UM 24 - OSU 12

[1969 Photo Gallery]

1969 OSU game celebration
The sideline Celebration Says It All

"Unbelievable ... fantastic ...the greatest victory in the history of the world."  Michigan fullback Garvie Craw's post-game exclamation may have been a bit of an overstatement, but in the exuberance of the moment it doubtless felt true.  After all, his two touchdown runs had just helped carry Michigan to a stunning 24-12 upset of mighty Ohio State

The Buckeyes came into the game as 17 point favorites, ranked number 1 in the country, riding a 22 game winning streak that included a 50-14 shellacking of Michigan the year before.  Many observers regarded Woody Hayes' 1969 squad, which included five first-team all-Americans, as among the best college teams of all-time.

Michigan, under first-year head coach and former Hayes assistant Bo Schembechler, was ranked 12th in the latest poll on the strength of a 7-2 record. The stakes were high for both teams.  The Buckeyes were seeking their second consecutive Big Ten and national titles and a chance to be listed among the all-time greats.  Michigan could gain a share of the Big Ten title and a measure of revenge for the previous year's humiliation and the rookie coach could prove himself against the master.

Jim Otis scoring
Jim Otis Scoring First OSU td

A record crowd of 103, 588, including 22,000 confident Buckeye rooters, watched Ohio's quarterback Rex Kern ramble for 25 yards on the first play from scrimmage.  In what  looked like it could be the beginning of another Buckeye route, the Kern led option offense methodically moved the ball to the Michigan ten-yard line before the Wolverine defense stiffened. Middle guard Henry Hill stopped Otis on a fourth and one to halt the Ohio drive. After Michigan failed to move the ball, Ohio's Larry Zelina returned the punt  36-yards to the Michigan 16-yard line.  Kern then hit  White for a thirteen-yard gain to the three. Fullback Jim Otis made it into the end zone on his third try.  White missed the extra-point attempt.

Glen Doughty returned the Ohio kick-off 30-yards to the Michigan 45.  Quarterback Don Moorhead got the Wolverine offense going with an 8-yard completion to split end Mike Oldham.  Two passes to Jim Mandich netted 16 yards and John Gabler gained eleven on a counter play.  Moorhead then ran for six yards to the three.  Garvie Craw carried the ball in for the score and Frank Titas converted the kick to give Michigan a 7-6 lead at 11:25 of the first period. It was the first time Ohio had been behind all year.

The Buckeyes came right back, however, and moved 74 yards, largely on the arm of Rex Kern. A pass interference call and a 28-yard completion to White moved the ball to the Michigan 22. Kern and White then connected for the touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.  White made the extra point attempt, but Michigan was called for an offside penalty.  Hayes elected to take the point off the board and go for two.  Left end Mike Keller sacked Kern far behind the line as he attempted to pass. Ohio State led 12-7.  Woody Hayes, roaming the sideline in his trademark short-sleeve shirt despite the cold weather, wouldn't have guessed the Buckeye's were done scoring for the day.

Doughty returned the ensuing kick-off 31 yards to get another Michigan scoring drive started. Moorhead connected  with Billy Harris for nine yards, Gabler ran for seven, and a nine yare completion to Mandich put the ball on the Ohio 33. Tailback Billy Taylor followed with a  28-yard broken-field run to the 6 yard-line - shedding at least three Buckeye tacklers along the way.  Craw gained four yards over the middle and then went off the left-side for his second touchdown. Titas' kick made it 14-12.

Barry Pierson punt return
Barry Pierson's 60 yard punt return

An inspired Michigan defense forced Ohio to punt after three plays.  Barry Pierson fielded the kick and  wove his way 60 yards through the Buckeye defense to the three-yard line before Jankowski brought him down.  Craw gained one yard and then Moorhead faked a pitch wide and dove around right end for the score.  With Titas' kick, Michigan led 21-12 with 4:50 gone in the second period.

Ohio moved the ball to the Michigan 27 on runs of twelve yards by Kern and 25 by Otis, but Kern was thrown for an eleven yard loss on a second down pass attempt. White's try for a 52-yard field goal fell well short.

Michigan had to settle for a field goal on its next drive after an apparent touchdown pass to Mandich was nullified by an illegal procedure call.   Three keepers by Moorhead gained 22 yards. On third and nine at the Ohio 34, Moorhead found Mandich alone at the Buckeye eight.  Going for the score on fourth down  from the three, Moorhead hit Mandich in the end zone, but the penalty wiped it out.  Titas then kicked a field goal from the 25 to end the day's scoring.

In the final 1:25 of the half, Michigan's all-American safety Tom Curtis out-intercepted Ohio State's future all-American Mike Sensibaugh,  2-1.  Curtis returned his first pick 26 yards  to set an NCAA career record of 431 yards. He nabbed a Kern bomb in the end zone for his 25th career pick, a Big Ten record.

Michigan's strategy was to contain the Ohio State running game and force Kern to pass. In Schembechler's words, "We knew (Jim) Otis would get his yardage, but we knew we had to stop Kern."  Defensive ends Cecil Pryor and Mike Keller kept Kern from making big gains to the outside and when he and his fourth quarter replacement, Ron Maciejowski, were forced to pass, Michigan's defensive backs had a field day.  Barry Pierson intercepted three passes, Tom Curtis  two and Thom Darden one.

The second half was a defensive struggle.  Ohio mounted several scoring threats, but, as Schembechler noted, "great plays on defense saved us in the second half."  Though the games statistics ended up fairly even,  there was no doubt that Michigan dominated the game.  Woody Hayes summarized the outcome succinctly, "We got outplayed and outcoached."