Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Special Time of Year

Perhaps part of the reason I am so opposed to "Christmas creep" is that to me, November is about two things: Thanksgiving and Michigan/Ohio State.

Now, I must admit, given my particular age, I have much more vivid memories of Michigan's games against Michigan State in the 1980s than I do against the Buckeyes.  That makes sense to me.  After all, Woody was "dismissed" as OSU's coach the January before I was born, and in Michigan, when you go to school with all of those kids who are Sparties, and all of those teachers who are Sparties, that game becomes something larger.  But that doesn't make "The Game" any less special to me.  So now, without any particular idea, notion, or limit, here are some of my favorite personal memories of the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry. (With a tremendous amount of help from YouTube and particularly the clips uploaded by UMGoBlue.com)

After all, it's like Sunni/Shi'ia in this affair.

November 23, 1991:
Desmond Howard, strike a pose.

It was Michigan's second year without Bo, and as a young Michigan fan, I didn't know exactly what that meant.  I was in eighth grade, and I don't have many fond memories of middle school, except this one.  Earlier in the year, Desmond had made "that catch" against Notre Dame and had become the "Runaway" favorite for the Heisman Trophy, but some kind of capper seemed only fitting.

He took the ball on his own seven, blasted by two Buckeyes and then just took off.  I mean, he flew, amazing speed, and just outruns everyone for his 23rd touchdown of the year, his second on a return.

But that's not why everyone remembers it.  It's because as he crossed the goal line, Keith Jackson just says simply "Goodbye (long pause) Hello Heisman" and as he does, Desmond strikes the pose, a picture that is as iconic as anything you can think of with Michigan fans.  In a game Michigan would win 31-3, it wasn't a game breaker, but it was a heartbreaker for OSU.
November 25, 1995:
Touchdown Timmy and Turkey

It was two days after Thanksgiving and due to work schedules, we were celebrating Turkey Day on that Saturday at my grandparents' house in Livonia.  I made sure that I could watch it, my first Michigan game as an accepted freshman at Michigan.  The odds were long.  Michigan was the #18 team in the country, Ohio State was #2.  

I remember one thing and then YouTube prompted the other one.  It just seemed like everytime Michigan had the ball, Tshimanga "Tim" Biakabutuka was scoring a touchdown.  He would end the day with 313 yards on the ground and plenty of scores.  If you didn't know how to spell his name before that day, you would certainly know later.

What I had forgotten was, despite being victimized twice by Terry Glenn in the first half, Charles Woodson had a pair of picks (one, two) of Bobby Hoying to help seal the deal for the Maize and Blue in a 31-23 win.
November 23, 1996:
It's a perfectly justifiable use of a time-out

Lloyd's second season, my freshman year.  I don't have a lot of specific memories of this game because I was attempting to sneak views of it during the very first NAQT Sectional tournament, which was being held at Michigan.  What I do remember is being in the auditorium of one of the Engineering buildings on North Campus and one of the players from, I want to say Bowling Green, called a time out in the middle of his match because we were watching the game in the back of the room where his match was being played to see the final last grasp for the then #2-Buckeyes in a 13-9 win for the once again low-ranked Wolverines in Columbus.  I also remember one of the players on the opposing team being very very upset about this, but that isn't as clear in my mind.

Your highlight from this is the hook-up between Brian Griese and Tai Streets to make it a 9-7 game at the start of the third quarter.

Ahh Columbus, fair game for the mocking of Aaron Sorkin.
November 22, 1997:
The pepper spray still brings tears to my eyes

We knew it was magic.  We had had the "leaping interception" by Charles Woodson against Michigan State (yes, this mention is solely an excuse to link to that clip, which is still one of the most amazing football plays I have ever seen in my life.)  We had the rally against the Hawkeyes, and now, here it was #1 Michigan vs. #4 Ohio State.  After two straight years of ruining the Buckeyes' perfect seasons, would it be tOSU's turn to flip the script?  Not so much.  

I remember it being particularly cold and that they had to scrape a layer of slush-ice off the Michigan Stadium turf before the game (which you can see off to the side if you look closely in the video clips.)  I was with Dave in Section 27, Row 53, Seat 17 and we were surrounded by a rogue's gallery of people we'd never seen before.  The controversy all week on campus was "Would we rush the field if we won?"  The higher-ups made it very clear that this practice was to be verboten and that "trespassers" would be dealt with appropriately.

Thankfully, my two of my three major memories of the game's action are preserved in YouTube clips.
0). Charles Woodson's amazing punt return (see the long form.)
1). Charles Woodson's touchdown saving interception in the end zone to preserve the 13-0 lead.
2). Marcus Ray's utter destruction of David Boston in the fourth quarter.  (This was one of those "OHHHH" moments in the stadium where everyone collectively just cannot believe what they saw.  It was that amazing and made the cover of Sports Illustrated that week.)

As the game ended, students poured on to the field, and, if you have ever been to the Big House, you know that is no easy feat.  The earliest transgressors were hit with pepper spray, which wafted up into the stands and began burning the eyes of even those of us who remained in our seats.  But it didn't matter.  We were headed to Pasadena, one last hurdle to clear, and we were reminded that, as always, it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

(Long form highlights here, but I can't say I approve of some of the title cards.)
November 22, 2003:
100 times

Michigan gets it done.  What more needed to be said?
I left off last year's game because I have some very specific memories which I will discuss in a post later this week.


Jeremy said...

Hi all - so, I tried "joining" this blog to contribute. However, my blog has been merged with the Google blogger beta, so I get stuck in an endless loop of "click here to join" --> "sign in" --> "sign in with google" --> "click here to join." Any advice?

Craig Barker said...

Hmm, I got nothing. You Geoff?

Geoff said...

Not really. I'll try looking into the guts of Blogger about it. In the meantime, if you've got a post you want to make, email it to us at our UMICH address (hooverstreetrag).

Aram said...

Hey, if you guys are looking for more MMB input, I'm definitely interested in helping out. I have another blog here on Blogger that I haven't updated in forever... But this one definitely seems right up my alley.