The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 21 of 275

20 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW M A LOOK BACK AT THE BIG TEN FIVE YEARS AGO: 2009 After a promising start to the season, the Wol- verines lost their final seven conference games to close out the season and missed a bowl game for the second consecutive year. Four teams jockeyed for position atop the Big Ten standings, with Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State and Wisconsin all finishing with double-digit wins. But the Buckeyes topped all three, beating Wis- consin (31-13), Penn State (24-7) and Iowa (27-24) to earn their fifth consecutive outright Big Ten championship (2005-09). After two BCS National Championship Game appearances and two Fiesta Bowl appearances in the last four years, Ohio State earned a bid to its first Rose Bowl since 1996. The Buckeyes toppled Oregon 26-17, the first Rose Bowl win by a Big Ten team since Wisconsin beat Stanford 17-9 in the 2000 edition of the game. BIG TEN TOP FIVE 1. Ohio State (11-2 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) 2. Iowa (11-2, 6-2) 3. Penn State (11-2, 6-2)* 4. Wisconsin (10-3, 5-3) 5. Northwestern (8-5, 5-3) * Vacated due to Jerry Sandusky scandal CHICAGO TRIBUNE SILVER FOOTBALL WINNER Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham and Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark BIG TEN COACH OF THE YEAR Kirk Ferentz, Iowa 10 YEARS AGO: 2004 Between 2002-04, Iowa went a combined 31-7. However, the Hawkeyes, who have made just five Rose Bowl appearances all time (1956, 1958, 1981, 1985 and 1990), did not earn an invitation to Pasa- dena during the illustrious run. The 2004 season may have been Iowa's best chance to advance to the Rose Bowl, with a 9-2 regular-season campaign that included a 7-1 mark in conference play. That lone Big Ten loss, in Iowa's first conference game of the year, was a 30-17 deci- sion to Michigan. The Wolverines earned the conference's bid to the Rose Bowl because of that victory. Wide re- ceiver Braylon Edwards, who won the Biletnikoff Award as the country's best wide receiver, helped lift the Wolverines to the conference crown with a 189-yard, three-touchdown performance in a wild 45-37 triple-overtime comeback victory over Michigan State. Despite the Big Ten title, the Wolverines ended the year on a disappointing slump, losing at Ohio State (37-21) and narrowly falling to a Vince Young- led Texas team (38-37) in the Rose Bowl. BIG TEN TOP FIVE 1. Michigan (9-3, 7-1) 2. Iowa (10-2, 7-1) 3. Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2) 4. Northwestern (6-6, 5-3) 5. Ohio State (8-4, 4-4) CHICAGO TRIBUNE SILVER FOOTBALL WINNER Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards BIG TEN COACH OF THE YEAR Kirk Ferentz, Iowa JON FALK RECALLS CHAMPIONSHIP SPARK FROM 1997 SEASON Any championship season has a few close calls along the way. The difference in those campaigns involves pulling out the tight ones, instead of letting them slip away. The 1997 Wolverines certainly experienced such a phenomenon. U-M withstood three turnovers on its own side of the field to put down Notre Dame early that year, 21-14. Michigan survived cliffhangers in the regular-season finale versus Ohio State, 20-14, and against Washington State in the Rose Bowl, 21-16. But the greatest escape in that national title season involved the tale of two halves against Iowa in Michigan Stadium on Oct. 18. The Wolverines, and quarterback Brian Griese, couldn't do much right for the opening 30 minutes of that game. Iowa led at the half, 21-7, and it looked like the Wolverines' undefeated ramble through their schedule was finally ready to jump the tracks. Recently retired U-M equipment man Jon Falk remembers halftime of that game as if it were yesterday. He's certain he'll never forget it, either. Griese threw three interceptions in that first half, including one returned 64 yards to set up an Iowa touchdown. The Wolver- ines left the field to some boos that day, but were about to turn it all around. Falk recalled: "As we walked up that tunnel, those players from Iowa started screaming: 'It's over, Michigan. It's over. Your undefeated season's out the door. It's done here, Michigan. You're not coming back today. The old Hawkeyes are going to beat the Wolverines today.' "Everybody heard that as they went into the locker room. The kids went in, and they sat down in that locker room. Nobody said a word. Then all of a sudden, Brian Griese got up. "He said, 'Men, I want you to know, I played the worst half of football, ever.' He said, 'There's too much on the line now. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure we come back and beat Iowa. I'm asking you players to unite with me and play your hardest today, so we can walk out of here and beat Iowa.' He said, 'You're going to see Brian Griese play one of the best halves he'll ever play. I promise you that.'" Griese did exactly that. He wound up accounting for three touchdowns in the second half, one on a one-yard run, two more on passes to running back Russell Shaw and tight end Jerame Tuman. He didn't set Iowa up with any more points, either, allowing the redoubtable Michigan defense to dig in and surrender just three points in the second half. The Wolverines rallied to win, 28-24, setting up their unblemished roll to the national championship. Falk remembers a conversation he enjoyed with Iowa head coach Hayden Fry after- wards. It proved prophetic, as the season moved toward its historic ending. "He's a friend of mine," Falk noted. "Hayden looked up at me, and he says, 'Jon, I thought we had the old Wolverines today.' "I said, 'Let me tell you something, Hayden. You may have sparked this team. They're going to be united for the rest of the year.' And that's what happened." Falk remembered how head coach Lloyd Carr guided that crew through all the possible pitfalls and to one of the shining moments in Michigan football history. "For us to be able to beat Ohio State the way we did that year … Lloyd did a great job with the players," Falk assured. "I go to sleep at night, and I dream about a lot of things at Michigan, and the players. "Inevitably, Lloyd's voice will always be in my brain: 'Men, you've created a legacy here today. You have just won the national championship.' Think about that — Michigan winning the national championship. That was a heck of an accomplishment, to go 12-0 and win the championship. "You've got to get players that play for you. Those players played for Lloyd, and they played for Michigan." Quarterback Brian Griese's fiery halftime speech helped U-M rally from a 21-7 deficit versus Iowa for a 28-24 win in the 1997 na- tional championship campaign. PHOTO BY BOB KALMBACH 8,10-12,14-28,30-32.IMA.indd 20 6/19/14 5:00 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - 2014 Michigan Football Preview