Saturday, December 24, 2005

The 1997 Debate Lives On

Today's Omaha World-Herald looks back at the debate over the 1997 National Championship, split between Nebraska and Michigoon. Initially, I was rather surprised that of the 6 writers, 5 of them picked the Wolverines to win if the two were to meet. Those predictions:
Malcolm Moran, USA Today: M 27, N 16
Tom Dienhart, Sporting News: M 17, N 13
Don Borst, Lindy's: M 20, N 17
Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated: M 17, N 14
Mark Blaudschun, Boston Globe: M 34, N 24
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sportsline: N 35, M 27

But, of course, you have to remember that the writers gave their title to the Goonies, so perhaps this shouldn't be such a surprise. And Dennis Dodd briefly worked for the Omaha World-Herald in the early 90's...

Wolverine fans love to play the comparative score game to stake their claim that Michigoon was clearly the superior team in 1997, but they stop looking any deeper than the scores. Yes, Michigoon beat Colorado 27-3 and Nebraska beat Colorado 27-24. However, those games were two and a half months apart (UM-CU was in early September; NU-CU was the day after Thanksgiving). They also point to the Baylor game: Michigoon 38, Baylor 3 versus Nebraska 49, Baylor 21. But, they forget that both of those games were home games for Michigoon while Nebraska was on the road both times. Also, the scores of both those games for Nebraska were much closer than they really were. Both Colorado and Baylor each scored 2 late touchdowns; in the 4th quarter, it was NU 27, CU 10 and NU 49, BU 7.

Michigoon fans also love to point out the "Miracle at Missouri" when Nebraska tied the game on Matt Davison's diving catch of a deflected pass as time expired. However, they also ignore the last second running off the clock at the Rose Bowl with Washington State at the Michigoon 16. (The clock still read :01 when Ryan Leaf spiked the ball.)

So, what we are left with is a great debate for some. No debate for me, though. Michigan had a great team that year, but Nebraska was the National Champion.


Tom said...

We both know that Tom Osborne received a nice retirement gift that year from his colleagues, and thats what it was a gift. Defense wins championships!!!!

Husker Mike said...

Defense is part of the reason why Nebraska would have whupped up on Michigoon.