November 24, 1973 was an interesting day in Michigan Football History because it was Bo’s only tie vs OSU. Yes, this game was the only tie in the Ten-Year War between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes. Let’s take a closer look at that famous game and the 1973 season overall.
Michigan started the season as the 5th ranked team in the country and they didn’t do anything to enlist any doubters. Bo’s Wolverines rolled to a perfect record of 5-0-0 in their first five games. They were winning each game by an average margin of 29-3. The defense shut out three straight opponents. So, Michigan looked like a very difficult team to beat. They even moved up to #4 in the polls.
The Wolverines continued to play excellent football for the next five weeks and ran their record to a perfect 10-0-0. Michigan rolled over every Big Ten opponent and had 7 wins and 0 losses heading into “The Game.” Once again, Michigan and Ohio State would play for the Big Ten Championship.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes were doing just fine. Ohio State also won their first ten games and looked impressive doing it. In fact, the Buckeyes were the top-ranked team in the country on November 24th when they showed up to play the 4th ranked Wolverines.
This was the fifth game in the Bo vs Woody series that would eventually be called “The Ten-Year War.” Yes, these games were intense, very, very intense. So far, both teams had “held serve” since Bo’s arrival in Ann Arbor. Michigan won both games at home (1969 and 1971) while the Buckeyes won both games at Columbus (1970 and 1972). The first two games were not really close, but the last two were both decided by only three points.
It was no surprise that the game was low scoring and hard-hitting. Ohio State had a 10-0 lead at halftime. Then, Michigan stormed back to tie the game late in the final quarter. Michigan actually had two chances to win the game with less than three minutes remaining, but Mike Lantry barely missed two field goal attempts. So, the game ended at 10-10 – making it Bo’s only tie vs OSU.
Of course, everyone thought that Michigan would go to the Rose Bowl because of the “no repeat rule” and because they totally outplayed the #1 Buckeyes in the second half. Prior to the game, Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke decided that the ten conference athletic directors should vote on the Rose Bowl representative even though it was Michigan’s “turn.” Well, you know the “rest of the story” on this one. Ohio State won the nomination, Bo Schembechler suffered through his worst day as a college football coach, and the Wolverines stayed home on January 1, 1974.
The only good that ever came out of this sad day in Big Ten History was that the conference changed their mind about allowing only one team to play in a bowl. Small consolation for what Bo called the “greatest injustice” he had ever been a part of in sports!
Bo wasn’t feeling very appreciated after the “vote,” but he may have cracked a smile about the fact that his undefeated Wolverines actually earned a share of two “mythical” national championships. Yes, the National Championship Foundation and the Poling System both named the Wolverines as co-national champions in 1973. Of course, neither poll is not acknowledged as an authoritarian selection entity, so, they really don’t count!
Here are a couple of other firsts that are associated with the 1973 Michigan Football team and Bo’s only tie vs OSU:
· The Wolverines opened the season against Iowa for the first time in Michigan Football History. (September 15, 1973 at Iowa. Michigan won the game 31-7).
- This was the first, and only, time that a team ever tore down the “Go Blue” banner prior to a Michigan game.
· Once again, this was Bo’s only tie vs OSU in twenty-one years. (Note-the teams would not play to another deadlock (13-13) until 1992 and that was it – no more ties!)
One thing I know for sure about tomorrow’s game against the Buckeye is that there will not be a tie score. Overtime is certainly a possibility, but there will be no tie tomorrow! Hopefully, the officials will call it “even” and let J. T. Barrett actually get first downs instead of giving them to him in a tight spot!
Here are two great video snipets from Dr. Sap that provide some important images from the unforgettable tie in 1973