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September 10, 1992 - Image 66

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-09-10

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Page 4-The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition-Sports - Thursday, September 10, 1992
FLASHY 'M' FOILED IN TINSEL TOWN
No roses for 8-0 Blue

by Jeff Sheran
Daily Football Writer
Like in the three seasons before,
Michigan won the Big Ten
Championship in 1991. And like in
two of those three seasons, Michigan
played in the Rose Bowl.
But 1991 was remarkably differ-
ent for Michigan. It was a high-
profile season, which saw Michigan
on the cover of Sports Illustrated
twice in three months, and a deadly
quarterback-receiver tandem shatter-
ing NCAA passing records.
Whether America was abuzz
about Heisman Trophy winner
Desmond Howard, or about the
flamboyant Wolverines' Rose Bowl
clash with Washington for the na-
tional title, Michigan was always at
the center of attention in college
football.
The team had its own goals
heading into the season, like aveng-
ing its 1990 losses to Notre Dame,
Iowa, and Michigan State, and re-
turning to the Rose Bowl after
missing out on the New Year's Day
classic that season.
The Wolverines accomplished all
of those goals. In fact, they played
so well that they elevated their ex-
pectations toward goals like winning
a national championship. This they
did not accomplish.
Entering the Rose Bowl,
Michigan's title hopes were legiti-
mate. A victory over Washington
coupled with a Miami loss in the
Orange Bowl meant the Wolverines
would earn, in all probability, the
championship.
Miami thrashed Nebraska in the
Orange Bowl. But that's not why
Michigan lost the title.
The Wolverines (10-2) played
their worst game of the year in
Pasadena, losing 34-14. They fin-
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ished sixth in all three major polls,
and watched 12-0 Washington earn
its share of the championship.
"We lost to as good a football
team as I've ever seen," Michigan
coach Gary Moeller said after the
game. "We're a better team than we
showed, but I can't envision a better
football team than Washington."
It was Michigan's second loss,
both of which came at the hands of
No. 1-ranked teams. At home
against Florida State Sept. 28,
Michigan offered its second-worst
performance of the season, dropping
the much-heralded contest, 51-31.
The Florida State game, which
drew top national billing as a No. 1
vs. No. 3 contest, was a free-for-all
filled with rapidfire scoring, trick
plays, and one-on-one showdowns.
The showdown of the game, per-
haps of the year, was between
Howard and Seminole cornerback
Terrell Buckley - the Heisman
winner against the Thorpe Award
winner.
Buckley struck first, intercepting
an Elvis Grbac screen attempt to
Howard on the game's second play
from scrimmage for a 40-yard
touchdown. Howard retaliated later
in the first half, burning Buckley for
two touchdowns before Michigan
collapsed in the second half.
Part of the reason the loss was so
disappointing for Michigan was that
the Wolverines had played so well
the game before.
That performance, a 24-14 win
over Notre Dame, was the game that
catapulted Michigan into the na-
tional limelight. Not only did the
team avenge losses in the four previ-
ous meetings with the Irish by play-
ing what Notre Dame coach Lou
Holtz called a "perfect" game, but
Howard made the country gasp with
a fourth-quarter, fourth-and-one, 25-
yard horizontal touchdown snag that
secured the victory.
Grbac shined that day, too, com-
pleting 20 of 22 passes, including the
gutsy fourth-down bomb which he
thought he had overthrown.
"After I threw that pass, I was
almost crying," Grbac said. "We
wanted to play our best game, and
that's what we did today."
Michigan's first two Big Ten
matchups in 1991 offered two more
chances for revenge - consecutive
games at Iowa and Michigan State.
Michigan took advantage of both,
beating Iowa, 43-24 and Michigan
State, 45-28. Five games into the
season, the Wolverines had already
beaten its three 1990 nemeses.

