There's not much to review for this gameday in history as the Michigan Wolverines have only played three games on Sept. 3: in '94, '05, and '11. The first matchup brought Boston College to Ann Arbor while the last two brought a pair of MAC teams - Northern Illinois and Western Michigan - to the Big House.
Greatest Victory: 34-26 over Boston College in '94
Of the three games, this is the only victory that came against an opponent that won meaningful games later in the year. The Boston College Eagles flew into Ann Arbor with a full head after two consecutive third place finishes in the AAC and a 9-3 record in '93. However, the Eagles entered the game with a new head coach - Dan Henning - after former head coach Tom Coughlin flew the coop of college football to the NFL. As for the Wolverines, fifth year head coach Gary Moeller looked to build off a win in the Hall of Fame bowl and bring Michigan back to double-digit wins for the first time since his second season in '92.
The game began well...for the Eagles. If you arrived late to the Big House that day, you might have worried that Michigan was going to blow this one. Thanks to "a play called the speed pump" Boston College quarterback Mark Hartsell tossed a 74-yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 7-0 just 16 seconds into the game. Later in the first half, the Eagles would be up 12-0 with no Michigan offense in sight.
With the early deficit and no Heisman candidate - and current Michigan running backs coach - Tyrone Wheatley due to injury, things could have fallen apart for the Wolverines. However, the early lead would be Boston's high point that day as Michigan stormed back. With a little over four minutes left in the first half, Ed Davis erased the zero on the scoreboard with an 8-yard touchdown run. Wideout Amani Toomer followed Davis with "a 54-yarder in which he broke some tackles, sidestepped some defenders and waltzed into the end zone, with 25 seconds to go in the half." Coming out after halftime up 14-12, Toomer found the endzone again on Michigan's first possession of the second half, and Michigan never looked back. Tim Biakabutuka and Davis both crossed the goal line in the fourth quarter to open Michigan's lead to 34-12 before Boston College score a couple meaningless touchdowns in the final minutes.
After the game, Michigan quarterback Todd Collins, who finished with 258 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception on 17 of 24 passing - told the press that the early deficit benefited the Wolverines: "Actually, I was hoping we'd get down to B.C. 7-0, 14-0. It was a good test. When we went down, 12-0, the guys didn't get nervous at all. I knew we'd win because we're Michigan and we have too much talent."
Michigan would go on to another average and disappointing 8-4 season under Moeller - his last in Ann Arbor - before starting the Lloyd Carr-era. Boston College rebounded from the loss to finish 7-4-1 with notable wins against #8 Notre Dame, #14 Syracuse, and #11 Kansas State.
Defeat Win: 34-10 over Western Michigan in 2011
Oh, how little we knew of what the Hoke-era would become us after a fine start to the 2011 season. It's hard to choose a bad victory between the two remaining games, but this one edges out the Nortnern Illinois game for a couple of reasons. First, it marked the beginning of Brady Hoke's tenure as Michigan's head coach, four years marked by blind luck in year one and gradual degradation the remaining three years until the program needed to be reborn under our savior, Jim Harbaugh. Second, the game ended in the third quarter due to lightning storms. Lame. It was a shortened, forgettable game save for the performance of linebacker Brandon Herron. Herron returned an interception 94 yards for a touchdown, the second-longest such return in school history and longest since a 95-yard return by Tom Harmon in 1939. Furthermore, with both an interception and a fumble for a touchdown against the Broncos, he became the first defensive player to score two touchdowns in Michigan history. So other than Herron, this game should not be remembered.
Game Most Likely to be Repeated against the Utes:
Toss up a three-sided coin? I'd guess that, of the three victories, the '94 Boston College outcome has the highest probability of repeating itself on Thursday. The weather forecasts a beautiful day for football in Salt Lake City, which means no repeat of a lightening-shortened Broncos game (or, for that matter, the Michigan-Utah game last year). And as much as I would love to see Utah Utes cough over five turnovers à la the Northern Illinois Huskies in '05, I don't think that's happening. That makes an early Utah lead turned into a fairly comfortable Michigan victory the most likely outcome on Thursday.
Game We Want to see Repeated against the Utes:
The '05 win over Northern Illinois. Michigan never trailed and carried a 27-10 lead into the locker rooms at halftime before finishing the game up 33-17. The Huskies turned the ball over five times, Michigan blocked a field goal, and 8 different rushers combined for 208 yards and two touchdowns for the Wolverines. If all of that happens on Thursday, Harbaugh will have brought Christmas to us early.
That's it for Michigan's history on Sept. 3. They haven't lost yet, and I don't expect that to change on Thursday. Go Blue!
Overall Record on Sept. 3
1994 vs. Boston College, 34-26
2005 vs. Northern Illinois, 33-17
2011 vs. Western Michigan, 35-10