It’s summer, the time when bloggers rack their brains for something — anything — to write about and college football fans count down the seconds until foot meets pigskin. So, welcome to my latest gimmick: The Michigan Football YouTube Bracket. I’m looking high and low for the best Michigan football moments ever captured on YouTube — divided into two categories: Game Performances/Game Winners and Spectacular Plays — and for you, the readers, to vote on the moment that stands out above the rest.
The 4-seed vs. 5-seed matchup in the “Spectacular Plays” category pits Michigan’s most recent Heisman winner against the school’s first, with both men weaving past defenders — and, in one case, an inebriated fan — to score dramatic touchdowns for the Wolverines:
(4) Charles Woodson’s punt return seals Heisman vs. Ohio State, 1997
Heading into the 1997 Ohio State game, Charles Woodson had done practically everything a defensive player could do to put his name in the Heisman race, shutting down half the field on defense and providing a big-play threat every time he played an offensive down. He lacked one thing on his Heisman resume: Entering the final game of the regular season, Woodson was averaging just 6.6 yards per return on 28 punt returns, with a long of just 20 yards. In fact, wideout Russell Shaw was actually the team’s most effective punt returner, albeit not my much, with an average of 7.6 yards per return. With the Wolverines hanging on to a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, however, it was Woodson who awaited Brent Bartholomew’s kick. One booming punt, a catch, and two lightning-fast cuts later, Michigan held a 13-0 lead and plans for a flight to Pasadena. Woodson, of course, would have to book a flight to New York first — he had a trophy to pick up.
(5) Tom Harmon runs past 11 Cal players, one drunk fan, 1940
The electric Tom Harmon led the nation in scoring in both 1939 and 1940 — a feat that remains unmatched — but none of his many touchdowns matched the combination of peculiarity and impressiveness of his third score in a 41-0 drubbing of Cal in the 1940 season opener. Partway through the second quarter, Harmon had already returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a score and added a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown, which apparently rubbed one Harold Brennan, intoxicated Cal fan, the wrong way. When Harmon took a handoff to the left and proceeded to gallop 86 yards towards the Cal end zone, Brennan charged from the stands and attempted to achieve what the Bears’ defense could not — tackle Tom Harmon. With a deft juke to the right and a well-placed stiff-arm, Harmon easily dispatched the soused fanatic, scoring his third of four touchdowns (in Harmon-like fashion, he would also add a passing touchdown and kick four extra points) in one of the more memorable moments from his 1940 Heisman campaign.
For some great quotes from Brennan and an amazing video using photo stills Life Magazine took of the play, check out this post from MVictors — it provides some hilarious background to the legendary play. (Also, much credit is due to the amazing WolverineHistorian for somehow digging up video of the play — the guy should have a state holiday or something.)
For the rest of the Michigan Football YouTube Bracket, click here or see below for individual posts.
- Game Performances/Winners 1-seed vs. 8-seed: Anthony Carter vs. Indiana against Mario Manningham vs. Michigan State
- Game Performances/Winners 4-seed vs. 5-seed: Mario Manningham vs. Penn State against Remy Hamilton vs. Notre Dame
- Game Performances/Winners 3-seed vs. 6-seed: Tim Biakabutuka vs. Ohio State against Mario Manningham vs. Notre Dame
- Game Performances/Winners 2-seed vs. 7-seed: The Braylon Game vs. Michigan State against Phil Brabbs vs. Washington
- Spectacular Plays 1-seed vs. 8-seed: Charles Woodson vs. Michigan State against Daydrion Taylor vs. Penn State
- Honorable Mentions