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December 09, 1991 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-12-09

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Page 6- The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - December 9, 1991

dEMT

Michigan:

A Season in Review

1991
SH AM Pt 0 N

by Matt Rennie
D y Football Writer
chigan 35, Boston College 13
ichigan opened the season a
week earlier than usual, and needed
the first half to wake up from its
summer hibernation. The Eagles
provided the wake-up call by jump-
ing out to a 10-0 lead. After BC
took a 10-7 edge into halftime,
Desmond Howard gave Michigan
the'advantage for good by returning
the opening kickoff of the second
half for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Howard racked up three other
touchdowns on scoring passes from
quarterback Elvis Grbac. His four-
touchdown afternoon prompted
Michigan fans around the nation to
joke, "Geez, this guy is going to win
the Heisman."
Michigan 24, Notre Dame 14
The Wolverines ended a four-
game losing streak to the Fighting
Irish by playing nearly flawless
football. Grbac led the way for the
Wolverines by completing 20 of 22
passes with one touchdown and no
interceptions.
Grbac's most memorable pass
carne on a fourth-and-one play from
the Notre Dame 25 with Michigan
clinging to a 17-14 lead. In a situa-
tion where most coaches would have
kicked the field goal, Michigan
coach Gary Moeller not only went
for it, but went for it all.
Grbac took a short drop, pump
faked to Howard, and then lofted
the ball to the corner of the end
zone. The ball initially appeared
overthrown, but this was before
H6ward had completely informed
the world of his superhuman
abilities; Howard stretched his
body parallel to the ground and
rpscued the ball just before it hit the
grass.
"After I threw that touchdown
pass, I was almost crying," Grbac
said. "We wanted to play our best
game, that's what we did today."
Florida State 51, Michigan 31.
The top-ranked Seminoles' clash
with the No. 3 Wolverines lived up
to; its billing, with both teams scor-
iig in bundles. On Michigan's first
pilay from scrimmage, Florida State
cornerback Terrell Buckley picked
off a Grbac pass intended for

Howard and returned it 40 yards for
a touchdown.
The teams traded scores
throughout the half, and with the
Seminoles ahead, 31-23, near the end
of the first half, the Wolverines
were on the march again. Grbac tried
to loft the ball to tight end Tony
McGee in the end zone, but
linebacker Howard Dinkins picked
it off to preserve Florida State's
eight-point halftime advantage.
The Seminoles took control in
the second half, running the ball
with great success and putting the
clamps on Howard, who had caught
two touchdown passes in the first
half.
"We took momentum, they took
it back, then we took it back and
never lost it," Florida State coach
Bobby Bowden said.
Michigan 43, Iowa 24
The Wolverines opened the Big
Ten season by beating the Hawkeyes
in Iowa City. The game marked the
emergence of tailback Jesse Johnson,
who came into the game as a third-
stringer and rushed for 202 yards
and two touchdowns.
Iowa took an 18-7 lead in the
first half before starting tailback
Ricky Powers' 1-yard plunge made
it 18-13. The Wolverines forced the
Hawkeyes into a fourth-and-10 situ-
ation on their own 46. Iowa coach
Hayden Fry, who later confessed to
being confused about the needed
first-down yardage, called a fake
punt. Michigan stuffed the
Hawkeyes to take control of the
ball in their territory.
Several plays later, Johnson took
a screen pass from Grbac and
sprinted 28 yards into the end zone
to give Michigan a 19-18 halftime
lead. The Wolverines took over in
the second half, with the defense
putting pressure on Iowa quarter-
back Matt Rodgers and Howard
scoring his customary two touch-
downs. Appropriately, Johnson
capped the scoring for Michigan
with his second touchdown of the
game.
"Johnson really kicked us in the
butt today," Iowa defensive end
Leroy Smith said. "He did good. I
wish he didn't come."
Michigan 45, Michigan State 28

Before the season began, Moeller
called this game the most important
of his team's season. Moeller
wanted revenge for last season's 28-
27 loss to the Spartans, which in-
cluded a controversial no-call by the
official on a two-point conversion
play that would have given Michi-
gan the victory.
The Wolverines eliminated the
possibility of controversy this year
by jumping out to an early 21-0 lead.

