3 Saturdays: Ohio State vs Michigan 1986

There’s hardly any time left at all before football kicks off. Teams are starting to practice already.


Ohio State vs Michigan has long been one of the best rivalries in the country and many think it is the very best. It has lost a little of it’s luster of late, but this game can be a war. A lot of folks still just call this game ‘The Game’.


Jim Harbaugh promised a Michigan win in 1986 and they were an explosive team.


Ohio State had super star WR Chris Carter. Their defense was led by outstanding LB Chris Spielman.


How many times have these two teams played for a Rose Bowl berth?

This was just another one of those games.


Michigan came in with a 9-1 record and ranked #6. They were 9-0 before being upset by Minnesota the week before, 20-17.

The Buckeyes took a different route getting to this game. They lost in the season opener to 5th ranked Alabama, 16-10. Then, they got absolutely spanked by 17th ranked Washington in Seattle, 40-7. They started the season at 0-2 and then went on a 9 game win streak to come into this game ranked at 7th, at 9-2.


It was the 6th ranked Wolverines vs the 7th ranked Buckeyes with Jim Harbaugh promising a Michigan win.

Harbaugh might should have kept his mouth shut because the Buckeyes came out to play.


This game was wild and back and forth all day. It was a lot of fun for the casual fan, but pretty stressful for both fan bases.


Ohio State threatened to blow this game wide open taking a 14-3 lead, but Michigan gamely fought back. Then, Michigan looked to blow the Buckeyes out going up by 26-17. Like Michigan, Ohio State kept fighting and came back and scored on a pass from Ohio State QB Jim Karsatos to Chris Carter making it 26-24.




Ohio State and Michigan combined for around 800 yards of total offense.

Harbaugh threw for 261 yards and Michigan Running Back Jamie Morris had a monster day and rushed for 210 yards has another 22 yards receiving and 70 return yards and 2 TDs. Morris had a lot of big games for Michigan, but this was his biggest and his best.

Morris was one of those underdogs in college football. Michigan recruited him to return kicks only because he was 5 foot 7 which was considered way too small to be a Running Back. Morris got his chance at RB and started the 3rd game of his freshman year. He then started all 4 years of his time at Michigan rushing for 4,392 yards.


Ohio State’s Chris Spielman had an incredible 29 tackles in this game.  Spielman was the exact opposite of Morris. He was the first high school football player to go on a Wheaties box. He played at the famous Washington High School in Massillon, Ohio. Very highly recruited and highly ranked and he also was a 4 year starter at Ohio State.


Chris Carter of Ohio State was a consensus All American in 1986 and one of the great WR’s in the history of the game. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2013 after an outstanding career with mostly the Minnesota Vikings.



The Ohio State Buckeyes were down by 2 points as time was running out. They made it to the Michigan 28 yard line before 4th and 2 forced Buckeye head coach Earl Bruce to decide on kicking or going for it.

Bruce decided to Kick the Field Goal. Ohio State’s Matt Frantz missed the 45 yard Field Goal with 1:06 still on the clock and the Wolverines just ran the clock out.


Harbaugh made good on his promise of victory, but he got really lucky. Some rank this as the greatest of all the Ohio State-Michigan games but there has been a number of outstanding battles.

Michigan earned another trip to the Rose Bowl, where they lost to Arizona State.

Ohio State earned a trip to the Cotton Bowl where they beat SWC champion, Texas A&M 28-12.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *