[Ed.  Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis returns with the next round of the Bo Brackets.   You can find background including how the teams were selected here, and a breakdown of the Schembechler 16 results here and the Elite 8 here.]


Oosterbaan Region Champion – 1973 vs.
Yost Region Champion – 1976

Everybody expected this game to be a George Patton-like ground assault, but it didn’t start out that way.  On the first play from scrimmage, 1976 sophomore QB Rick Leach called an audible and hit a wide open Curt Stephenson for a 76-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring.   Just as surprising was how the 1973 UM squad responded. Dennis Franklin completed three straight passes to Paul Seal, Gil Chapman and Clint Haslerig to set up All-American Mike Lantry’s 33-yard field goal, and that’s how the first quarter ended, 7-3 in favor of Bo’s 1976 group.

The second quarter featured more of what everyone was expecting to see – three yards and a cloud of dust. When the dust settled, Ed Shuttlesworth and Rob Lytle traded touchdowns in between another Lantry field goal.   As Bo’s two best teams from the ’70s went into the locker room at halftime, the 1976 contingent was clinging to a one point lead, 14-13.

clip_image002In the third quarter, Leach overthrew a wide open Jim Smith and Dave Brown returned it 40 yards to set up Chuck Heater’s 1-yard touchdown plunge and for the first time the 1973 team had the lead, 20-14.  After that errant Leach pass, offensive coordinator Chuck Stobart put the passing playbook away and the ’76 squad went back to what it did best – run the ball.  They responded with an 80-yard drive capped by Russell Davis’s 3-yard touchdown run, and after three quarters, the ’76 team was back on top, 21-20.

Late in the 4th quarter, a combination of Franklin passes and Shuttlesworth runs got the ’73 team down to the 12-yard line of ’76 UM, but the drive stalled when Franklin’s pass for Seal was broken up by Dwight Hicks. With just over five minutes to play in the game, Lantry came in to kick his third field of the game to give Bo’s ’73 team a 23-21 lead.   Recognizing this might be their last possession, the ’76 squad methodically moved down the field milking the clock, not wanting to give their opponent another opportunity to score.  And that’s exactly what they did as they set up Bobby Wood for a 30-yard field goal attempt with two seconds left on the clock.

As the ball was snapped back to Jerry Zuver the capacity Michigan Stadium crowd rose to its feet. Wood’s kick sailed high and end over end. It was headed right down the middle until the swirling wind veered the ball to the left. It struck the left upright, caromed off the crossbar and bounced back onto the playing field…NO GOOD!

The ’73 sideline erupted in euphoric jubilation!

Bo’s only undefeated team remained that way one more time and would carry the honor of Bo’s best team of the 70’s into the championship game.   As they awaited the outcome of the winner of the 80s bracket co-captain Dave Gallagher summed up his teammates’ feeling best, “We don’t care who we play. We’re #1 man! We’ll play whoever, where ever – period!”

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Crisler Region Champion – 1980 vs.
Kipke Region Champion – 1985

If you liked defense, this was the game for you to watch as coordinators Bill McCartney and Gary Moeller went deep into their play books to gameplan against Bo’s top two teams from the 1980s.  Naturally, both teams wanted to establish the run first, but the 1980 offense tried it with a new wrinkle – they came out in the wishbone.  They had a stable of great running backs and figured the best way to get Butch Woolfolk, Lawrence Ricks and Stanley Edwards touches was to play them all at once.

On their first drive QB John Wangler was masterful with his backfield ball-handling. He mixed up his fakes and gives with Woolfolk, Ricks and Edwards so well that the 1985 defense was over-pursuing the ball. The drive ended with Wangler walking into the endzone on a 3-yard QB bootleg that had the entire ’85 defense chasing Woolfolk going the other way.

Down 7-0, the 1985 offense took the field as QB Jim Harbaugh used short passes to TE Eric Kattus and running backs Gerald White and Jamie Morris to matriculate down the field. Facing a 4th and goal at ’80 UM 1-yard line, Harbaugh and company came out in a wishbone formation of their own. Running the option, Harbaugh kept the ball himself and dove into the endzone to score. Mike Gillette’s extra point tied the game at 7-7.

In the second quarter, the defenses took over. Brad Cochran intercepted a Wangler pass to set up a Pat Moons 25-yard field goal. Morris then fumbled when he was hit hard by LB Andy Canavino. Paul Girgash recovered at the ’85 UM 21-yard line and four plays later Ali Haji-Shiekh kicked a 32-yard field goal on the last play of the first half.  The capacity Michigan Stadium crowd roared their approval as the two best Michigan teams of the 1980’s went into the locker room at the half tied, 10-10.

