UM 0 - - OSU 17
Ann Arbor, Nov. 1, 1955
Buckeyes Blast Hopes
First Win at Ann Arbor Since 1937 Costs Michigan Title and Trip
Fielding H. Yost once expressed a philosophy about football that went like this:
"A team is composed of boys, you know, and they do their best, but sometimes it is not as good as the best of another group of boys in another university."
Michigan's Varsity of 1955 carried two shining goals into its climactic battle of November 19 with Ohio State -- an undisputed Conference championship and a westward journey to the Rose Bowl.
Ohio's incentives were equally inspiring -- a second straight Big Ten title and the honor of becoming the first Buckeye team to win in Michigan Stadium since 1937.
Under such circumstances, something and somebody had to give. The Wolverines did their best -- or at least tried as hard as they knew how -- but it wasn't nearly good enough to defeat Ohio on this day.
How good was the Ohio team which ultimately crushed Michigan under a score of 17 to 0?
President Harlan Hatcher, in a brief congratulatory message amid the post-game bedlam in the Buckeye dressing room, saluted the victors face-to-face.
"You are," he said, "the finest team by far to play in Michigan Stadium this year."
Ohio's Coach Woodrow (Woody) Hayes was more sweeping in his jubilant appraisal:
"This is the greatest game Ohio State has ever played for me."
The rivalry between Michigan and Ohio is a wondrous thing in Conference football annals. This was the thirty-ninth year since Michigan rejoined the Big Ten in 1917 and more than half the time one of the two schools has emerged with a Conference championship.
Only three times in the last 26 years have Michigan and Ohio come up to their seasonal finale without one or the other, and frequently both, in contention for the first or second Big Ten berth.
The disappointment felt by Wolverine partisans as dusk fell on November 19 is not unknown to Buckeye fans of other years. Ann Arbor has not been a very pleasant place for Ohio State to visit and Michigan has not been an opponent for Buckeye coaches to pad their victory records.
Until last week's game:
- Only two of all previous Ohio coaches ever won twice in a row over Michigan -- Dr. John W. Wilce, and Francis Schmidt
- Schmidt was the last to lead his team to a win on Ann Arbor soil. Since then the Ohio head coaching roster has been graced by the names of Paul Brown, Carroll Widdoes, Paul Bixler, Wesley Fesler, and Hayes
- Only twice since 1941 had Ohio managed to score a touchdown in the stadium.
Ohio's decisive victory of 1955 put an end to all of those Buckeye frustrations. Hayes-coached teams have now won two in a row from Michigan and his personal count against the Varsity is now three wins and two losses. All three of his triumphs have cost Michigan a Big Ten championship.
The flaming standout of the Buckeyes who did the job out on the Stadium turf was the heralded Howard (Hopalong) Cassady. He was a three-year-old youngster barely out of training pants, when last the Buckeyes beat Michigan in Ann Arbor. Now as a Senior veteran and two-time All-American choice, he has long since earned football renown at Ohio State and a place alongside Red Grange, Tom Harmon, Chic Harley and other Big Ten immortals.
This was Cassady's last collegiate appearance. Despite the dedicated efforts of every last Wolverine to stop him, he made it a great one.
Good as he was, however, Cassady did not overshadow by much the inspired performance of all his teammates. Man for man, and as a team, they achieved a complete physical dominance over the Wolverines.
If there's a better lineman in the country than Ohio's massive James Parker, the Michigan youngsters would doubtless prefer not to meet him. Parker stands 6 feet 3 inches and weighs 248, according to the program and he was a raging terror to the Wolverines.
Along with his interior linemates -- Vargo, Weaver, Machinsky and Guy -- Parker rolled back the desperately-fighting Wolverine line almost at will on offense and resolutely held in check almost every Varsity thrust on defense.
Ohio's attack was crushingly and devastatingly simple. It was directed almost entirely through the guards and tackles. Seldom did the Bucks try to run the flanks and only thrice did they take to the air. The deception came in Ellwood's ball-handling and the faking of the other backs. The hard-hitting Sutherin and Vicic ran almost as well as Cassady through the holes opened by the huge but mobile Ohio forward wall.
Michigan tried unceasingly to stem the steady Buckeye advances with a variety of defensive alignments. They didn't succeed because the Buckeyes were simply too strong physically.
Power and possession were the ingredients with which Ohio formed its triumph. The Buckeyes controlled the ball for 72 rushing plays. Michigan with only 31, had less than half as many.
Absent from the Varsity offensive was the running power which had marked its play against Indiana and the passing touch which had carried Michigan to victory over Iowa. Ohio employed for the most part a very tight 6-2-3 defensive alignment which was, in effect, an 8-man line.
Although Ohio's defense was almost an open invitation to pass, the Wolverines stubbornly refused to believe they could not gain on the ground until the fourth period when they trailed by 9-0. Up to that point, they had failed to put together two first downs in a row but still had thrown only one aerial. Then when Michigan did take to the air in lasts-period desperation, the deception was gone and Ohio's alert defense forestalled serious damage.
At the beginning of the game, there wasn't much to choose between the hard hitting play of the two teams. They battled on near-even terms till early in the second period when suddenly the Buckeye attack fused into a fearsome assault.
Ohio launched a drive from its own 23. Six first downs were clicked off in a row -- only one of which required as much as three plays -- and Michigan was battling deep on its own 10-yard line.
Tom Maentz halted Vicic after a gain of 3 and it was second-and-seven at the 7. Terry Barr, who played another of his magnificent defensive games as the Varsity safety, came up fast to halt Sutherin for no gain, and Ellwood's first pass of the game was thrown out of bounds. That made it fourth-and-seven as the sharply partisan crowd roared in excitement.
