Team 142 didn’t come this far to only come this far.
As the team comes down from the overwhelming high that followed beating Ohio State, it is now time for the Michigan Wolverines to turn their collective attention to the Iowa Hawkeyes. As the team has stated all week leading into the Big Ten Championship, “Job’s not finished.”
While it has been 10 years since Michigan has been in this position, let’s take a look back at how the five most recent teams have handled the game following defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes.
2011 - Beat Virginia Tech 23-20 (OT) in the Sugar Bowl
What a completely bizarre game. Michigan was outgained 377-184, including being out-passed 218-153 and out-rushed 163-56. Quarterback Denard Robinson only completed nine passes (most were prayers at best) and Virginia Tech only punted once.
Michigan did win the turnover battle 2-1 and the only kick Virginia Tech kicker Justin Meyer missed in his five attempts was the one he couldn’t afford to in overtime.
Football is weird sometimes and the Wolverines found a way to win.
2003 - Lost to USC 28-14 in the Rose Bowl
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they faced a USC team that featured two future Heisman Trophy winners (give Reggie Bush his Heisman you cowards) and a team that would only lose one game — before wins were vacated — over the next two seasons.
Neither team could establish the run and it was USC’s quarterback Matt Leinart getting the best through the air. Leinart completed 23-of-34 for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Compared to Michigan’s John Navarre who struggled, completing 27-of-46 for 271 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
One of the best offenses in the history of Michigan struggled to move the ball and while the defense played admirably, they ultimately ran into the beginning of a dynasty.
2000 - Beat Auburn 31-28 in the Citrus Bowl
All aboard the A-Train!
Michigan running back Anthony Thomas ran the ball 32 times for 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Moreover, Thomas became Michigan’s all-time leading rusher and scorer (at the time) with this performance in the Citrus Bowl.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wolverines only allowed 92 rushing yards and picked off Auburn quarterback Ben Leard once. While Leard threw for nearly 400 yards, it was almost all from behind as the Tigers tried to keep up with Michigan’s rushing attack (Narrator: “They could not.”).
1999 - Beat Alabama 35-34 (OT) in the Orange Bowl
This comeback victory was orchestrated by Michigan quarterback (and Greatest Living American) Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. The Wolverines trailed 28-14 in the second half before Brady connected with David Terrell to narrow the gap and running back Anthony Thomas tied the game at 28.
Michigan squandered chances to ice the game and had a kick blocked that forced overtime. Brady threw what would be the game-winning touchdown to wide receiver Shawn Thompson. Although Alabama responded with a touchdown of their own, Crimson Tide kicker Ryan Pflugner missed the game-extending extra point. Ball game.
Brady finished 34-of-46 for 364 yards and four touchdowns in his final game as a Wolverine.
1997 - Beat Washington State 21-16 in the Rose Bowl (National Champions)
The sweetest of them all and the last time Michigan was a national champion in football. Call them co-national champions if you want, but this team would have bulldozed the Coaches Poll champion Nebraska Cornhuskers and quarterback Scott Frost.
The Wolverines capped off their perfect season by beating quarterback Ryan Leaf and the Washington State Cougars with stingy defense and big plays from wide receiver Tai Streets, who finished with four catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns from Michigan quarterback Brian Griese. While Leaf threw for a game-high 331 yards, he was sacked four times and picked off once by none other than Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson.
The greatest Wolverine of all-time and Heisman Trophy winner tallied one interception, four pass break-ups, one tackle-for-loss, one reception, and two rushing attempts.