To start the 2nd half, Harbaugh tried to stretch out the defense and open things up a bit. Long passes intended for John Kolesar and Paul Jokisch fell incomplete as Marion Body and Brian Carpenter made consecutive pass break-ups. On 3rd down, White gained absolutely nothing on a draw play as he was introduced to Mel Owens and Mike Trgovac of the ’80 UM defense.

clip_image003When Monte Robbins punted on 4th down, Anthony Carter decided to show the ’85 team what the “special” in Special Teams really meant. He fielded the punt at his own 17-yard line and cut up the right sideline. As the ’85 team tried to angle Carter out of bounds, he cut through the wall of blockers to his left and outran everybody up the middle of the field for an 83-yard touchdown.
Michigan Stadium was rocking and the ’85 team was clearly shocked at what just happened.  While the next two drives for the ’85 squad looked much like a Broadway Chorus-line, (1-2-3-kick, 1-2-3-kick), the ’80 offense faced similar struggles when they had the ball.

Wangler tried to get the ball more to Carter but Cochran and Tony Gant were bracketing AC like he had never been covered before. Not wanting to throw an interception, Wangler went back to the ground game, but the ’85 defense was waiting. They made their halftime adjustments and stayed at home instead of over-pursuing.  When the 3rd quarter ended, Bo’s 1980 team held a slim 17-10 advantage.

Midway through the 4th quarter Morris broke free on a draw play for 52 yards but was caught from behind by Tony Jackson at the 1980 UM 21-yard line. The drive stalled and Moons came in to kick a 33-yard field goal.  Clinging to a slim 17-13 lead with just over six minutes to play, the 1980 Offense needed a few first downs and another score to put this game away. They were able to milk the clock down to just over a minute, but Haji-Shiekh missed a 30-yard field goal and the ’85 team still had a chance.

Four straight pass completions by Harbaugh got the ball to the ’80 UM 37-yard line with four seconds remaining. When the nation’s most efficient passer called his team’s last timeout, every player on the ’85 squad knew that a Hail Mary pass was their only hope.
Kolesar, Jokisch, and Gilvanni Johnson all lined up to the right. Kattus was the tight end and Morris was in the backfield.

As Harbaugh took the snap all the receivers raced to the endzone. Jim threw the ball as far and as high as he could. Johnson got his hands on the pass in the endzone, but Keith Bostic stripped him of the ball as he was coming down with it. The pigskin deflected off several bodies and it looked like Jokisch miraculously came up with ball! An official was right there however and waved off the catch as the ball hit the turf just before Jokisch scooped it up.

The game was over and the 1980 UM squad had eked out a nail-biting 17-13 victory.  They were Bo’s best team of the ’80s and would now square off against the ’73 squad to determine Bo’s Best Team ever.

the Bo Brackets4

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Who Do you Like in the Bo Brackets Final?

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  1. I’d agree with ’73 topping ’76; not so sure that ’80 beats ’85. ’85 had a monster defense, but ’80 had Anthony Carter, one of the greatest game breakers in school history. All of this leads to the next question: Who wins the final?

    ’80 will definitely unleash Carter, who was the first player Bo really trusted enough to use that lightning-strike approach. ’73 had the vastly under-utilized Paul Seal, who would have been an incredible mismatch for any defense back then (even into the ’80s), given that few defenses face 6-foot-6 tight ends who had great hands, speed, agility, tackle-breaking abilty…can you tell Seal was one of my all all-time faves? And how much would Bo allow Dennis Franklin to really utilize all his weapons on offense? (A sticking point for me over the years. If Bo lets Dennis open up the offense, M wins the ’73 national title with a perfect season and a Rose Bowl win.)

    Ultimately, I get the feeling the outcome might come down to the foot of Mike Lantry, maybe even from midfield.

  2. Wow….While I can buy and sort of believe the 1973 victory over the 1976 squad, I have to say that the 1980 victory over the 1985 squad came as a bit of a surprise to this fan. Yes, I know all about that 1980 defense….But the 1985 squad had all sorts of weapons and they didn’t lose 2 games!!!

    That must be the proverbial 9 out of 10 times the ’85 team would win and this was the other game!

    The MMQ

  3. Believe me, I waffled over these Final Four results several times before I came to conclusion that what I was trying to do was accentuate the strengths and weaknesses for each team.
    For the 1976 team, their strength was their ground game and run defense. Weakness was the lack of a clutch kicker and pass defense.
    While Lantry had his misses in ’73, don’t forget that he was an All-American kicker that year. The ’73 offense was a little more balanced than the ’76 unit was. Defenses could be called a wash in this game.
    The 1985 team was as close to having everything you could ask for in a champion – versatile offense, stingy defense, and solid special teams. While they had Kolesar as their outside threat, he was only used/unleashed for the 2nd half of the season.
    The same could be said for the 1980 team – solid offense, great defense, solid special teams.
    The difference, in my opinion, and this is why I think Bo finally won his first Rose Bowl, was Anthony Carter. His presence and playmaking ability really gave the ’80 offense and special teams something the ’85 unit didn’t have.
    What it comes down to is that I think these were Bo’s four best teams.
    Not surprising that the ’70s teams were option oriented and the ’80’s teams were more versatile and pro-style oriented on offense.
    Did the light finally go off in Bo’s head that, as much as he loved the option offense, it wouldn’t get him over the hump out West?