Ohio lined up in field goal formation with Kriss back. The Wolverines, burnt by Illinois earlier this year on a fake, were apprehensive as they rushed but found this was no deception. Kriss was the Buckeye kicker and he booted the ball low and to the left. It hit the left upright a foot or so above the crossbar and then angled through for the goal. Ohio led by 3 to 0 with 5 minutes left in the period.
The Buckeyes began the second half in the same forceful fashion. Cassady returned the kickoff from his own end zone to the Ohio 36 and then came another steady, relentless ground march. This one moved to a first down at the Varsity 12. Sutherin, Cassady and Vicic all had a crack at the Michigan defense, but on fourth down the Bucks were still 2 yards short of a first down. Ellwood faded to pass but the ball bounced from his hand when an onrushing Wolverine hit him first. Maentz gathered in the ball and set sail for the goal 92 yards away. He was all alone but an official whistled him down for it was ruled a fumble and the ball had hit the ground.
Michigan took over on its own 8 and promptly pulled out to the 25 on a Barr sweep of right end. This short-lived drive came to a frustrating halt when the Varsity gambled on a fourth-down play at its own 34. Only 1 yard was needed to keep the advance in motion, but Ohio swarmed over Lou Baldacci's plunge and the Bucks took over.
An Ohio fumble forestalled serious consequence and it was still 3 to 0 as the third period neared its close. Michigan fans have watched their team come from behind in the closing minutes other times this fall, but all hopes that this would be another storybook thriller were soon dispelled by the surging Buckeyes.
Cassady returned a Jim VanPelt punt 20 yards to the Ohio 48 and the Bucks had another drive under way as the final period began. Three first downs carried to the Michigan 11. Vicic moved to the 5, Cassady to the 2, and then Cassady to the end zone over right guard. The ball tumbled from Cassady's grasp a split second after he crossed the goal, but the score was properly allowed. Sutherin's attempted conversion was wide to the left, so the score held at 9 to 0.
The Wolverines then turned full-force to the pass. Tony Branoff brought the kickoff back to the Michigan 28. Quarterback Jim Maddock hit twice in a row on aerials to Ron Kramer and Michigan had a first down at midfield. Another Maddock pass was just too far for Kramer at the Ohio 15 and the next -- the Varsity's fourth in a row -- was alertly intercepted by Vicic and returned to Michigan territory.
Remote though it was, this must be counted as Michigan's first and last real offensive threat of the entire afternoon. Later on, the Wolverines did hit Ohio territory but the game was long since lost.
Ohio, however, was not yet finished with its shining hour. Michigan was still fighting as best it could and blunted a Buckeye drive which ground to a halt on downs at the Varsity 13. Moments later the Wolverines were pinned deep in their own territory again. A Maddock to Barr screen pass was complete, but Michael and Vicic hit Barr with a stinging tackle which drove him into the end zone for a safety.
Barely more than two minutes remained and Ohio led by 11 to 0.
From that point onthe exhibition by some of the players of both teams and the actions of some of the fans was a disgrace to intercollegiate football.
Overenthusiastic partisans came tumbling out of the stands to demolish completely the north goal posts before the game had ever finished. Others attacked the south goal posts. Players and officials were pelted with snowballs. One fan assaulted a Michigan player.
The field action was marred by hot words and much disorder. Twelve penalties were called in the final two minutes, with personal fouls called against members of both schools. Later, in the dressing room, players of both teams blamed their opposing antagonists for the initial provocation; all who let their tempers overcome momentarily their codes of sportsmanship regretted it.
In the midst of the shameful melee Ohio scored a meaningless final touchdown. Kramer tried an onside kick after the Buckeye safety, but the boot miscued and Ohio took possession at the Michigan 21. After the officials walked most of the distance, Vicic finally punched over from the 1-yard line. Sutherin's kick was wide to the right and the count was 17-0.
And so ended, on a depressing note, Michigan's football campaign of 1955. On a won-lost basis, it was the Varsity's best season since the unbeaten year of 1948. High spots included Michigan's first victory in history over Army, retention of the coveted Little Brown Jug, the heart-throbbing comeback win over Iowa, and a hard-fought triumph over the team which will represent the Big Ten in Pasadena on January 2.
For the graduating Seniors there now remain only the memories. For those who return next fall there's the feature packed schedule of 1956 which opens with UCLA and Michigan State -- the Rose Bowl foes -- as the first two visitors to Michigan Stadium.
|Kramer (Rotunno) (Rentschler)||LE||Michael (Spears)|
|Orwig (Heynen)||LT||Guy (Stoeckel)|
|R. Hill (Fox)||LG||Parker (Jobko)|
|Bates (Goebel)||C||Vargo (Bond)|
|Meads (Nyren)||RG||Weaver (Thomas)|
|Sigman (Morrow)||RT||Machinsky (Martin)|
|Maentz (Brooks)||RE||Brown (Kriss)|
|Maddock (VanPelt)||QB||Ellwood (Booth)|
|Barr (Pace)||LHB||Cassady (Cannavino)|
|Branoff (Hickey) (Corey)||RHB||Sutherin|
|Baldacci (D. Hill)||FB||Vicic (Trivisonno) (Cisco)|
Scores by quarters:
Touchdowns: Cassady, Vicic
Field goal: Kriss
Safety: Ohio State Officials: Referee, A.T. Skover; Umpire, Corby Davis; Field Judge, Howard Wirtz; Head Linesman, E.C. Curtiss; Backfield Judge, Robert Jones.