will get 100 yards is if I die." Harry, a defensive back, added, "If we lose, I hope to exhale my last breath on the field."

Dennis Franklin, Michigan's slick-faking quarterback, who has been troubled with a sprained ankle, drew comparisons with another battle of titans that took place in Zaire just three weeks earlier. "When Ali fought Foreman he could have taken it easy because he'd already been champ. What did he have to win for? He had to win because he had so much pride to regain after all the inequities he had to go through. That's what it's like for us."

The Buckeyes were no less psyched up. "This is going to be college football at its very best," predicted D-back Neal Colzie. "They say that pro ball is not like this. If that's true, I'll be very disappointed."

But for most, there was not much difference in the teams, save for the uniforms. Hayes and Schembechler, whose careers were so similar, were also so alike in method that most believed their teams could exchange playbooks and it would doubtful if anyone in the stands or on TV would be any wiser.

Indeed, except for a surprise opening pass that came within a knuckle or two of being intercepted, the two teams were almost mirror images of one another once again. Franklin threw a bit more and Buckeye counterpart Cornelius Greene did a lot of scrambling during the afternoon, but the primary tactics were the same: grind it out.

The first two quarters differed sharply. The Wolverines kicked off with the wind, pinned Ohio State inside its 15 and took over near midfield. On their fourth play, Franklin, his injured leg taped like a thoroughbred's, passed over the middle to Gil Chapman, who eluded one tackier and veered off to the corner of the end zone for a 42-yard score. On their second series, Gordon Bell, a bolter who runs at a forward angle that seems to defy gravity, crashed for 43 yards in seven plays to set up a field goal by Mike Lantry. With barely 10 minutes expired, the Wolverines were ahead 10-0. It looked for a moment as if a high-scoring game, if not a rout, might be in the offing.

But only for a moment. With Griffin shifting into overdrive, Ohio State invaded Michigan territory at the end of the quarter. On the first play of the second period, with a 20-mile-an-hour wind behind him, Buckeye Kicker Tom Klaban set up for what was to become a familiar sight. Though the snap was errant, Klaban got off a 47-yard sidewinder that hooked through the uprights.

Griffin kept pounding away to the increasing befuddlement of the Wolverine defense. At one point, when LB Strinko met the powering Griffin head on in a hugger-mugger clasp, Strinko went down and sat there for several long astonished moments watching Archie plow on for five more yards. More discouraging for Strinko, Schembechler and the Wolverines was the sight of Klaban coming on to register another field goal, a 25-yarder, the second of the quarter. Then, with just seconds remaining in the first half, Greene connected with Split End Dave Hazel for 26 yards to usher Klaban in once again. His third kick was a 43-yarder that cut the Michigan margin to 10-9.

Bell, who rushed for 93 yards in the first half, was held to a mere 16 after the break mainly because of the ferocious play of Buckeyes such as LB Bruce Elia and DT Pete Cusick. With Corny Greene finding his running legs, the Buckeyes penetrated far enough early in the third quarter to again bring in the omnipresent Klaban. His kick, a 45-yard boomer, put Ohio State into the lead for the first time, 12-10.

From there on it was all push and shove with Cusick & Co. getting in most of the hardest licks. During one series the 250-pound Cusick singlehandedly stopped the Wolverines cold three times in succession. The Ohio State defense, plus a pair of booming punts by Tom Skladany that traveled 63 and 55 yards, and a key interception by DB Neal Colzie, throttled the Wolverines.

True to the tradition of the rivalry, some last-ditch heroics were in order and Michigan tried to comply when Franklin passed to WR Jim Smith for 21 yards. Then, in what looked like a replay of the fading seconds of the '73 war, Lantry, a 26-year-old Vietnam veteran, came in for a 33-yard field-goal attempt. The kick soared high and long enough but it was off to the left by about one foot--about the same margin that denied Michigan a victory in 1973.

By winning, Ohio State forced another vote by the athletic directors and, because of the narrow margin of victory, it seemed possible that Michigan would go to Pasadena. The ten ADs met in Chicago on Sunday and their meeting was long and vocal, but when they emerged Ohio State was again told to start packing for California while for Michigan it was another chorus of “no place like home for the holidays.”

Three seasons for Schembechler, a 30-2-1 record, and not a bowl bid to be had. The Big Ten would change its bowl participation rules the next year. But not soon enough to help three of the greatest Michigan teams of all-time make even a token bowl appearance.

Ohio State and Michigan still play every year. But forgive us if we can’t get quite as excited about the nowaday matchup featuring Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer. After living through the 10-year war, and Bo Schembechler vs. Woody Hayes at their best, we saw enough intensity from the Buckeyes and Wolverines to last us a lifetime!

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