Commentary

Important numbers in U-M history

70-61: Tale of Willis Ward and Gerald Ford leaves indelible mark

Updated: July 16, 2012, 5:42 PM ET
By Chantel Jennings | WolverineNation

Over the coming weeks, WolverineNation staff writer Chantel Jennings will be examining some of the most important numbers in the history of Michigan athletics. Today, she takes a crack at Nos. 70 through 61.

70

Yards -- In the 1987 Michigan/Ohio State game, the Wolverines got out to a 13-0 start. But with a quick touchdown pass and a 70-yard run from Ohio State freshman Carlos Snow, the Buckeyes took the lead and never trailed again, winning 23-20.

[+] EnlargeMichigan softball 2005
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiMichigan claimed the Women's College World Series in 2005, the first year the event went to a best-of-3 series between the final teams.

69

Year -- The 1969 Michigan/OSU football game is arguably the most important rivalry game in school history. It was the start of Bo vs. Woody and the Ten Year War. Ohio State was No. 1 in the country and came in riding a 22-game win streak. A trip to the Rose Bowl was on the line and in front of 103,588 fans (at that point, the record for largest crowd), Schembechler and the 1969 squad beat Ohio State, 24-12.

68

Date -- 6/8/2005. The date the Michigan softball team won the Women's College World Series. Pitcher Jennie Ritter led the Wolverines to the victory after giving up just five hits to UCLA. It was the Wolverines first, and only, national title.

67

Points -- Michigan had to come up with 67 points to subdue Illinois in a football game that featured the most combined points ever scored in a Michigan football game (132). The Wolverines won 67-65 in three overtimes.

66

Year -- The last year the Michigan basketball team played in Yost Fieldhouse was 1966.

65

Players -- In Bo Schembechler's first year as head coach, 65 of the 140 players who came out for the team quit before the season even started.

64

Yards -- On the final play of the Colorado/Michigan game in 1994, Colorado quarterback Kordell Stewart launched a 64-yard pass that would end in Michael Westbrook's hands. Colorado would complete the comeback and beat Michigan, 27-26. It would eventually become known as the "Miracle at Michigan" game.
Runner-up: Field goals -- Garrett Rivas' mark for career field goals made.

[+] EnlargeBrian Griese
AP Photo/Tom PidgeonBrian Griese didn't throw often during the 1997 national championship season, but he was efficent and effective when he did.

63

Percent -- Quarterback Brian Griese's completion percentage during the 1997 national championship season.

62

Year -- 1962 marks the season with the worst winning percentage during Michigan football's modern history. The Wolverines went 2-7 (29 percent).

61

Jersey -- Willis Ward wore No. 61 for the Michigan football team. He is in the Michigan Athletic Hall of Fame for his football and track achievements, having lettered three times in each from 1932-34. But he's best known for being at the center of a controversy over which he had no control. The third game of the 1934 football season was against Georgia Tech, and the Yellow Jackets said they would refuse to take the field against the Wolverines if Ward, who was black, participated. Over the protests of Michigan player and students, including Ward's road roommate Gerald Ford, Wolverines coach Harry Kipke didn't play Ward and the game went off. Michigan won, 9-2.

Chantel Jennings | email

Oregon/Pac-12 reporter