Best Team in College Football History Not on Probation that didn’t get a Bowl Bid

The Michigan Wolverines of 1972 through 1974.

They had a 30-2-1 record, but they never went to a bowl game. They were a clean program and definitely not on probation.

The Big 10 had a rule in those years that only the Big 10 champion could to to a bowl game and that was to the Rose Bowl.

The 1972 Wolverines were the defending Big 10 Champions, but they were upset by the Stanford

Cardinal in the Rose Bowl. Actually, back in those days Stanford was the Indians, before they became named after a color.

They started the 1972 season ranked 11th in the country. They started the season not very impressively with a close victory over Northwestern. But, it was Quarterback Dennis Franklin’s first start.

But, the following week the Wolverines traveled to Los Angeles and beat up the 6th ranked UCLA Bruins, 26-9.

18th ranked Tulane was next and the 8th ranked Wolverines ran over them with a 41-7 stomping. Other than a tough 10-0 win over Michigan State and a tough win over a bad Purdue team, 9-6, the Wolverines ran all over the Big 10 competition that season.

But, then, the 3rd rated Wolverines met up with their chief rival, the 9th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and they were upset, 11-14.

Woody Hayes and his Buckeyes earned the right to face the unbeaten USC Trojans and were obliterated, 17-42.

But, that USC team was one of the great teams of all time.

Both Ohio State and Michigan were destined to be much better teams in 1973.

The Michigan Wolverines finished their 1972 season with an 10-1 record and ranked 6th in the final Associated Press Poll and didn’t even play in a bowl game.

In 1973, Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines began the season ranked 5th, while their chief rivals, Ohio State was ranked 3rd. Michigan returned stars like Quarterback Dennis Franklin and Running Backs Ed Shuttlesworth and Chuck Heater, plus they added speedster Gordon Bell. The defense was more than feisty led by Defensive Lineman Dave Gallagher and Defensive Back Dave Brown.

1973 was unusual season with a lot of unbeaten teams by the end of the year. 1973 season

Both Michigan and Ohio State destroyed everyone on their schedule in 1973. By season’s end, the 4th ranked Michigan Wolverines hosted the top ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and a fierce defensive battle ensued. This was right in the middle of the famous 10 Year War between Woody and Bo, and this game may have been the hardest fought of them all. 10 Year War

Ohio State won the first half, 10-0. Michigan won the second half, 10-0 and the game ended in a

disappointing tie. Everyone involved thought the Wolverines would get the Rose Bowl bid because they really outplayed the Buckeyes in the second half and missed Field Goals that would have won the game outright for them.

Since the game ended in a tie, and there was no Overtime back in those years, the bowl bid would be decided by votes from each Big 10 school. Ohio State won that vote which was a huge controversy in those years.

Other than one of the teams involving the Super Sophomores, this was probably Woody Hayes’ best team. They were number one and tying Michigan cost them their top ranking and they went to the Rose Bowl and got revenge on USC from the previous Rose Bowl beat down that they received.

The Buckeyes just clouded up and rained all over the USC Trojans, beating them 42-21.

They would have been national champs if they had beaten Michigan.

Michigan, on the other hand, was 10-0-1 on the season and staying home for the holidays. Bo Schembechler was said to have been very bitter about this. They finished the season ranked 6th and at home for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

They may have been bitter, but the 1974 team also returned some talent from the previous season with Quarterback Dennis Franklin now a senior. Gordon Bell was now the star at Running Back, but they also returned Chuck Heater and a promising youngster named Rob Lytle.

The 1974 version of the Wolverines started the season ranked where they ended the previous two, ranked 6th. They had a couple of close calls during the season. Wisconsin gave them fits at Camp Randall with Michigan barely surviving, 24-20. They also had a tough time with Illinois in

Champaign, before getting out of their with a hard fought 14-6 win.

Their annual show down with the Buckeyes was in Columbus in 1974 and the Buckeyes had Heisman Trophy winner, Archie Griffin. The Buckeyes won another tough, tough battle, 12-10 and earned yet another Rose Bowl berth.

The 3rd ranked Michigan Wolverines finished their 1974 season with an impressive 10-1 record, but once again they were staying home.

But, this would be the last season for the tremendously idiotic rule of no bowl games unless it’s the Rose Bowl and the 1975 Michigan team went to the Orange Bowl.

Dennis Franklin was a three year starter at Quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines and he led his team to a really impressive 3 year record of 30-2-1.

Members of his recruiting class never went to a bowl game. They never beat Ohio State.

In today’s game, 6-6 teams get to go to bowls even though they probably do not even deserve a bowl game. Yet, a team that was ranked 6th in the nation twice and then 3rd, had to stay home.

This was a football tragedy.



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