That's when Fry unwrapped his No. 1 quarterback, Mark Vlasic. He's known to his teammates as Pickle, perhaps not so much because of his last name but because, like the Vlasic Stork, he usually delivers. Until Vlasic's shoulder separated against Texas-El Paso on Sept. 27, only one quarterback in the country outranked Harbaugh in passing efficiency, and that was the Pickle himself.
With Vlasic running the show—he completed 4 of 4 passes—Iowa was liquid again. When Harbaugh was intercepted at the Michigan 40 by Dwight Sis-trunk (nephew of Otis Sistrunk) early in the fourth quarter, Vlasic made good, finding Robert Smith on a third-down scramble for a touchdown: 17-17.
Back came Harbaugh, who's nothing if not persistent. He drove the Wolverines nearly 80 yards to the Iowa 2, only to be caught from behind on a third-down rollout by cornerback Ken Sims. On came wedge-shot specialist Pat Moons for a 27-yard attempt. A funny thing happened: Moons missed.
Back came Vlasic, leading Iowa to the Michigan 43 with two minutes remaining. Then, faced with a third-and-one, the Hawkeyes did a strange thing. They called their first option run of the afternoon. Good call, because the play set up perfectly, with Vlasic pitching to fullback Richard Bass, who had acres of artificial turf in his immediate future. Except that a funny thing happened: The ball bounced Bass-akwards off his hands and into Michigan's.
Back came Harbaugh with 1:57 left, screening and flat-passing and generally hoarding the ball until he handed it over to Moons' sudden and probably permanent all-yardages replacement, Gillette. His third field goal attempt of the year would be a 34-yarder with five seconds showing on the clock, precious little wind in the air and even less coming and going out of the lungs of 105,879 fans at Michigan Stadium.
And that's when it started to get eerie. Hadn't we seen this last year: both teams 5-0 and ranked in the Top 10; the Rose Bowl in the ante; the game coming down to a forgotten sort, a kicker unable to hear the screams of thousands for the pounding of his own heart? "I did; I thought of last year," said Gillette. And who couldn't? Iowa's 1 versus Michigan's 2...an endless drizzle...two seconds to go... Iowa's kicker, Rob Houghtlin...the weight of the farm belt on his shoulder pads...the 29-yard try...the referee's raised arms...the locusts descending on him... Iowa, 12-10....
"I wasn't scared," said Gillette, whom Schembechler calls "the cockiest kid who ever lived." "I just wanted to show people that I could go out and do the same thing that Houghtlin did to us."
On the sideline Harbaugh envisioned nirvana. "Just standing there, I was planning my run out onto the field," he said, "how it would feel to jump on that pile, just like we saw Iowa do last year. Hey, man, they took Pasadena away from us."
Gillette: "Last night at the hotel I envisioned how it would happen 15 or 20 times, seeing it go through."