Wednesday, May 24, 2006

1970: The team that history forgot


Everyone remembers Bo's first team in 1969. The 24-12 win over Ohio State that year in Ann Arbor is widely considered to be one of, if not THE, greatest victory in the history of Michigan football. Bo went on to win 5 Big Ten Championships from 1969-1974. The only team that did not win a Big Ten Championship in that span was the 1970 squad. Thus, they are not as celebrated as the other teams of Bo's early years. However, when you look back, you'll see not only that the 1970 team was one of Bo's best squads in his entire 21 years but that they also came close to winning a National Championship. Yet, you rarely hear about them. Until now.

The 1970 team featured Billy Taylor at Halfback, Reggie McKenzie, Dan Dierdorf and Jim Brandstatter on the Offensive Line, Marty Huff at Linbacker, Henry Hill at Middle Guard and Jim Betts and Thom Darden at Safety to name a few. The team blew through their schedule and were 9-0 and ranked #4 in the nation heading into the final game of the season in Columbus against Woody Hayes' #5 ranked Buckeyes. A then stadium-record crowd of 87,331 were at the "Horseshoe" cheering for revenge against the Wolverines for what U of M had done to OSU the year before in A2 in the inaugural Bo/Woody matchup. In 1970, the winner of this game was going to Pasadena as the Big 10 Champion. It was a tough, physical ballgame and the teams were tied 3-3 late in the first half. In the 4th quarter, OSU scored 10 pts. to ultimately pull out a 20-9 victory and end U of M's season at 9-1. The Wolverines finished the year ranked #9 in the AP season ending poll.

The accomplishments of the 1970 team are often overshadowed by the titles won by Bo's other early teams. Nevertheless, the 1970 squad was a great team and should not be forgotten. Even though we did not win the 1970 Ohio State game (and thus don't talk much about it), the game was a classic. It serves as a reminder to me about what a difference a game, or even a half, can make. U-M was SO close to going to the Rose Bowl as an undefeated team and possibly playing for the National Championship. Instead, the 1970 team is hardly recognized for what it achieved. People prefer to reminisce about 1969 or 1971 (which was one of Bo's all-time best teams and will be the subject of another post on a different day) but I don't think fans should forget 1970. That was a great season. Go Blue!

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