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Michigan’s history against USC, UCLA*

*Is UCLA still joining the B1G? How much time have I wasted?

The 2004 Rose Bowl, where’s Michigan’s last outright B1G title team (prior to last year) was also handled rather easily.

Our last installment of our series carries with it a significant surprise (at least to me): Michigan and USC really haven’t played all that much. Ten meetings is more than most B1G teams have against USC, but Ohio State and USC have met 24 times, so I wasn’t expecting as big of a discrepancy given Michigan’s “blue blood” status. What Michigan lacks in volume, they make up for in heartbreak though, so let’s take a look.

4-6 vs. USC

Michigan won the 1948 Rose Bowl, 49-0. They then swept a home-and-home in 1957 and 1958. Since then, in seven meetings with the Trojans, all in the Rose Bowl, Michigan has gone 1-6.

1970: Fresh off of ending Ohio State’s 22-game winning streak in a titanic upset, Michigan headed to only their second Rose Bowl in 18 years. Because of the Big Ten’s no repeat rule, OSU wasn’t eligible for the Rose Bowl anyway, but it did ruin OSU’s national title hopes and sent Michigan to Pasadena as B1G champs. Once there, Michigan was shut down by the Trojan D, losing 10-3. Michigan played the game without Bo Schembechler as he had suffered a mild heart attack (No way, not with his calm demeanor!)

1977: This was a marquee matchup as both teams entered 10-1, with Michigan ranked #2 and USC #3 (though #1 Pittsburgh, who was undefeated, had already locked down the national title by beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, which used to be played during the day). USC won 14-6 as freshman RB Charles White (remember that name) ran for over 100 yards after starter Rickey Bell left with an early injury. This was the last game as USC head coach for John McKay.

1979: Oh boy.

Look, Bo Schembechler was worse than just a whiny punk, but he WAS a whiny punk. And, yeah, this happened in the second quarter. There was plenty of game left. (USC would win 17-10, earning a share of the national title, jumping Alabama—who USC had beaten earlier in the year—in the UPI poll, but not in the AP.)

Still, Michigan totally got hosed. (Go to 1:22:00 for the definitive replay; just an absolutely blown call). Let’s add to the irony here, shall we?

The Rose Bowl used to have combined crews (half Pac-10 and half B1G) ref the game.

The umpire signaling change of possession was a Pac-10 official.

The side judge overruling him and signaling touchdown was from the Big Ten.

John Brodie and Curt Gowdy both hemmed and hawed saying that maybe White fumbled, but they couldn’t tell if the ball came lose before he crossed the plane (it clearly did). The announcer who was quickest to say that he was pretty sure it was a fumble?

O.J. Simpson.

Quote: “We must be living right down here in Southern California.”

Let’s just move on.

1989: In Michigan’s only win over USC in the last 60 years, the #11 Wolverines upset the #5 Trojans 22-14, rallying from a 14-3 halftime deficit. Leroy Hoard ran wild in the second half, finishing with 142 yards (on only 19 carries), and Michigan ended the season ranked #4. [One of the biggest “what if” seasons in Michigan history. The Wolverines were 9-2-1, but the losses were 19-17 (on a walk-off FG) to eventual national champion Notre Dame, and 31-30 to eventual #2 Miami, in a game Michigan led 30-14 in the fourth quarter. Oh, and the tie? 17-17 to Iowa when Michigan fumbled on the Iowa 1 with just over a minute to go.]

1990: Michigan had started the season ranked #1, but decided it was a good idea to kick to Raghib Ismail...even after he had taken a kickoff back for a TD (with less than a minute to play in the first half). Final score: Notre Dame 24, Michigan 19 on TWO Ismail KO return TDs. Michigan tore off 10 straight wins and entered the Rose Bowl ranked #3 (but with next to no chance at a national title). But #12 USC, 8-2-1, pulled the 17-10 upset (that score again). With it 10-10 midway through the fourth, Michigan executed a fake punt, but was called for holding (Bob Griese thought it was a good call). USC drove for the winning TD with just over a minute to go in Bo Schembechler’s last game.

2004: USC won 28-14, grabbing the AP title in the only split national title of the BCS era (and almost certainly the last split national title). To be honest, it wasn’t as close as the score might indicate. USC went up 14-0 late in the second, and it never got any closer.

2007: Michigan entered this game ranked #3, and plenty of people thought the inaugural official BCS national championship game should have been a rematch of Ohio State’s 42-39 win in the first 1 vs. 2 matchup in the history of The Game. But Florida jumped Michigan in the last poll (and then throttled Ohio State to win the title). With a chance to prove that the computers were wrong, Michigan instead saw a 3-3 game at halftime turn into a 19-3 fourth quarter (and 32-11) deficit as they had no answer for the John David Booty (391 yds, 4 TDs) to Dwayne Jarrett (205 yds, 2 TDs) connection.

8-3 vs. UCLA

Yeah Wolverines! Total ownership of the Bruins!! Yeah, well, let’s deconstruct this.

Michigan had regular season wins in 1956, 1961, 1971, and 1972. They pushed the series record to 5-0 with a win in the 1981 Bluebonnet Bowl (the first bowl meeting between Pac-10 and Big 10 teams outside of the Rose Bowl).

In the 1982 season, UCLA went 2-0 vs Michigan, winning a non-conference game in Ann Arbor 31-27 (in a game Michigan led 21-0), then defeating the Wolverines 24-14 in the 1983 Rose Bowl.

Since then, Michigan won regular season contests in 1989, 1990, and 1996, but UCLA won the most recent matchup, a 23-20 regular season win in Pasadena in 2000.