With their 95th meeting on the gridiron coming up next (it's not in 2013 or 2014), it's safe to say that Michigan has had the upper hand over Illinois through the years. The Wolverines have an overall record of 69-23-2 against the Illini and rattled off a 16-game winning streak from 1967-1982. Looking at the matchup over each decade, the Wolverines only have one such span with a losing record against the Illini: the 1910's, when Michigan went 0-1 against Illinois due to a 29-7 loss in 1919.
The High: November 6th, 2010, Michigan 67 - Illinois 65 (3OT)
Most Wolverines fans would like to forget the three Rich Rod years, but in his final season as Michigan's head coach, Rodriguez led the team to a grueling and fun-to-watch (if you only like offense) 67-65 triple overtime victory over Illinois in 2010. The victory ended a three-game losing streak that had crushed the hopes built upon the team's 5-0 start that season. And more importantly, the overtime win made the Wolverines bowl eligible for the first time under Rich Rod, brought some excitement back to the football program, and re-started our bowl eligible streak that Brady Hoke will never let die.
Surprisingly, with such a high score, you might assume Denard led the team to victory. However, even though Denard put up big numbers through the first three quarters, it was Tate Forcier who climbed off the bench and led the team through the fourth quarter and overtime. Forcier eventually helped score the game-winning points with a 2-pt conversion pass to Junior Hemingway in the third overtime.
With a score like that, numerous records were broken, some good and some bad: Roy Roundtree set Michigan's single-game receiving yards record at 246 yards, Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier combined to set Michigan's single-game passing yards record at 419 yards, and Illinois's 65 points are the most ever allowed by a Michigan defense (just outscoring the opponents worked for once, thanks Rich). There were many more, but I won't list them here. I think another one the Wolverines set was "Most Wins by a Michigan football against Illinois in 2010," breaking the previous record of zero.
Check out some highlights of the awesome offenses and pathetic defenses here.
The Low: October 29th, 1983, Michigan 6 - Illinois 16
Coming into the 1983 showdown against Illinois, Bo Schembechler had never lost a game against the Illini. Both teams came into the game undefeated with hopes of a Big Ten Championship and a trip the Rose Bowl on the line. Unfortunately, the Illini's defense stifled the Wolverines and Michigan lost 16-6. The Wolverines would ultimately finish second in the Big Ten in '83. Since I wasn't born yet, I'll let the highlights speak for themselves here.
The Other Important Games: Both Ties (1985 and 1992)
Everyone knows ties are liking kissing your sister, and the sentiment couldn't be any more true for Michigan in its two ties with Illinois. In 1992, the Wolverines went undefeated at 9-0-3, won the Big Ten, but only entered the bowl season ranked #7. With two other ties against AP ranked #3 Notre Dame and #17 Ohio, a tie against unranked Illinois definitely didn't help the Wolverines ranking. Even though the tie ensured Michigan's Big Ten title and Rose Bowl bid, a win against the Illini could've propelled the Wolverines into the National Championship discussion, since they most likely would have entered their Rose Bowl victory against #9 Washington with a higher ranking.
However, the 1985 tie had a greater effect on Michigan's chance at a National Championship. In 1985, the Wolverines finished the season 10-1-1, with the one loss coming against #2 Iowa who won the Big Ten that year. The Wolverines won the Fiesta Bowl against #7 Nebraska and finished the season ranked #2 behind the National Champions, the Oklahoma Sooners. It becomes interesting because the Sooners finished 11-1 that year, the record the Wolverines would have had if they hadn't tied Illinois. Maybe an extra win sways voters to lean towards Michigan in the final polls. Who knows. All I know is I'm glad ties are a thing of the past.