UM 31 - - OSU 23
Columbus, Nov. 25, 1995

The Michigan Daily, Nov. 27, 1996

Biakabutuka's 313 yards ruin Ohio State's title hopes

By Ryan White

At some point during Saturday's Michigan-Ohio State contest, somebody should have told Tshimanga Biakabutuka that he wasn't supposed to be the dominant runner in the game.

It most likely wouldn't have mattered though. Biakabutuka probably would have just shrugged and broken off another 20-yard run.

The Wolverine tailback powered his way to a monstrous 313 yards and a touchdown, and led Michigan to a 31-23 upset over the No. 2 Buckeyes in front of 106,288 at Michigan Stadium.

The win ended Ohio State's national championship hopes and gave Northwestern the outright Big Ten championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. It also earned Michigan (5-3 Big Ten, 9-3 overall) a trip to the Alamo Bowl Dec. 29 in San Antonio, Texas.

It was Biakabutuka's best performance in a Michigan uniform, and it overshadowed a 105-yard, one touchdown game by Ohio State's highly touted Heisman Trophy hopeful, Eddie George.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said that Biakabutuka told him last week that Biakabutuka wanted to prove that he was the best back in the league, but Biakabutuka gave much of the credit for doing it to his offensive line. "I've been playing football for six years and even in high school I never saw holes that big," he said. "Anybody here could have run through those holes and gained all those yards."

It was what happened after Biakabutuka got through those holes that most bothered Ohio State coach John Cooper, who lost for the sixth time in eight tries against Michigan.

"We didn't wrap up," Cooper said., "Time and time again we had guys there to make the tackle, but we didn't wrap up."

Buckeye strong safety Rob Kelley bitterly agreed with his coach.

"We didn't tackle. I didn't tackle," Kelley said. "I'm sorry for the seniors, I'm sorry for the fans. I apologize. It was a disgrace out there today."

But for all of Biakabutuk's heroics, Ohio State (7-1, 11-1) still had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.

Michigan's defense had been called on to make game-saving stops against both Michigan State and Penn State. Each time the Wolverines fell short and lost the game.

Saturday, however, would be different.

After a Michigan punt, Ohio State took the ball at its own 37 with 2:01 left in the fourth and trailing by eight.

Buckeye quarterback Bobby Hoying moved his team down to the Michigan 34 with 1:14 left. Hoying spiked the ball on first down and threw two straight incompletions to set up a fourth-and-10.

On fourth down, Hoying looked over the middle for his top receiver, Terry Glenn. The play was broken up, though when Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson out-jumped Glenn and returned the interception 23 yards to the 36-yard line.

It was the second of two big interceptions for Woodson on the game. The first came at the beginning of the third quarter.

Hoying dropped back on the first play from scrimmage of the second half and tossed a pass to the left sideline intended for Glenn, and Woodson made the interception.

"The turning point as far as I was concerned was that first pass of the second half," Cooper said. "(The Wolverines) were in a two-deep zone, and the pass should have gone to the tight end in the middle of the field."

Biakabutuka carried the ball six straight times after that interception and the drive ended on a two-yard touchdown drive by Michigan quarterback Brian Griese. The score put the Wolverines up 17-9.

Earlier in the week, Glenn challenged Woodson, who is a true freshman. Glenn had also said that Michigan was "nobody."

"I thought I played a pretty good game," Woodson said. "Not to take anything away from Terry Glenn, but he talked a little too much earlier this week, and I don't know what he was thinking."

The 10-0 team Ohio State brought to Ann Arbor was considered much better than the 9-0-1 team that lost to the Wolverines, 28-0, in Michigan Stadium in 1993.

The Buckeyes' power seemed to faze everyone but Michigan. The Wolverines controlled the game in the trenches, dominating the offensive and defensive lines, and had momentum for most of the game.

Michigan ran up 381 yards rushing while holding the Buckeyes to just 106. Overall, Michigan had 484 yards total offense to Ohio State's 392.

"I'm tremendously disappointed," Cooper said after the game. "I don't know if I've ever been as disappointed as I am right now."

It was Michigan coach Lloyd Carr's first Wolverine-Buckeye game as head coach. In the locker room after the game, Michigan wouldn't let Carr down from his podium and the team forced him to lead them in the Victors. It is an honor usually reserved for the captains.

"It has been a long season, but I can't think of a better way to end it than the way these kids did this afternoon," a choked up Carr said. "It was a tremendous effort by an unbelievable group of kids."

Michigan trailed only once in the game, after a 37-yard field goad by Ohio State's Josh Jackson with 7:39 left in the first quarter.

The Wolverines answered on their next possession, though. After runs of 16 and 44 yards, from Biakabutuka, Griese hit tailback Clarence Williams with a two-yard touchdown pass in the front-right corner of the endzone.

Michigan held onto the lead the rest of the game, but not without the help of the defense.

Ohio State again drove deep into Michigan territory and had a first-and-goal at the four-yard line.

Buckeye tailback Pepe Pearson was stuffed for a six-yard loss by Will Carr on first down. Wide receiver Rickey Dudley picked up five yards on a second-down screen pass. Michigan then got a huge play from Carr on third down as he tripped up George behind the line of scrimmage, and Ohio State had to settle for another Jackson field goal.

The two teams traded field goals, a 38-yarder by Michigan's Remy Hamilton, and a 37-yarder by Jackson with six seconds left in the half, and the Wolverines were up 10-9 at halftime.

Down 17-9 in the third quarter, Ohio State got a one-yard touchdown dive by George, but did not convert on the two-point play.

Michigan again put points right back on the board when Williams sliced through the Buckeye defense from eight yards out to put Michigan up 24-15.

A two-yard touchdown run by Biakabutuka with 7:55 left in the game would give the Wolverines all the cushion they would need at 31-15.

Ohio State got to within eight points on a 19 yard touchdown pass from Hoying to Buster Tillman, and a two point conversion, with 6:33 left in the game, but that was as close as the Buckeyes would get.

Wolverine co-captain Jarrett Irons said Michigan knew it wasn't given much of a chance to win, but it didn't matter.

"A lot of the nation didn't believe we could win this game," he said. "So we decided we were just going to believe in ourselves."

For Biakabutuka, the biggest thrill wasn't the rushing yards, but the win.

"I thought the Notre Dame game two years ago was the greatest win I'd ever been part of, but this is the best," Biakabutuka said. "Ohio State was ranked No. 2 in the nation, people were saying Michigan wasn't Michigan anymore, and we proved them wrong."

 

Scores by quarters:
Michigan73714 31
Ohio3668 23