Sunday, August 1, 2010

Countdown to Kickoff - 34 days

October 12, 1985, Michigan 31 - MSU 0

You'll remember that my 35th game was the first Michigan game I attended. The 34th game is the first time I watched Michigan away from Michigan Stadium.

Michigan came into the game ranked #3 in the country, MSU was 2-2, but had just lost a 35-31 heart-breaker to eventual conference champ Iowa. Lorenzo White had a great game against the Hawkeyes and was a Heisman Trophy candidate. The Spartans had won the year before. That was the game were Jim Harbaugh broke his arm - leading to Michigan finishing with a 6-6 record.

My Uncle Lefty had long worked for the MSU athletic department. At this time he ran the chain gang - moving the down marker and chains etc. He was nice enough to get me a field pass for this match-up. I think my Uncle Jim was actually moving the orange pylon that helped the players tell where the first down line was. I sat in the north endzone on a folding chair. All 4 Michigan TDs were scored right in front of me - two Eric Kattus TD catches, a blocked punt rumbled into the endzone and a late Phil Webb TD run.

Sitting that low, you can definitely hear the the hatred the Spartan faithful have for the Wolverines. You can't hear the Michigan band even though they're right in front of you.

Michigan's defense was dominant on that day. With this shut out they still hadn't allowed a TD in the season (and wouldn't until 2 weeks later). Messner, Hammerstein and the gang stopped White and the Spartan running game and their passing game had no chance.

Not the most exciting outcome, but the experience of being on the field in such a heated rivalry, made this one of my top games.

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