In the first two weeks of the season, the Michigan Wolverines played on dates that haven't been fixtures in previous schedules. Central and Notre Dame were only the third game for each date, respectively, in the history of Michigan football. However, this week finally takes us back to some pre-1990s Wolverines football since Saturday against Akron will be Michigan's sixth (and least exciting) game in history on the date of Sept. 14.
After failing to lose a game in the '73 season, the Wolverines opened their 1974 campaign on Sept. 14 at home against the Iowa Hawkeyes, a team in the middle of an awful stretch of football that lasted from '61 to '80. Until this Saturday, it'll be the only game on the 14th that Michigan played an unranked opponent. Needless to say, the Wolverines won handily by a score of 24-7, gaining 315 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and 34 yards and one touchdown through the air.
The next game on Sept. 14 wasn't until 1985, when the Wolverines faced #13 ranked Notre Dame. Michigan entered the game unranked and looking to rebound from Bo's worst season as head coach, a 6-6 showing in '84. The Fighting Irish hoped to find some consistency under head coach Gerry Faust after a nothing special '84 season, going 7-5 and losing to (soon-to-be-death-penaltied) SMU in the Aloha Bowl. But the Wolverines have never cared about Notre Dame's aspirations, and Michigan disposed of the Irish in the season opener by a score of 20-12. Trailing at the half 9-3, the Jim Harbaugh-led Wolverines took control of the second half to win the game. Following the win, Bo remarked, " [The win] means we're decent. We're not the dog people think we are." The win was the first of many for Michigan in '85, as they finished second in the Big Ten but #2 overall after beating #7 Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame stumbled to a 5-6 finish in Faust's last season as head coach.
Come 1991, #3 Michigan and #7 Notre Dame met again on Sept. 14, but this time during the second week of the season. The top-ranked showdown looked to be all Michigan's after the Wolverines sprinted out to a 17-0 lead in the first two quarters. But the Irish fought back, scoring 14 unanswered points to carry the game into the fourth quarter at 17-14. Needing a spark, the Wolverines faced fourth-and-one from Notre Dame's 25-yard line with a little over nine minutes to play. Instead of kicking the field goal, Michigan decides to go for it, and by go for it, I mean go for it all. Where most teams would run or throw a short pass, the Wolverines chose to air it out, and Elvis Grbac nailed Desmond Howard as he stretched out in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. It's another highlight for Desmond's '91 Heisman-winning season, and another reason why the Wolverines honor the #21 today. The score stood after the Howard touchdown, and Michigan won 24-14.
When Michigan played on Sept. 14 in '96, it wasn't a rivalry game against Notre Dame, but a top-ranked showdown against the #5 Colorado Buffaloes. The Wolverines sought revenge after falling to the Buffaloes at the Big House in 1994 in what's referred to as "The Miracle at Michigan," a moment no Michigan fan wants to remember. This time around, the Wolverines traveled out to Boulder, CO to shock the Buffaloes by a score of 20-13. While Colorado put up 347 offensive yards to Michigan's 247, the Wolverines held the Buffaloes scoreless for the last 30 minutes and 50 seconds to seal the victory. Colorado did get one last shot, a Hail Mary, but unlike '94, the pass fell incomplete.
There's one more game that happened on Sept. 14, a close loss against Notre Dame in '02. No point in talking about positives from the Irish's history. So here's to adding a fifth win on Sept. 14 this Saturday against Akron. Go Blue!
Overall Record on September 14th
1974 vs. Iowa, 24-7
1985 vs. #13 Notre Dame, 20-12
1991 vs. #7 Notre Dame, 24-14
1996 at #5 Colorado, 20-13
2002 at #20 Notre Dame, 23-25