A rose for 'U'
MICHIGAN 35, Ohio State 21
From midseason woe,
the Wolverines a-Rose
Michigan senior running back Chris Perry, surrounded by media and fans, proudly holds a rose in the air celebrating a Big Ten title.
Varsity captures Big Ten, smells roses
Full Court Press
November 24, 2003
When the final seconds of the
2003 regular season expired,
John Navarre raised both
arms, the right one clutching the ball,
the left one clenched into a triumphant
fist. And then the place erupted into an
I was in the middle of it, swallowed
by the joyous crowd and swept to the
center of the field. I could barely
breathe, although I'm not sure if it was
because the crowd was smothering me
or just because it was so unforgettable.
For the seniors on the team, who felt
firsthand in October the threat of their
last season slipping away, the feeling
must have been even more special.
"I can't even describe it right now,"
fifth-year cornerback John Shaw said.
"When you come to Michigan, you
just feel like you're going to get (to the
Rose Bowl). And I think about the
class before us that didn't get a chance
to play at the Rose Bowl.
Fans and players, in one exuberant
mass, celebrated the Wolverines' 35-
21 win over Ohio State, Michigan's
sixth straight victory and its biggest
in years. The past disappointments
and the crushing upsets were washed
away by the pure emotion that filled
the Big House.
"What a great, wonderful time it
was during the game," fifth-year tight
end Andy Mignery said. "Words can't
---r- hn T+feel riht now -. To he
out there in our victory formation,
when the last minute was winding
down, and to see all the people react.
Just the emotion the crowd was giv-
ing. It was what Michigan-Ohio State
is all about - the greatest rivalry in
It was a feeling that we almost did-
n't even get a chance to have in Ann
At that midway point, the season
looked like it would be forgotten in its
mediocrity - or worse, remembered
for its demise. The team that had so
soundly beaten Notre Dame and
announced itself as a real national-title
contender had quickly unraveled.
Then, something happened. Staring
down its knockout punch in the Min-
nesota game, Michigan turned it
around right there in the Metrodome.
Since that 31-point fourth quarter, the
Wolverines have been a different team
- focused and determined.
On Saturday, Michigan was the
team we expected this season. The
Wolverines won with big plays from
their big stars and with contributions
from everybody else. They won as a
team. When the Buckeyes were threat-
ening and Michigan desperately need-
ed to answer back, little-known tight
end Tyler Ecker came up with a 30-
During that electric post-game bed-
lam, I eventually ended up in the midst
of a throng of fans that had surrounded
defensive end Larry Stevens, chanting,
"Larry! Larry!" Stevens held upa deli-
cate rose in his giant hand and said.
"This is all that matters. This is all
The missed chances, the losses, the
criticism were all forgotten in one
I looked down and saw a single red
petal lying on the turf, and I picked it
un and nti n mncket
November 24, 2003
By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Editor
Sitting in the visiting lockerroom at
Kinnick Stadium after their 30-27 loss
to Iowa Oct. 4, the Michigan football
team's seniors were in the midst of
some major soul-searching.
The Wolverines were 4-2 and had lost
their chance atla national championship.
With one more loss in their remaining
six games, the seniors would likely
leave Michigan without playing in a
"We never thought we'd be 4-2 at that
point in the season," Michigan fifth-
year senior captain Carl Diggs recalled.
"I never imagined that."
Celebrating their 35-21 win over
Ohio State Saturday on a rose-covered
field with an emotional student body,
the Wolverines were a long way from
their somber lockerroom in Iowa. With
six straight wins, Michigan rewrote the
script of its season, clinching its first
outright Big Ten title and Rose Bowl
berth since 1997.
"It's like a storybook (ending)," sen-
ior tailback Chris Perry said. "It feels
surreal right now, but after I get home
and sit down and think about it, it'll feel
Perry better have gotten some ice
before he sat down. Struggling with
pain in his right hamstring throughout
the 100th meeting between Michigan
and Ohio State, Perry ran for 154 yards
and two scores on 31 carries.
The Buckeyes, previously leading the
country allowing just 50.5 rushing
yards per game, gave up 170 to the
Wolverines. The Michigan line also
gave quarterback John Navarre ample
time to throw, holding the Buckeyes
without a sack.
"It's a great feeling," Michigan offen-
sive tackle Tony Pape said. "That was
the No. 1 defense in the nation. They're
the defending national champions, and
they were a great defense."
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr had to
resort to trickery to get the Wolverines
on the board with 39 seconds left in the
first quarter. To the delight of the
112,118 strong at the Big House (a new
NCAA record), Michigan receiver
Steve Breaston lined up behind center,
and Navarre spread out wide with the
Wolverines facing 3rd-and-goal from
the 3-yard line. Breaston sprinted to his
right and followed the right side of the
line into the endzone, giving Michigan
an all-important 7-0 lead.
Two minutes after Breaston's
score, Navarre hit Edwards on a
slant. Edwards shed safeties Will
Allen and Nate Salley on his way to
a 64-yard touchdown reception.
With less than six minutes left in
the half, quarterback Craig Krenzel
led the Buckeyes on an 81-yard
drive to cut Michigan's lead to 21-7
- the first points given up by the
Michigan defense at home in the
first half all season.
Ohio State, showing the will of a
defending national champion, fought
back with two consecutive scores to
come within 28-21.
Two drives later, Lydell Ross qui-
eted the Big House crowd with a 2-
yard touchdown run to bring Ohio
State within seven.
On the Wolverines' ensuing posses-
sion, Navarre underthrew Edwards, and
Ohio State cornerback Chris Gamble
intercepted the ball at the Ohio State 36.
"We love sudden changes," Michigan
linebacker Scott McClintock said. "We
thrive on it. We like getting on the field
with as much on the line as possible."
With its season on the line, the
Michigan defense held strong, giv-
ing the ball back to the Michigan
offense atits 12. Eight plays and 88
yards later, Michigan took a 35-21
lead on a Perry 15-yard scamper to
the outside with less than eight min-
utes left in the game.
Barring a collapse from Southern
Cal. and Louisiana State, the Wolver-
ines (7-1 Big Ten, 10-2 overall) will
spend New Year's Day in Pasadena,
Calif., playing in the Rose Bowl, affec-
tionately referred to as "the Granddad-
dy of them all."
No matter where the Wolverines
spend New Year's, they can look
back to Iowa.
"I'd be a fool to say it wasn't a
turning point," Perry said. "It
showed how much heart and pride
we had within ourselves."
Fans show off "the claw" as they celebrate Michigan's 35-21 victory over Ohio State.