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November 15, 2013
Time and Change: The Game - 1973
Follow Noon | Givler | Maks | Holleran | AndyMac
In this installment of Time and Change, I have the distinct pleasure of retelling the story one of the greatest games in college football history -- the Ohio State vs. Michigan game of 1973. This year marks the 40th anniversary of that great, yet controversial contest, where the Buckeyes and Wolverines tied, 10-10. Ohio State was then chosen to go to the Rose Bowl in an unprecedented vote by Big Ten athletic directors.
I remember pre-game in the tunnel and I don't think we even thought about it at the time, but even though John Hicks won't admit to it, he led us out and I believe John was the first one to grab the Michigan banner and the rest of the team joined in. It really ticked them off.
The 1973 Ohio State vs. Michigan game was the most intense game of our classic rivalry, at least what I remember of it. In the middle of the third quarter, I had my 'bell rung' and I had staggered into the Michigan huddle. Randy Gradishar led me back to our huddle and I don't remember much after that.
It was one of the greatest playing experiences of my life. It was one we should have won, but we then went out and redeemed ourselves against USC in the Rose Bowl.
It was the greatest game in Ohio State vs. Michigan history. I remember how excited we were to play that game as we ran out of the tunnel and the next thing I knew, the Michigan banner was coming down on top of me. I had nothing to do with pulling it down.
At Michigan, both teams come out of the same tunnel. I remember before the game, Woody said, "Put on your helmets and buckle up those chinstraps because we're going to take on those SOBs right here in the tunnel."
We're down in the tunnel and all the fans are cheering and we see the M-Club guys with the banner out on the field and Woody says, "Go get that (G**damn) thing!" We run out and Hicks jumps up on the thing and all our guys pile on. They didn't really show it on TV, but it turned into a real slugfest.
After 40 years, while trying to go back and find the guys who held the M-Club banner that game, I have not been able to find them.
We never heard about the banner being torn down until after the game, but Hicks still denies it to this day.
After the athletic director vote, and I believe as a result of many of Schembechler's protests, the Big Ten made changes to its bowl selection processes. Among the changes that were made included the abolishment of the archaic "Rose Bowl or No Bowl" rule. This would allow conference teams other than the champion to accept invitations to other bowls. Michigan would be the first team to receive such an invite to the Orange Bowl following the 1975 season.
The Buckeyes proved the Big Ten athletics director's vote was correct when they went on to root Southern Cal, 42-21, in the Rose Bowl.
The tie, 10-10, denied Ohio State the national championship. Alabama vaulted the Buckeyes into the top spot in both polls, and the Crimson Tide finished the regular season, 11-0, to earn the number one ranking in the UPI coach's poll, which did not conduct a post-bowl poll at that time. Notre Dame ended up as AP national champions by defeating Alabama, 24-23, in the Sugar Bowl, leaving the Buckeyes second in both wire-service surveys.
To this day, the aftermath of the 1973 Michigan-Ohio State contest remains one of the biggest controversies in college football history.
Some things will never change.
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