[Ed. The conclusion of the Bo Brackets – a guest post once again by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis!]
To celebrate the conclusion of the Bo Brackets, it was decided that the Championship Game would be played at the Rose Bowl.
The 1973 squad was designated as the home team via coin toss and would wear their home blue jerseys. Conversely, the visiting 1980 M-Men would wear their white, road jerseys for this championship tilt. While both teams were directed by #1000SSS to wear commemorative patches below sewn on to their respective jerseys for this game…there was one slight problem..
…the 1973 team refused to put anything on their classic uniforms. U-M Equipment Manager, Jon Falk, balked at the idea of stitching the patch on the 1973 blues and told the media, “We don’t need a patch on that beautiful uniform. We didn’t wear one for our other bowl games in the ‘70s, so we’re not going to start now. No thank you.”
The 1980 team had a different take on the patch. The same trail-blazing group that convinced Bo to have their names put on the back of their jerseys (see Uniform Timeline – 1979 and 1989 entries) and felt having a patch sewn on was no big deal.
But General Bo wouldn’t be pushed too far. “Sure, I gave in and let them have their names on the jerseys, so having a patch sewn on was no big deal. But when they tried to convince me that the team should wear white shoes, that’s where I drew the line. Absolutely not!” added Bo.
Reserve defensive end Dave Brandon (1973) and back-up defensive back Brad Bates (1980) were selected by their respective teammates to be honorary captains for this game as well as being most-likely-to-become-future-athletic-directors.
After the University of Michigan Alumni Band played the National Anthem and The Victors, both teams were ready for kickoff. The 1980 team won the coin toss and naturally elected to defer.
When Brandon and the 1973 team decided to receive, Dennis Franklin and his offensive teammates couldn’t wait to get their hands on the ball. Ali Haji-Shiekh’s opening kickoff sailed through the end zone and the ’73 team started first and ten from their own 20-yard line. Not surprisingly, the first play of the game was a handoff to fullback Ed Shuttlesworth and he powered up the middle for a gain of 5 yards. Successive option pitches to Chuck Heater and Gil Chapman put the ball on ’73 UM 38-yard line. Now that they had lulled the ’80 defense into over-playing the run, TE Paul Seal’s number was called on a play-action pass. Franklin faked beautifully to Heater and hit Seal down the middle of the field for a 35-yard gain. Just like that the ’73 team was on the move against the great 1980 U-M defense.
Next up was a designed quarterback draw that left the middle of the field wide open for Dennis “The Menace” Franklin. He scampered all the way to the 3-yard line and while the ’73 Wolverines were making it look easy, McCartney’s Monsters were back on their collective heels. But on the very next play, Franklin fumbled the snap and Mike Trgovac recovered for the ’80 squad at their own 2-yard line.
As the 1973 defense took the field, Co-Captain Dave Gallagher felt the momentum swing to the white shirts on the other side of the gridiron. He urged his teammates to stand their ground and force a three-and-out. Don Dufek took his captain’s words to heart as he blitzed from his strong safety position on first down and tackled Butch Woolfolk at the goal line for a two-yard loss. Runs by Stan Edwards and Lawrence Ricks moved the ball out to the 8-yard line, giving the ’80 offense some breathing room to punt.
With freshman punter Don Bracken set to kick from his own end zone, the ’73 Wolverines called for a punt block. Bracken’s quick step and a half delivery beat the charging ’73 defenders as he boomed a high spiral that landed just in front of return man Dave Brown. As he was about to corral the punt, the pigskin bounced over Brown’s head and rolled toward the ’73 end zone. By the time Brown picked up the ball at his own 15-yard line, he was greeted by a sea of white jerseys and was downed on the spot. Bracken’s 76-yard rifle-shot had flipped the field and the momentum changed once again.
The teams exchanged punts on the next two possessions and as the defenses continued to dominate, the first quarter ended with the score tied, 0-0.
