Michigan quarterbacks' record vs. OSU
The 2007 season will be the fourth and final season of a stellar college career for quarterback Chad Henne. He has started every game (37) the Wolverines have played since he arrived on campus in 2004 and he is set this season to break most of the all-time Michigan passing records. However, during his three years as starting quarterback, the Wolverines are 0-3 versus the Ohio State Buckeyes in their regular season-ending showdown. Although Henne has arguably performed rather well in these games, he is often singled out as the player who has never beaten the Buckeyes. The November 17th game in The Big House will be Henne's last opportunity to score a victory over the rival Buckeyes before he graduates. Although the Wolverines win as a team and lose as a team, a Michigan quarterback's legacy is often significantly impacted by Michigan's won/loss record vs. Ohio State during his tenure as starting quarterback. Following is a look at the legacies of some of Michigan's modern-era quarterbacks (1969-present) and how they each fared in their respective battles against the Buckeyes:
Dennis Franklin (1972-1974)
Michigan compiled an outstanding 30-2-1 record during Dennis Franklin's three-year tenure as the Wolverines' starting quarterback from 1972-1974. The problem was that the two losses and the tie during that era all came at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes. As a consequence of the two season-ending road losses (1972 and 1974) and the home game that ended in a tie versus the rival Buckeyes (1973), the Wolverines did not advance to a bowl game in any of the three seasons despite the fact that Michigan was co-Big Ten Conference Champions each of those years. It was not until 1975 that the Big Ten modified its Rose Bowl-only policy. Consequently, Dennis Franklin never played in a bowl game despite leading Michigan to three co-Big 10 titles. At the time Franklin played, it was still the Rose Bowl or nothing and to advance to the Rose Bowl, Michigan had to beat Ohio State. Unfortunately, Michigan came up just short each year in three classic contests.
In 1972, Dennis Franklin led his #3 ranked Wolverines (10-0) down to Columbus, Ohio for a battle with the #9 ranked Buckeyes (8-1) with the winner going to the 1973 Rose Bowl game. Franklin, who had not thrown more than 15 passes in a game all season, completed 13 of 23 passes for 160 yards. He also rushed for 30 yards. Michigan fell behind 14-3 in the third quarter when Buckeyes' freshman RB Archie Griffin ripped off a 30-yard touchdown run. Franklin led the Wolverines back and fullback Ed Shuttlesworth scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down to make the score 14-9 in favor of OSU. Coach Schembechler decided to go for the two-point conversion and QB Dennis Franklin found Clint Haslerig with a pass to cut the Buckeyes' lead to 14-11. Wolfman Randy Logan intercepted a pass late in the game and gave Michigan a chance to score the tying or go-ahead points. On third-and-goal from the one it appeared that tailback Harry Banks scored but the officials ruled that the ball had not crossed the goal line. On fourth down, Coach Schembechler had to make one of the biggest decisions of his coaching career. He had to decide whether to go for the tie and kick the field goal (that might send Michigan to the Rose Bowl) or go for the win with the touchdown (that WOULD send Michigan to the Rose Bowl---IF they scored!). Coach Schembechler chose to go for it and he called upon Dennis Franklin to be the ball carrier. On the fourth down play, Franklin valiantly attempted the quarterback sneak but the Buckeye defense held and Michigan lost 14-11.
In 1973, the Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0) were ranked #1 in the nation when they traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to take on the #4 ranked Wolverines (10-0) before a then-NCAA record crowd of 105,233 at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State raced to an early 10-0 lead by halftime. However, Franklin led the Wolverines back in the fourth quarter. Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin had not thrown double-digit passes in a game all season but on this day he attempted 11 throws (completing seven for 99 yards). In the fourth quarter, the Wolverines scored on a 30-yard field goal by Mike "Super Toe" Lantry and a 10-yard scoring run by Franklin on a fourth down play. With the score tied at 10 late in the game, Franklin had the Wolverines on the move once again as he engineered a drive from Michigan's own 11 to Ohio's 49. That is when Franklin was hit while trying to throw to fullback Ed Shuttlesworth and Franklin landed on his right shoulder and suffered a broken collar bone. Two plays later (with 1:06 remaining), kicker Mike "Super Toe" Lantry attempted a 58-yard field goal aided by a 20-mph wind. Lantry's kick sailed just inches wide of the left goalpost. Michigan got the ball back one more time thanks to an interception by Tom Drake who returned the ball to the Ohio 33. On third down with the ball on the 28, Michigan called timeout with :28 seconds remaining. Michigan kicker Mike "Super Toe" Lantry came on to attempt a 44-yard field goal. If he made it, Michigan would win the Big Ten Championship outright and advance to the Rose Bowl game. Lantry's kick was wide right and Michigan's Rose Bowl dreams were dashed as the game ended in a 10-10 tie. The next day the Big Ten Athletic Directors voted 6-4 to send Ohio State to the 1974 Rose Bowl game. Purportedly, the injury to Franklin was a decisive factor in the Athletic Directors' decision to send OSU over Michigan.
