THE GAME: Michigan 26, Ohio State 24
Michigan 26 Ohio State 24
Columbus, Nov. 22, 1986
Published in The Ohio State University Monthly, January 1987
“The way it should be,” is how Coach Earle Bruce described this year’s Michigan-Ohio State showdown, which would once again determine the Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl representative.
Ohio State was 7-0 and assured of at least a co-championship, while the Wolverines, at 6-1, had to win to claim a shared Big Ten crown and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
It was almost deja vu for the Wolverines as Ohio State positioned itself for a game-winning field goal with 1:06 left. Michigan had suffered its only loss of the season the week before on a Minnesota field goal with no time left.
But junior walk-on placekicker Matt Frantz was wide to the left and the Wolverines won their share of the Big Ten crown. This 1986 Big Ten championship is Ohio State’s 25th in 73 years of Big Ten play, and it’s Bruce’s fourth in eight years at the Buckeye helm.
The game itself was a great one, full of great plays that kept the contest undecided until the 59th minute. Among the highlights were Spielman’s 29 tackles, good for a tie with Tom Cousineau’s school-record 29 against Penn State in 1978. There was Jamie Holland’s 47-yard return of the opening kickoff that started an Ohio State scoring drive that ended with a four-yard quick lob from Karsatos to Carter. Ohio State was up 7-0 just 4:06 into the game.
Then there was Gordon’s tackle on Wolverine Gerald White for a four-yard loss that made Michigan settle for a field goal at 6:20. And there was Ross’s spinning, twisting, break-away reception of a Karsatos pass that went for 32 yards. Workman followed that play with a spectacular 46-yard TD run set up by a great fake from Karsatos. There was Brown’s interception that shut down a Michigan drive. And all that took place in just the first half of play.
Later in the game, with Michigan up 26-17, Darryl Lee blocked a Michigan field-goal attempt to start off a four-play Buckeye scoring drive. Karsatos hit Nate Harris for 19, Workman ran for 14, Karsatos kept for six and then Karsatos hit Carter, who made a diving catch in the end zone.
It was now Michigan 26 and Ohio State 24. The teams traded punts and then Michigan drove from its own 39 to Ohio State’s 41, but William White caused a fumble that Gordon recovered. Ohio State then drove to the Michigan 28, where it was fourth and two with 1:06 left. Frantz’s kick was no good and that was the game. Frantz was 1 for 3 in field goal attempts on the day, hitting one for 27 yards and missing tries of 43 and 45 yards. He was 2 for 2 in extra points.
Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler said that he could not recall a Michigan-Ohio State game in which so many points were scored (50), so much yardage was gained (887 – 529 by Michigan, 358 by Ohio State) and so many great plays were made. In years gone by, descriptions of Ohio State-Michigan games usually included one great play; this year’s had many. And they were seen by a record Ohio Stadium crowd – 90,674 – which beat the old mark of 90,467 last year against Iowa.