- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
No matter. The rest of the afternoon Griffin is passed from hand to hand like a cheap artifact at a swap meet. Not since he was a freshman and a green apple in Woody Hayes' eye does Griffin have such a terrible time. Michigan's line plays straight-on when Ohio State expects it to slant; it slants when the Buckeyes do not expect it to at all; drops to a three-man front with filling linebackers; and swarms, swarms, swarms. Everywhere that Archie goes the blue shirts surely follow.
After a first-possession 63-yard touchdown drive which he sparks with a pass reception and a number of short, darting runs, Griffin is neutralized. Over a stretch of seven carries, he makes a net of three yards; his longest run is five. On a no-gainer sideline play he is submarined by Wolfman (Roverback) Don Dufek, an omnivorous defender, and in rapid order is struck by three flying Wolverines. Archie Griffin has gone 31 regular-season games without making fewer than 100 yards; in his last two against Michigan he has made 163 and 111. But on this day he gets 46 in 19 punishing (for him, not Michigan) carries. "It's not the 100 yards that matters, it's the average per carry," Schembechler had said. In this game Archie averages a meager 2.4 a carry.
So is Archie crying? No, Archie is rejoicing. "I'd give up all 31 of those 100-yard games for this one," he says afterward. Typical Griffin. "The greatest, the most unselfish player I've ever known. Archie Griffin could be the first black President," says Hayes, who is now unstoppable (no 97-second press conference this time). He calls the Buckeye comeback "the greatest in my 25 years of coaching."
What has Griffin's 46 yards to do with it? Heat, mainly. The heat he takes off the rest of the Ohio State offense. Eventually. But to set it up further:
In seven possessions, from their second play of the second quarter until only seven minutes remain in the fourth, the Buckeyes on offense are three plays and out. Not a first down in more than 30 minutes. Michigan dominates. During that stretch the Wolverines get six yards for every one they give up. Bell and Fullback Rob Lytle rip into the Ohio State defense with startling success, and Leach refuses to accept the opportunity to choke. Only when he is confronted, and confused, by a surprise seven-man line does he act his age, and even then, even after an errant pitchout stops one Michigan drive, and an interception another, and his own fumble a third, he is not discouraged.
He marshals Michigan 80 yards to a tying touchdown just before the half, the Wolverines achieving it on an 11-yard pass from Bell to Wingback Jim Smith, who makes as if to block Cornerback Craig Cassady, then shields him away with his backside as he turns for a stretching fingertip catch just inside the flag at the goal. And after sparring fitfully through the third quarter, Leach takes Michigan 43 yards to a 14-7 lead, setting it up with two passes to Smith and getting the touchdown himself on a one-yard keep off the left side.
Now there is only 7:11 to play, and time to reintroduce Ohio State Quarterback Cornelius Greene. You remember Corny from past episodes. He is also called "Flam," which is short for flamboyant. Flamboyant is the color of Corny Greene's wardrobe, but flamboyant is not what you would call his quarterbacking, through no fault of his own. His body might belong to his haberdasher, but Greene's arm belongs to Woody Hayes. Woody is sometimes called "Wood." His critics say that is just about the consistency of his thinking when it comes to passing the football. But with the ball on the Ohio State 20 after Michigan went ahead, Greene is sent in with orders to do exactly that.
Television is renewing itself with a commercial break so Greene summons the Buckeyes together "for a prayer." What does he pray for at a time like that? "Extra strength," he says. He seems to get it immediately. On the first play he winds up like Sandy Koufax and throws downfield, badly overshooting his receiver with what looks suspiciously like a desperation pass. On second down he is rushed into his end zone by blitzing Wolverines, somehow escapes and throws into a cluster of the wrong people. Two Michigan players get dibs at it and come up empty.
It must be recalled at this point that Corny Greene averages 8.7 passes a game. In two years he has not thrown as many as 16 passes, the number he is to throw in this game. On third and ten—really desperate now—he calls a play-action pass off a fake to Griffin. The Michigan linebacker on the side he wants to throw draws in out of respect for Archie, and Greene throws to Wingback Brian Baschnagel over the coverage for 17 yards—Ohio State's first first down since the second quarter.
And just like that it became Ohio State's game.