Franklin's senior season of 1974 represented his last opportunity to defeat the Buckeyes. Franklin had led the #3 ranked Wolverines (10-0) to another undefeated record heading into the season-ending showdown with the #4 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1). For the third consecutive year, however, Franklin and the Wolverines could not get past the Buckeyes to get to the Rose Bowl. Franklin (5/14 att., 96 yds., 1 td., 2 ints.) hit Gil Chapman with a 37-yard touchdown pass and Mike Lantry booted a 37-yard field goal to put the Wolverines up 10-0 in the first quarter. However, Ohio State kicker Tom Klaban wound up kicking four field goals to give the Buckeyes a 12-10 lead. Michigan had one final chance to win the game when it set up for a 33-yard field goal attempt with :18 seconds left in the game. Michigan kicker Mike Lantry's kick was ruled "no good" and the miss gave the Buckeyes another victory and meant the Wolverines season was over as the Big Ten's Rose Bowl-only-policy was still in effect.
The loss in 1974 meant that QB Dennis Franklin finished 0-2-1 in his career versus Ohio State and that he never qualified to participate in a bowl game. This legacy should not overshadow the fact that Michigan was 30-0 in non-Ohio State games during his three years as Michigan's starting quarterback from 1972-1974. Franklin had an outstanding career at Michigan and he performed well in each of the three Michigan/Ohio State games in which he played. Nevertheless, because the Wolverines came up short in these classic contests, Franklin is sometimes erroneously remembered as a quarterback who could not win the big one.
Rick Leach (1975-1978)
Quarterback Rick Leach led the Wolverines to a 38-8-2 record, 3 wins over Ohio State, 3 Big Ten Championships, 3 Rose Bowl trips and a berth in an Orange Bowl game. Leach, arguably the most successful Wolverine quarterback of all-time, was 3-1 in Ohio State games. The only loss occurred during his true freshman season of 1975 followed by three consecutive victories over the rival Buckeyes. In 1975, the #4 ranked Wolverines (8-0-2) hosted the #1 ranked Buckeyes (10-0). A touchdown run by Leach put Michigan ahead 14-7 but the Buckeyes rallied and scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to defeat the Wolverines 21-14. Leach then proceeded to lead the Wolverines to three consecutive victories over the Buckeyes starting with the Wolverines 22-0 thrashing of Ohio State in 1976. In 1977, the #4 ranked Buckeyes came to Ann Arbor looking for revenge against the #5 ranked Wolverines (9-1) with a Rose Bowl trip on the line. Leach scored one of Michigan's two touchdown runs as he led the Wolverines to a 14-6 victory. In 1978, Leach took #6 Michigan (9-1) to Columbus, Ohio for his final Michigan/Ohio State game and again a Wolverine victory would put Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Leach, of course, delivered as he led the Wolverines to a 14-3 victory and their third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl.
Leach set the standard for all Wolverine quarterbacks (read Ryan Mallett) to follow when he engineered three consecutive victories over the Buckeyes. His clutch performances in the rivalry games cemented his position in Wolverine lore as one of the greatest players to ever don the Maize and Blue.
Jim Harbaugh (1985-1986)
Quarterback Jim Harbaugh missed the 1984 Michigan/Ohio State game with an injury but he returned to lead the Wolverines to back-to-back victories in 1985(27-17) and 1986(26-24). In 1985, Harbaugh torched the Ohio State secondary as he completed 16 of 19 passes for 230 yards and 3 touchdowns. Famously, Harbaugh guaranteed victory over Ohio State prior to the 1986 game and then he went out and delivered. Harbaugh completed 19 of 29 passes for 261 yards, 0 tds., 2 ints. in leading the Wolverines to the win and a berth in the 1987 Rose Bowl game. Harbaugh's clutch performances against Ohio State secured his place among the elite Michigan quarterbacks of all-time.
Chad Henne (2004-present)
Quarterback Chad Henne is 0-3 versus the Buckeyes and he has one more chapter to write before the book is closed on his story. He wants to avoid having an "0-fer" legacy and the game November 17th against the Buckeyes will also be his final game in Michigan Stadium. Henne is likely to have a big game against Ohio State so he goes out on a high note. In fact, he has played well in each of the previous contests but he and his teammates have nonetheless been on the short end of the score each of the past three seasons. In 2004, Henne was 27/54 for 328 yards, 2 tds, 2 ints. in the losing effort. In 2005, Henne completed 25 of 36 for 223 yds. and 1 touchdown. In 2006, Henne was 21 of 35 for 267 yds. and 2 touchdowns. Although Henne has played well, the team has not found a way to win and that has hurt the perception of Henne's performance. Hopefully, everything will come together on November 17th and Henne can take his place alongside Leach and Harbaugh. Go Blue!
*Note: Photo of Dennis Franklin (9) from Michigan Athletic Department.
*Note 2: Photo of Rick Leach on Sports Illustrated cover of 9-6-76 by Lane Stewart.
*Note 3: Photo of Chad Henne (7) by Ankur Dholakia/The Detroit News from the 11/18/06 M/OSU game.