The University of Michigan has long been known to have the winningest football program in the sports' long history. Even so, the Wolverines have certainly had their fair share of defeats along the way.
This list attempts to compile the program's 25 most devastating losses. Some are here because they were games lost at the last second. Others made it on the list because of the sheer dominance the opposing team inflicted upon the Wolverines. All of the choices are solely my opinion. Michigan fans beware. Ohio State fans delight. Everyone enjoy.
Note: Bowl game years indicate the season, not the actual year the game was played.
1. Colorado 27, Michigan 26 (1994): In what is now known as the "Miracle at Michigan," Colorado quarterback Kordell Stewart heaved up an incredible 64-pass to Michael Westbrook at the very last second of the game to edge the Wolverines. My heart still hurts every time I see Kordell's face on ESPN.
2. Michigan State 26, Michigan 24 (2001): During Michigan State's last drive, something happened to the clock, giving the Spartans one more second than they should not have had, allowing QB Jeff Smoker to throw a game-winning pass to T.J. Duckett and win the game. I'm not saying it was flat out cheating, but it was certainly a clock error. So I blame the timekeeper.
3. Mississippi State 52, Michigan 14 (2010): In an already embarrassing 7-6 (3-5 in the Big Ten) season with decisive losses to Michigan State and Ohio State, the Wolverines were blown to bits in the Gator Bowl by a low-rank SEC team.
4. Purdue 9, Michigan 3 (1996): I have absolutely no respect for the skill level of the Purdue football program. The fact that Michigan couldn't manage to score even one touchdown on the Boilermakers still burns me to this day.
5. Alabama 17, Michigan 14 (1994): The Outback Bowl. Everything seemed to be going Michigan's way until Alabama linebacker Dwyane Rudd ran back an 88-yard interception for a touchdown. From there, the Wolverines could not get their moxy back until it was too late.
6. Washington 34, Michigan 14 (1991): It's never easy losing in the Rose Bowl. Getting thoroughly outclassed is an even harder pill to swallow. But that's what happens when you're playing a team that went undefeated in the regular season and shared the national title with Miami.
7. Texas A&M 22, Michigan 20 (1995): The Alamo Bowl. What hurts is that Michigan lost the game offthe foot of Aggies kicker Kyle Bryant, to be exact. He knocked in two late field goals to put the game out of Michigan's reach.
8. Auburn 9, Michigan 7 (1983): The Sugar Bowl. Another game lost because of kicking. The Tigers beat Michigan because they kicked field goals until the clock stopped and the game was over. A very boring, stupid way to lose.
9. Toledo 13, Michigan 10 (2008): I know it was Rich Rodriguez's first year as head coach. I know that Michigan's quarterback situation was in disarray. I realize the Wolverines were coming off a big loss to Illinois (45-20). But there's absolutely no excuse for losing to a team from the MAC. Only teams like Michigan State do that.
10. Michigan State 26, Michigan 20 (2009): The Wolverines were 4-0 heading into Spartan Stadium. It looked like Rich Rodriguez's spread offense was finally showing some promise. Then came overtime, when MSU running back Larry Caper broke free for a 23-yard touchdown run. Do you hear that whizzing sound? It's my balloon deflating.
11. Notre Dame 35, Michigan 17 (2008): By the third quarter, I was sick and tired of the television broadcaster yelling out "Jimmy Clausen to Golden Tate!" and "Boy, that Michigan defense has absolutely no directios right now." It was embarrassing to be a Michigan fan that day.
12. Ohio State 47, Michigan 7 (2008): It was the first game Michigan would play against quarterback Terrelle Pryor, a guy whom Michigan tried desperately (and foolishly, in my opinion) to bring to Ann Arbor. And after getting outhustled in the recruiting season by Jim Tressel, Michigan got bullied and muscled around on the field.
13. Nebraska 32, Michigan 28 (2005): The Alamo Bowl. This time it was against a team from the Big 12 Conference. I can't think of anything I hate more than a late-game meltdown. And with Nebraska scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter, that's exactly what happened and why it's so devastating.
14. USC 32, Michigan 18 (2006): I actually have a lot of respect for the tradition of USC football. I just wished that tradition didn't include thrashing the Wolverines behind the arm of Trojans quarterback John David Booty, who threw for 391 yards and four touchdowns.
15. Oregon 39, Michigan 7 (2007): This was before Oregon was known as the offensive machine and fashion trendsetter that it is today. Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon carved up the Michigan defense with his feet and his arms, amassing 368 yards of offense for his team. It got so bad that Michigan fans booed their own team. Sad times.
16. Minnesota 23, Michigan 20 (2005): Few things are worse than losing on homecoming night against a rival. That's exactly what happened when the Golden Gophers edged the Wolverines for the Little Brown Jug trophy..
17. USC 17, Michigan 10 (1989): In legendary Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler's final game, he called for a faked punt, something that the old-school coach didn't do very often. And it would have worked, too, had the Wolverines not been called for holding. As a result, USC's Ricky Ervins ran in a 14-yard score. Schembechler famously refused media interviews after the game.
18. Notre Dame 28, Michigan 20 (2004): The Wolverine let a Fighting Irish freshman name Darius Walker run all over them for 115 yards. Let me reiterate: The guy was a freshman. It was the epitome of humiliating, as far as I'm concerned.
19. Ohio State 14, Michigan 3 (2007): It was Michigan coach Lloyd Carr's final game. After the debacle with Appalachian State (see No. 25), it would have been nice to send the guy out with a win over the rival Buckeyes. It didn't happen.
20. Notre Dame 24, Michigan 19 (1989): In what would be Bo Schembechler's final season as the Michigan coach, the Wolverines lost their home opener against the Fighting Irish. This was the only game that Michigan would lose during that season until the Rose Bowl against USC. Had it not been for this defeat, Michigan might have been playing for more than just a Rose Bowl berth.
21. Notre Dame 17, Michigan 10 (2005): It was the first game of the rivalry for Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis. Because of his experience coaching the New England Patriots in the NFL, I thought of him as an offensive genius who would outwit Michigan for the next 10 years. That never happened. But he did edge the Wolverines on this day, which hurt me badly.
22. Ohio State 42, Michigan 29 (2006): Legendary head coach Bo Schembechler died a day before the game. Both teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, heading into the matchup. Losing a close game on the day Schembechler died was bad enough. Being beaten out by your rival for a spot in the national title game made it that much worse.
23. Texas 38, Michigan 37 (2004): The Rose Bowl. Letting Longhorns quarterback Vince Young account for 372 yards of total offense and score five touchdowns was bad enough. The fact that the Wolverines again lost the game of the foot of a kicker named Dusty Magnum really sent me into a frenzy.
24. Tennessee 45, Michigan 17 (2001): The Citrus Bowl. Volunteers quarterback Casey Clausen completely demolished Michigan defense for four straight quarters in a game that saw my Wolverines get thoroughly out-muscled and outclassed. In fairness, Tennessee was a really good that season.
25. Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32 (2007): App State represented one of the best teams the football subdivision FCS had to offer. Still, it should have be a blowout win for a Michigan team that was picked by many to win the national title. But App State quarterback Armanti Edwards burned up Michigan's defense in a manner that current Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson does to other teams today.
Stats and other information taken from MGOBLUE.COM and NCAA.com.
Aaron David Harris is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn (Class of 2007). He also covered sports in Michigan for four years at The Battle Creek Enquirer (in Battle Creek, MI). Visit him at www.aarondavidharris.com
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