The winning continued for a long
time. For the rest of the season, as a
matter of fact. Michigan went 8-0 in
the Big Ten, and rarely even broke a
sweat.
Indiana was Michigan's closest
call. With four minutes left in the
game and the Hoosiers trailing by
eight, Indiana drove to the 1-yard
line, before losing a yard on third
and goal. On fourth and goal from
the two, linebacker Erick Anderson
stuffed fullback Corey Taylor and
preserved the win.
It was neither the first nor the last
big play for Anderson, who each
week made a stronger case in his bid
for the Butkus Award. Howard was
also strengthening his stock in the
Heisman race with games like
Indiana, in which he caught three
touchdown passes.
And each week, the Michigan
team looked more dominant. After
the Indiana game, the Wolverines
recorded a 52-6 rout of Minnesota, a
42-0 shutout of Purdue, and a 59-14
thrashing of Northwestern.
That set up an opportunity to
clinch the conference title at Illinois.
Michigan's defense, which had been
criticized for its vulnerability to the
short pass, faced a tough test against
the Illini and quarterback Jason
Verduzco.
Michigan shut out Illinois, 20-0,
after Marcus Walker picked off
Verduzco in the end zone with min-
utes remaining
"Some things were said that we'd
have to play a perfect game to beat
them," Anderson said, referring to
some inflammatory pregame re-
marks by Verduzco. "I don't think
that's true. I don't think we needed
to play a perfect game. We did
anyway."
Having already clinched the Big
Ten title, Michigan used its next
game to punctuate the season on
both team and individual levels. The
annual hard-nosed clash between the
Wolverines and Ohio State turned
into a showcase for Michigan, which
it won 31-3.
Michigan beat the Buckeyes for
the fourth straight year, and com-
pleted its Big Ten sweep.
Howard returned a punt 93 yards
for a touchdown, after which he
struck his soon-to-be-justified Heis-
man pose.
And Anderson capped his fourth
straight season as Michigan's lead-
ing tackler with 17 stops against the
Buckeyes, which propelled him to
win the Butkus two weeks later.

0

KRISTOFFER GILLETTE/Day
Michigan's Desmond Howard runs after his only catch in the Rose Bowl. Washington defeated the Wolverines, 34-
14, for the Rose Bowl trophy, but Howard had already been awarded the Heisman.
How Sweet It s
Ho ward caps spectacular season withHeisman,

OTBL ::SCHE 0I.LE-M
Oct 17 t niai
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by Theodore Cox
Daily Football Writer
About this time last year, Mich-
igan wide receiver Desmond How-
ard was having trouble convincing a
woman that he was a football
player.
She looked at his 5-foot-9, 176
pound frame and said to him,
"You're just too small. You'd get
killed out there."
By the end of the season - and
23 touchdowns later - Howard
didn't have to convince anyone who
he was, let alone that he was a foot-
ball player. He was Michigan's first
Heisman winner since Tom Harmon
in 1940.
But Howard's stardom didn't
come overnight. After he gained
over 1500 yards during the 1990
season, there was little question
that Howard was onino to bi

In the season's first game,
against Boston College, Michigan
tried to run for several plays. But
the Wolverines' ground attack
couldn't push the ball over the goal
line. So quarterback Elvis Grbac
dropped back and found Howard in
the end zone. He repeated this pat-
tern two more times before the con-
test was over. But Howard's most
spectacular play was a 93-yard kick-
off return to open the second half.
With four touchdowns after just
one game, Howard became a dark-
horse candidate to win the Heisman.
But even the Michigan faithful had
doubts that Howard could shine
consistently enough to be named the
country's best college football
player.
Many of those doubts were
erased during the Michigan-Notre
Dame oame On fourth and one

tory over Notre Dame in five years..
The catch also amazed the nag
tional media. Suddenly, Howard
was the front-runner in the Heismar
Trophy race. He never relinquished
that spot. He made acrobatic catch
after acrobatic catch each week, scor-
ing in every regular-season game.
By the time the Heisman Trophy
winner was to be announced, it was q
lock for Howard, who won by the
highest percentage of votes of ali
time.
At the end of his award-winning
season, Howard was still eligible to
play one more year at Michigan. He
would receive his degree in May and
knew he could earn millions of dol-
lars by leaving to play professional
football. A committed student;
Howard was torn between going orL
to graduate education immediately;
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1987-Best in Ann Arb
1988-Best in Ann Arb
1989-Best in Ann Arb
1990-Best in Ann Arb
1991-Best in Ann Arb
1992-Best in Ann Arb

*Michigan Daily
"Best of Ann Arbor"
readers' polls.

gwv111g 4.43 e11 g.. .4 . 111 .'.V11 I*1.1 451. 1Il., anu postoning urt er stui es untl
Michigan's top receiver in 1991. But Grbac threw the ball 30 yards after his professional career. After a
even the top receiver can have a downfield to the corner of the end month of debating, Howard finall}
tough time gaining exposure with zone. As the ball sailed through the decided in January that he had done"
the conservative Michigan offense. air, most fans thought, "Grbac over- all he could at Michigan and it was
Coach Gary Moeller said he wanted threw it." But Howard put on a time to move on.
to increase the Wolverines' passing burst of speed, stretched out, and In April, the Washington Red-
plays in 1991, but he insisted made a spectacular diving catch in skins selected him fourth in the
Michigan would still be primarily a the back of the end zone. The touch- NFL draft. A week later he gradu
running team. down sealed Michigan's first vic- ated from Michigan.
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