Dennis Franklin, Michigan's slick faking quarterback, who has been troubled with a sprained ankle, drew comparisons with another battle of titans. "When Ali fought Foreman he could have taken it easy because he'd already been champ. What did he have to win for? He had to win because he had so much pride to regain after all the inequities he had to go through. That's what it's like for us."
The Buckeyes were no less psyched up. "This is going to be college football at its very best," predicted Defensive Back Neal Colzie. "They say that pro ball is not like this. If that's true, I'll be very disappointed."
Colzie sounds like a chip off the old Woody. So did Schembechler when, like Hayes, he closed his practices last week. Slightly paranoid about intruders, he even sent a team of student assistants off to corner a UPI photographer who was trying to get a shot from the roof of a house across the street from the practice field. Actually, Hayes and Schembechler, whose careers are so similar, also are so similar in method that their teams could exchange playbooks and it is doubtful if anyone in the stands would be any wiser.
Indeed, except for a surprise opening pass that came within a knuckle or two of being intercepted, the two teams were almost mirror images of one another last Saturday. Franklin threw more and Cornelius Greene, the Buckeye quarterback, did a lot of scrambling during the afternoon, but the primary tactics were the same: grind it out.
The first two quarters differed sharply. The Wolverines kicked off with the wind, pinned Ohio State inside its 15 and took over near midfield. On their fourth play, Franklin, his injured leg taped like a thoroughbred's, passed over the middle to Gil Chapman, who eluded one tackier and veered off to the corner of the end zone for a 42-yard score. On their second series, Gordon Bell, a bolter who runs at a forward angle that seems to defy gravity, crashed for 43 yards in seven plays to set up a field goal by Mike Lantry. With barely 10 minutes expired, the Wolverines were ahead 10-0. It looked for a moment as if a high-scoring game, if not a rout, might be in the offing.
But only for a moment. With Griffin shifting into overdrive, Ohio State invaded Michigan territory at the end of the quarter. On the first play of the second period, with a 20-mile-an-hour wind behind him, Buckeye Kicker Tom Klaban set up for what was to become a familiar sight. Though the snap was errant, Klaban got off a 47-yard sidewinder that hooked through the uprights.
Griffin kept pounding away to the increasing befuddlement of the Wolverine defense. At one point, when Linebacker Strinko met the powering Griffin head on in a hugger-mugger clasp, Strinko went down and sat there for several long astonished moments watching Archie plow on for five more yards.
More discouraging was the sight of Klaban coming on to register another field goal, a 25-yarder, the second of the quarter. Then, with just seconds remaining in the first half, Greene connected with Split End Dave Hazel for 26 yards to usher Klaban in once again. His third kick was a 43-yarder that cut the Michigan margin to 10-9.
Bell, who rushed for 93 yards in the first half, was held to a mere 16 after the break mainly because of the ferocious play of Linebacker Bruce Elia and Tackle Pete Cusick. With Greene finding his running legs, the Buckeyes penetrated far enough early in the third quarter to again bring in the omnipresent Klaban. His kick, a 45-yard boomer, put Ohio State into the lead for the first time, 12-10.
From there on it was all push and shove with Cusick & Co. getting in most of the hardest licks. During one series the 250-pound Cusick singlehandedly stopped the Wolverines cold three times in succession.