Look, there’s no easy way to work around it. Michigan just has not fared well against hated rival Ohio State in recent history. In fact, the last time the Wolverines had a nice string of success was in the mid to late 1990’s when they won six of eight meetings from 1993-2000.
Among the more impressive victories against OSU, and seasons in Michigan football history, came in 1997 when an undefeated and top-ranked Wolverines team hosted Ohio State in the Big House. A win for the maize and blue locked into the Rose Bowl and a shot to win the national title.
Fast forward to November 22, the final game of the regular season against Ohio State. Up 7-0, Michigan return man Charles Woodson is back to return a punt from Ohio State’s Brent Bartholomew. Woodson then proceeded to pull this out of his bag of tricks.
The 77-yard scamper and score from Woodson put Michigan up 13-0 late in the first half. The Wolverines built up a 20-0 cushion over Ohio State into the third quarter before holding on to win 20-14, improving to 11-0 on the year and completing a perfect 8-0 season in Big Ten play.
Michigan pulled out the win despite less than 200 yards of total offense. Both teams combined for 22 punts in the game. The 77-yard punt return for a touchdown was one of five returns for a total of 97 yards. He also added an interception and three tackles on defense, and one catch for 37 yards on offense.
Woodson in his ’97 senior season took home the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first ever primarily defensive player (and still the only) to win the award and the third ever Michigan player to do so. He accumulated 549 all-purpose yards while adding one sack, eight picks and nine pass preak-ups.
Michigan went on to defeat Washington State 21-16 in the 1998 Rose Bowl Game and finished No. 1 in the AP Poll. However, they ultimately finished with a share of the national title after Nebraska finished atop the USA Today/Coaches Poll, following their dominating 42-17 win over Tennessee in the Orange Bowl.