To start the second quarter, Wangler completed consecutive passes to tight ends Norm Betts and Craig Dunaway. Looking to put the first points of the game on the scoreboard, Wangler threw deep looking for Anthony Carter, but Brown got his fingertips on the pass just enough to deflect it past the spindly-legged receiver. While Brown let Carter know that he was going to be around all game, AC, still looking for his first reception of the contest, reminded the Brown that #1 was not just a receiver…and the ’73 defensive back would find out the hard way on the very next play.
Realizing the 1980 offense needed a jump start, a flanker reverse was called and finally Carter got his hands on the ball. With nothing but green grass and offensive linemen in front of him, the “Human Torpedo” weaved his way through the 1973 defense for a 54-yard touchdown run. A miscommunication on the ensuing point after try resulted in the snap hitting holder Rich Hewlett in the facemask. The ball was picked up by Haji-Shiekh but he was swarmed over by the ’73 defense and with just over two minutes to play in the half, the 1980 U-M squad was up, 6-0.
Franklin and the ’73 offense took the ensuing kickoff and methodically moved down the field using their last timeout to give Mike Lantry a shot at a 55-yard field goal. “Super Toe” hit it high enough and long enough to finally get the ’73 team on the board and the first half ended, 6-3 in favor of the 1980 Wolverines.
HALFTIME SCORE: 1980 Whites 6, 1973 Blues 3
To start the second half, Ed Muransky and Bubba Paris were determined to impose their collective will on the ’73 defense. The two mammoth tackles wanted to run the ball and that’s just what the ’80 offense did. Runs by Edwards and Ricks moved them into scoring position but a fumble by Woolfolk ended the drive and once again the momentum swung over to the 1973 side. Capitalizing on this break, Franklin ran successive option pitches to Heater to set up the one trick play the ’73 squad had been working on all week.
On third down, Franklin ran another option play and pitched the ball to Heater once again. This time, Heater threw to a wide open Seal and he lumbered in for a 25-yard touchdown. Lantry’s extra point now gave the ’73 team its first lead of the game, 10-6.
Missed field goals by each team kept the score unchanged at the end of three quarters.
With the momentum and lead on their side, the ’73 team’s strategy in the 4th quarter was to use up as much clock as possible and put the game in the hands of their strong defense. The strategy played out exactly how they wanted as the ’80 offense had the ball on their own 30-yard line with just over a minute to play and one timeout. Seventy yards separated the two teams from victory or defeat.
A first down pass to Carter picked up 15 yards. Wangler then connected with Alan Mitchell for 10 yards before he tip-toed the sideline and stepped out of bounds with 30 seconds to go. The ’80 squad was now at the ’73 UM 45-yard line and on the move.
A pass intended for Betts was knocked down by Dufek and on second down, Wangler missed an open Carter across the middle. Facing a 3rd and 10 Bo called his favorite play, 54 Draw, fully expecting the ’73 defense to be keying on Carter.
Sure enough, when Wangler went back and handed off to Woolfolk, the entire middle of the field was wide open. Butch ran and ran until Dave Brown made a shoe-string tackle that brought Woolfolk down at the ’73 UM 4-yard line with just 4 seconds to play. Wangler hurriedly called his last timeout as the Bo Brackets Championship Game would come down to one last play.
With the entire ’80 offense focused on every word Bo said, he barked out the details of the final play of the game. Wangler was to roll out and look for Carter on a quick hitch. If he was covered, Edwards would be the safety valve out of the backfield. If he was covered, Wangler would have to run it in.
On the other side of the field, the ’73 defense was thinking one thing and one thing only – BLITZ! As the teams lined up for the final play, everybody in the Rose Bowl rose to their feet.
Wangler took the snap, rolled to his right, saw that Carter was covered, looked for Edwards but before he could set his feet, Don Dufek came out of nowhere and drove Wangler’s shoulder into the Pasadena turf, but not before Wangler lofted a desperation pass to his fullback.
Edwards reached back for the pass, and as it caromed off his shoulder pads it looked like Dave Brown would make the interception, but he slipped on the Rose Bowl grass and deflected the ball right into the hands of a diving Craig Dunaway.
The 1980 U-M Team had won, 12-10!
They were Bo’s Best and the victory in the Rose Bowl proved it.
EXCLUSIVE: Photos from the big game compliments of SAP: