This week we rolled back 17 years (wow, 17 years!) to November 8, 1997 for one of the most anticipated and hyped-up Saturday’s in recent history. ESPN dubbed it Judgment Day, and the big winner of the whole exercise was your beloved Wolverines who crushed JoePa and the Nittany Lions 34-8:
While I didn’t get to it in the clip, that game featured one of the hardest hits that I’ve ever seen when U-M’s Daydrion Taylor smoked Penn State’s Bob Stephenson. The collision ended the careers of each man.
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Today we shift back 17 years to the glorious season of 1997, Lloyd Carr’s 3rd at the helm in Ann Arbor. On November 8 #4 Michigan was set to face #3 Penn State on the one of the most anticipated and hyped up weekends in college football history.
The Wolverines rolled into Happy Valley a perfect 8-0, having already taken down 3 ranked teams in Colorado, Iowa and Michigan State..but this figured to be Carr’s toughest road test of year. Penn State was also unblemished at 7-0, including a home win over Ohio State a few weeks earlier.
Along with U-M at #4 and the Nittany Lions at #3, on that weekend you also had #2 Florida State squaring off against Mack Brown’s #5 North Carolina. Given the confluence of top 5 teams facing each other, our friends at ESPN dubbed that Saturday as ‘JUDGEMENT DAY!”
If a verdict was to be put down the men in maize and blue wanted to leave no doubt – and on the first play from scrimmage Glenn Steele set the tone back by sacking Penn State’s quarterback Mike McQueary for a 10 yard loss and Michigan never looked back.
After going up 10 nothing in the first quarter thanks to a Craig Baker field goal and a touchdown by the A-Train, Meechigan went on a long 2nd quarter drive highlighted by a 40 yard “dash” down the sideline by our mobility-challenged quarterback Brian Griese. The bizarre sight of Griese’s gallop caused General Bo Schembechler—who was watching the game in the Beaver Stadium press box—to rip off and examine his glasses and as if he couldn’t believe what he just witnessed. The drive was capped off by a 37-yard TD toss to eventual Heisman winner Charles Woodson to put Michigan up 17 zip.
Griese later connected with Jerame Tuman to make it 24-0 at half, and a rout of Biblical Proportions was on. Marcus Ray snuffed any ray of hope JoePa might have summoned out of his boys in the halftime lockerroom with his interception on Penn State’s first possession on the second half.
Michigan went onto a 34-8 blowout, Penn State’s worst home loss in history, and justice was served—the Wolverines moved to #1 in the land and never looked back. Two weeks later Ohio State came to the big House and Griese, Woodson and Ray validated the top ranking with a brilliant 20-16 victory over the Buckeyes in a game affectionately known in this studio as ‘The Boston Massacre”.
As it should, the season concluded in Pasadena where the Wolverines reached the summit. After the 21-16 victory over Washington State an emotional Lloyd Carr summoned his men and told them QUOTE: “You have left a wonderful legacy for every team that ever follows you…you have just won the national championship..”
For more, Checkout MVictors.com and WTKA.com – for the KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff, this is Greg Dooley.