There have been several great editions of the Michigan Wolverines that have fallen short of winning a national title, and they’ve been recognized by ESPN.
Bill Connelly authored a list of whom he believes are the greatest 50 teams in college football history to come short of winning a national title, and two Wolverines teams have made that list. At the top of the list? The 10-0 Wolverines of 1947, the year that Notre Dame was voted champion by the Associated Press.
“Beano Cook called the 1947 Notre Dame team the most talented team ever, but on the field Michigan appeared to be its equal,” Connelly wrote. “They played three common opponents (Pitt, Northwestern and USC), and while Notre Dame won by a combined 71 points, Michigan won by 146. A midseason hiccup — wins by only 13-6 and 14-7 margins against Minnesota and No. 11 Illinois, respectively — dropped them to No. 2 in the polls behind the Irish, and voters couldn’t take an eventual 49-0 blowout of USC in the Rose Bowl into account. Michigan still claims the title thanks to support from plenty of computer ratings and a nod from the National Championship Foundation, but the Wolverines still qualify for a handsome spot on this list.”
As for the second team, he included the 10-1 1973 Wolverines that missed out on a chance for a Rose Bowl appearances after Big Ten directors elected to send rival Ohio State out west instead.
“Most ADs publicly cited an injury to Michigan QB Dennis Franklin as the major reason for the vote,” Connelly wrote. “UM head coach Bo Schembechler cried conspiracy until his dying day. Regardless, both of these programs were at their outright peak in 1973. In the 20 games that weren’t against each other, they outscored opponents 723-112. That includes OSU’s 42-21 destruction of USC in the Rose Bowl. Michigan probably would have done something similar.”
– – Quotes via Bill Connelly of ESPN Link – –