I am starting another historical series that is just Michigan specific because I have this useless knowledge and I want to try to put it to use. We begin this week by taking a look at the top five Michigan home openers. Just to be clear this is that I remember. Seeing as the first season of Michigan football I remember is 1991 means you are only getting games and players from there on out. No Schembechler stuff unfortunately. On with the rankings…
5) 2004: Michigan 43 Miami (OH) 10
Lowdown: You are probably wondering what on earth this game is doing here but let me explain. This was my first game as a freshman at Michigan so it holds a special place in my heart. I am still paying student loans for these memories so I am going to make them count.
Highlights: For the 2nd time ever Michigan started a true frosh at QB in Chad Henne. The game started slow but Michigan finished with a flourish of Braylon TDs and a pick six by Ernest Shazor.
Other notes: Roethlisberger had graduated the year prior but was still on the sidelines watching his former team. What a strange journey its been with you since Benjamin. (Also I think I drunk dialed my Dad and left him some garbled message about Henne starting. O to be young again.) David Underwood was also the starting RB, this is fun.
4) 2010: Michigan 30 UConn 10
Lowdown: A happy Rich Rod moment which is rare. This kicked off year three of his tenure and a lot of people expected doom and despair. That would come later on in the year but not before he unleashed Denard.
Highlights: Denard, Denard and more Denard. We had heard whispers all offseason of his wizardry and it was on full display against a UConn team that had no idea what was going to hit it. It was a glorious opening to a rather bitter end of RR.
Other notes: Brock Mealer walking at the beginning was awesome and this was the “rededication” of Michigan Stadium after all of the renovations. The party went off rather well I would say.
3) 1997: Michigan 27 Colorado 3
Lowdown: Have I brought this up before? Michigan was coming into Lloyd’s third year without much publicity. Colorado was actually ranked ahead of Michigan and many expect the Buffalos to win. (Including Corso and that gloriously hideous hat)
Highlights: Poor John Hessler was chased around all afternoon by the Michigan defense. The defense was insane and picked off the guy four times. They would set the tone for Michigan’s title run that year. Eleven year old Michael was hoping around the living room having the time of his life.
Other notes: This is the latest season opener I can remember as Michigan didn’t start the season until September 13th. I have no idea what I would do with myself if Michigan started two weeks later.
2) 2002 Michigan 31 Washington 29
Lowdown: Each team came into the season ranked in the top 15 and a win would be a big statement for either team. Michigan was also trying to avenge a loss the previous year out at Husky Stadium. (Going to the West Coast does not end well for Michigan often.)
Highlights: Michigan jumped out to a 14-0 leads behind a huge Chris Perry run and a bomb to Braylon. Each team struggled with field goals and Phillip Brabbs missed kick after kick. Washington was led by Cody Pickett he brought them back into the lead. From there the teams traded points until Brabbs made his epic kick to walk off a winner 31-29.
Other Notes: Marlin Jackson showed off his over skills blanketing Reggie Williams all day and had his coming out party as an elite DB. After the win 16 year old Michael partied all night at my Aunt’s wedding. My Uncles were more than happy to entertain themselves and feed me drinks.
1) 1995 Michigan 18 Virginia 17
Lowdown: This was Lloyd Carr’s first game as head coach at Michigan. Gary Moller had been fired in the offseason for a drinking incident (I have yet to be fired for this somehow) Lloyd had the interim tag at the time so no one was sure how long he would be the coach. Virginia was no joke at this time as the Barber brothers had them ranked in the top 20.
Highlights: For the first three quarters for Michigan there were none. Michigan was down 17-0 and looked doomed to open up the Carr era 0-1. In the 4th quarter however Michigan got some momentum from some big Mercury Hayes catches and was able to cut the lead to 17-12. Scott Driesbach led a last second drive that was capped by a Hayes TD catch as time expired. Everyone went crazy.
Other Notes: At the time that was the biggest comeback in Michigan football history. Years later Lloyd mentioned how he wasn’t sure how things would have turned out for him had he lost that game. I guess we will never know but it was one of his many victories as coach.
I hope you enjoyed this segment and I plan on incorporating my favorite wins over opponents and top players at certain positions in the future.
Next week: My favorite victories over Notre Dame