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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Top Ten Victories in the Carr Era: #10 & #9


Yesterday, we gave you our five Michigan victories during Coach Carr's 12 years at the helm that didn't quite make the Top Ten but landed on our Honorable Mention list.

Today, we start counting down numbers 10 through 1 -- the biggest Wolverine wins since 1995. As mentioned yesterday, what makes a win "great" is a subjective thing. But Benny and I based our decision on a combination of factors including importance for the program, season impact, intangibles, who the opponent was (let's face it, a thriller against highly ranked arch rival Ohio State is always a candidate) and just the plain ol' excitement factor of the game.

So here we go...

10. #14 Michigan 18, #17 Virginia 17

What happened: In his first game as Michigan's head coach, Lloyd Carr's squad staged what was, at the time, the biggest comeback in U-M football history, rallying from 17-0 down in the 4th quarter. Mercury Hayes caught a touchdown pass from Scott Dreisbach as time expired.

Why it made the list: Couple of reasons. To start, the game was the first after a summer of turmoil in Ann Arbor. Gary Moeller had been fired during the off-season following his drunken outburst at a Detroit-area bar and Mo's defensive coordinator Lloyd Carr was tapped to step in, for no other reason, than it was the middle of summer and who else were they going to get. By the time the UVA game rolled around, people just wanted to get back to talking about football on the field for a change. So the win was big from a "righting the ship" standpoint and to show the Moeller firing hadn't dealt some sort of lethal blow to the Michigan program.

Second, as Lloyd's first game, it was imperative, playing a ranked team at home, he start his tenure off on the right foot. If he loses this game, all the naysayers are breathing down his neck from the first game and already talking about his replacement (he was only the "interim" coach at the start of the season). Instead, he started off 5-0 that first year and continued Michigan's winning ways.

Finally, it was a damn exciting game. If you were there (as I was) you probably remember the heat. It was as hot of a game as I've ever been to in A2. An older gentlemen in our section even passed out from the heat. Wilting just as badly was Michigan's chances at victory, down by 17 in the 4th. But with one beautiful fade route on the game's final play, the heat didn't seem so bad. And say what you will about Michigan teams under Lloyd, they rarely get blown out and never quit. This game summed up and started that trait.

9. 1999 #16 Michigan 31, #6 Penn State 27

What happened: Tom Brady brought the Wolverines back from a 27-17 deficit in the final 3:26 to lead the Wolverines to victory in Happy Valley.

Why it made the list: We picked this game from the '99 season over the Orange Bowl OT win against 'Bama to end the season for a couple reasons. First of all, this game (finally) put to rest Michigan's dual QB system once and for all. The shared time between Brady and Drew Henson was used earlier in the season and many fans (yours truly included) blame the 34-31 loss by undefeated #3 U-M to #11 MSU on keeping Henson in instead of switching to Brady who almost led the team to a miraculous comeback on the road. The Penn State game, down 10 in a hostile environment, showed what Brady was capable of, no matter what the score. Besides a win for the team, the self-confidence factor for a guy that had to split time was probably immeasurable as well.

In addition, after starting out 1-3 against the Nittany Lions since they joined the conference, the amazing comeback was Michigan's third win in a row over Penn State, and they've never looked back (or lost).

Finally, the win - coupled with a victory over OSU a week later - locked up Michigan's first trip to a BCS bowl since the league joined the arrangement the previous year.

Ok, the list was going to be a little longer for today, but real life intrudes. More to come.

9 comments:

Jeremy said...

This was Brady to Marcus Knight on a deep fade route for the win yes?

surrounded in columbus said...

great story on the UVA game, but you left out the best part- "so where were you when they scored?", which you have to ask to all the fans who left early.

i came up from columbus w/ a friend (not a michigan fan), his 10 yr old son, and three other fans. by the fourth quarter, my friend opted to take his son home because of the heat (having no horse in the race, i couldn't fault him). of the other three in our group, two decided to gut it out, the third left early (along w/ 20,000+ other fans).

to this day we joke that he was @ the Dundee exit (mile post 17, going S on US 23) when we won the game.

Irishgambler said...

Do you guys remember the play before the TD pass? I believe it was a short pass over the middle that was dropped. If it had been caught time would have run out.

Chadwick said...

I am glad I am not the only one who blamed Drew Henson for the loss to Michigan State. I always despised that two quarterback system, but at least the Penn State game solved the problem. We will always have to wonder what might have been if Lloyd would have just stuck with Brady all season.

Yost said...

IG,

You're are 100% correct. I think it was to Tyrone Butterfield/Butterfingers. Luckily, he dropped the pass at the 3 or game over.

Will22 said...

Wasn't the Penn State game the one where they had Brady fake an injury and then ran a throwback pass to Henson on the next play?

Peter said...

That is correct on the throwback to Henson.

I was at a high school quiz bowl tournament (hey, it was fun...). I took a small TV and watched the game between games. I missed the end though, and I was shocked when I called my sister's roommate and she said we won, I had last watched when we were down 10.

A related question, has Henne run the double pass yet? The three quarterbacks before him have (Henson vs. PSU in '99, if you include Gonzales, he did it vs. Illinois in '01, and Navarre vs. Minnesota in '03), I don't remember if Brady did, and Griese did vs. Wisconsin in '97.

How about a top 10 Michigan trick plays?

now_a_hoo said...

I was a lifelong UM fan from VA who rooted for UVa, as much to annoy my partents as anything.

They had us (freshmen) running laps because my hs's team had just scored. They announced that Michigan had scored in the last second to win. I said then "This game never happened."

Now, as a UVa grad student, still obsessed with UM and still a UVa fan, I still believe that the 1995 Michigan-UVa game NEVER HAPPENED.

Hornet1978 said...

I'll never forget the look on Welsh's face when ABC put a camera in front of his mug. Classic.