"Desmond is a great athlete who
does everything," Michigan State
coach George Perles said. "He's
something special"
Michigan 24, Indiana 16
The Hoosiers gave Michigan far
and away its closest game of the
conference season. Led by tailback
Vaughn Dunbar and quarterback
Trent Green, Indiana successfully
moved the ball in the first half,
before the Wolverine defense

three Michigan touchdowns, bring-
ing his season total to 15 and mak-
ing the Heisman talk more than a
whisper.
"That doggone Desmond, he's a
threat," Mallory said. "I'm not say-
ing he's got an 'S' on his chest, but
he's damn close."
Michigan 52, Minnesota 6
This was the first in a series of
three blowouts for Michigan. In an
attempt to better its clutch perfor-
mance vs. Indiana, the Wolverine de-
fense decided at this point in the sea-
son not to allow its opponents to
score. Minnesota did its part by
fumbling the ball on two of its
first three plays from scrimmage.
The Wolverines had a two-touch-
down lead before the game was four
minutes old.
Not surprisingly, Howard led
the offense by catching two touch-
down bombs of 65 and 41 yards
from Grbac. With his second score,
Howard broke the Big Ten record of
14 touchdown receptions, held by
former Wolverine Anthony Carter.
The same play gave Grbac the
Michigan record for career touch-
down passes with 49, formerly held
by Rick Leach.
Howard also received his first
official endorsement: "After the
way Desmond ran away from our
defensive backs tonight, I would
definitely vote for him for the
Heisman," Minnesota coach John
Gutekunst said.
Michigan 42, Purdue 0
Michigan held the Boilermakers
to 188 yards, playing its best pass
defense of the season against Purdue
quarterbacks Eric Hunter and Matt
Pike. Powers paced the Wolverines'
offensive attack with 108 yards and
two touchdowns. Rookie tailback
Tyrone Wheatley also scored twice,
and of course, Howard had a pair of
scoring catches.
Place-kicker J.D. Carlson suc-
cessfully converted all six point-af-
ter attempts to bring his streak to
110, breaking the Big Ten record
formerly held by Indiana kicker
Pete Stoyanovich (108).
Howard's second touchdown
catch, for which he had to reach back
while falling down, made a believer
out of Purdue coach Jim Colletto.
"He's as great in person as he is
on film," Colletto said. "I looked
at that and said, 'Wow, we're out of
our league."'
Michigan 59, Northwestern 14.
Northwestern should have taken
the hint when, on the Wolverines'

first play from scrimmage, Howard
took a screen pass 64 yards for a
touchdown. While the Wildcats
limited Howard to only that score;
they could do nothing to stop the
rest of the Michigan offense.
Michigan rushed for a season-
high 370 yards, led by rookie tai-
back Tyrone Wheatley's nine carries
for 141 yards and two touchdowns
Wheatley put the exclamation mark
on the Wolverines' victory with a
74-yard touchdown jaunt.
"We played a football team tha'
executes with a capital 'E,"'
Northwestern coach Francis Peay
said. "They executed us; we helped
execute ourselves."
Michigan 20, Illinois 0
Michigan clinched a share of the
Big Ten Championship with this
victory over the Illini. While Illi-
nois held the Wolverines to their
lowest point total of the season, the
Michigan defense proved itself by
shutting out the high-powered Illi-
nois offense.
Linebacker Marcus Walker pre-
served the shutout by picking off a
pass from Illini quarterback Jason
Verduzco in the Michigan end zone.
Howard scored both Wolverine
touchdowns, the first on a pass from
Grbac on third and goal from the
Illini one and the second on a 15-
yard reverse with 8:46 left in the
game.
Making the victory that much
sweeter was that Verduzco had ac-
cused the Wolverine defense of not
playing well against the top teams.
"Some things were said thit
we'd have to play a perfect game to
beat them," Anderson said. "I don't
think that's true. I don't think we
needed to play a perfect game. We
did anyway."
Michigan 31, Ohio State 3r
The Wolverines pounded the im-
val Buckeyes to go undefeated in the
Big Ten and win the conference title
outright. Michigan's first touch-
down came one play after Ken Sol-
lom completed a first-down pass to.
Greg McThomas on a fake field
goal. Burnie Legette barrelled.
through the Ohio State line to give,
the Wolverines a 7-0 lead.

Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac audibles at the line in a game this year.
Grbac finished the season as the nation's No. 1-ranked passer.

While Johnson scored another pair
of touchdowns, Powers proved why
he is the starting tailback by rushing
for 148 yards on 28 carries. Michi-
gan took a 38-14 lead before
Moeller used the opportunity to
look at his second- and third-string
players.
Howard again scored two touch-
downs, adding further credibility to
his Heisman campaign.

clamped down.
With less than four minutes left
in the game and his team down by
eight, Green drove the ball down to
the Michigan 1-yard line, where the
Hoosiers had third and goal. Strong
safety Otis Williams dropped Green
for a one-yard loss on third down,
setting up a fourth-and-goal play
with the game hanging in the bal-
ance. Indiana coach Bill Mallory
sent fullback Corey Taylor up the
middle, where he was greeted by
Michigan linebacker Erick Ander-
son, who wrestled Taylor to the
ground and preserved the victory.
Offensively, Howard scored all

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Michigan held Ohio State to 109
yards rushing. Howard put his sig-
nature on the game and his spec-
tacular season with a 93-yard punt
return at the end of the first half.
After the game, Ohio State coach
John Cooper said, "There shouldn't
be any contest for the Heisman."

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