One /undred seven years of editoriil feedom
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MICHIGAN 20, OHIO STATE 14
Charles Woodson's grin stretched longer than
sual, even for the confident All-American. It
eemed to extend from end zone to end zone at
And in the middle of Woodson's mouth was a
weet symbol of perfection - a rose.
"It just doesn't get any better than this,' said
oodson, sporting a fresh, bright-white "1997
ig Ten Champions" cap.
stately was the rose, yet so simple was the
Michigan's 20-14 victory over Ohio State on
aturday concluded the Wolverines' first perfect
eason in 26 years and sent them to the Rose Bowl
or the first time since the 1992 season.
A year of dreams culminated in a day of magic,
hich so drained the Wolverines physically and
motionally that some could hardly muster the
nergy to describe it.
"I'm still emotionally out of it," junior safety
Mcus Ray said. "This is my dream: to go unde-
beat Ohio State at home and go to the Rose
owl. That's why I came here and that's why my
eammates came here."
Since first setting foot on Michigan Stadium
rf, each Wolverine had waited for this moment.
o current Michigan player had ever earned a
Rose Bowl berth, making all unsure of what true
uphoria felt like or exactly how to react.
"I came back into the lockerroom and we were
elebrating, and we sang "The Victors," said fifth-
e senior Brian Griese, who almost opted to skip
hu nal year. "I just wanted to go back out on the
field and be back out there one more time, like an
The fans who had lambasted Griese during his
tumultuous career now embraced the quarterback
with similar intensity.
"I just wanted to shake every fan's hand in the
stands. I wasn't able to do that, but I think I got
about 50 percent of them."
Griese played through the pain of losing four
games in each of his four previous seasons, but he
nr gave up hope that this perfect moment
would come to fruition.
His coach also waited patiently. Lloyd Carr sur-
vived both good and tough times as an assistant
for 19 seasons. And when he finally became a
head coach in 1995, he ignored criticism and pres-
sure, looking instead to the day when he could call
his team the best in the land.
"For us, it's truly a dream season," Carr said.
"When you can line up and play hard for 11 straight
weeks against the caliber of competition that we've
fbi- and never play when you didn't play hard
-fat's the thing I'm most proud of."
Michigan played hardest in its most important
game. Sure, there had been rivals such as
Michigan State and talented, intimidating oppo-
nents such as Penn State. But no team presented a
complete test quite like Ohio State, making victo-
ry over the Wolverines' arch-rivals an appropriate
finish to a season full of challenges.
"This is a big rivalry just like Michigan-
Michigan State," Ray said. "The only difference in
t game is that Michigan-Michigan State is like
aeighborhood street fight and this is like world
Now that Michigan has won that war, it can
stand on top of the world and smell the roses -
the scent of perfection.
"It's lonely at the top," said senior co-captain
Eric Mayes, who was injured in the fourth game
of the season and had to sit out the last seven
games. "It's lonely at the top."
Teammates hoist injured senior co-captain Eric Mayes above the crowd following Michigan's Rose Bowl-clinching victory over Ohio State on Saturday.
b Charles Woodson
Fans storm field, streets in celebration
An estimated 8,000 fans
rush onto turf; thousands
more crowd South University
"I've been waiting 21 years to do this and it
feels great," said Education senior Dave
Hebert. "Oh, my God, it feels great. It's like
I've been reborn as a Michigan fan."
Whn th. am rink r achd m _ha-
alike as they stayed on the field for nearly an
hour after Michigan's triumph. Others took
pieces of the actual field as a souvenir, digging
up chunks-of the turf to save for posterity.
"I ont nd from the SO-yard line. two nairs of
_ _ - ..U IL~W7J