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1980 Michigan Wolverines football team

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Conference  Big Ten Conference
AP  No. 4
Defensive coordinator  Bill McCartney
Coaches  No. 4
1980 record  10–2 (8–0 Big Ten)
1980 Michigan Wolverines football team
Head coach  Bo Schembechler (12th year)

The 1980 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1980 Big Ten Conference football season. Coached by Bo Schembechler, Michigan won the Big Ten Conference championship with a record of 10–2 (8–0 in conference) and defeated the Washington Huskies in the 1981 Rose Bowl game, 23–6. After starting the season 1–2 with a narrow victory over Northwestern and losses to Notre Dame and South Carolina, the 1980 season looked like it would be disappointment. A quarterback controversy concerning the choice of Rich Hewlett to start the season over the popular John Wangler added to the early-season turmoil. However, the defense gathered strength over the course of the season, scored three consecutive shutouts, and did not allow a touchdown in the final 22 quarters of the season. The offense was led by All-Americans Anthony Carter at wide receiver and George Lilja at center. The Rose Bowl victory over Washington was Schembechler's first win in a bowl game, following seven bowl games losses. After falling out of the rankings for four weeks in the middle of the season, the 1980 Wolverines ended up being ranked #4 in both the AP and Coaches polls.


Preseason expectations

The 1979 season marked the first time Michigan had not ended the season ranked among the nation's top ten teams since Bo Schembechler took over as coach in 1969. In the AP's 1980 preseason poll, Michigan was not even picked to be one of the top two teams in the Big Ten Conference. The AP picked Ohio State (led by Art Schlichter) as the No. 1 team in the country, and Purdue (led by Mark Herrmann) at No. 9, with Michigan ranked No. 12.

Week 1: Northwestern

In the first game of the year, Michigan played Northwestern. The game began in a heavy rain that turned into a downpour for most of the first half. The game was unexpectedly close, as Northwestern, in the midst of a 34-game losing streak, dominated a third quarter in which Michigan ran only three plays and had the ball for two minutes and thirty seconds. Northwestern then scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to tie the game, 10-10, "before a stunned crowd of 100,824 at Michigan Stadium." Michigan fans were unsure of the young sophomore quarterback, Rich Hewlett, starting in place of senior John Wangler, who had been injured in the previous year's Gator Bowl. With the game tied, 10-10, the disenchanted Michigan fans began chants of "We Want Wangler." With Northwestern still controlling the ball in the fourth quarter, Andy Cannavino fell on a Northwestern fumble at the Wildcats' 23-yard line. Hewlett responded with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Carter in the left corner of the end zone (Hewlett's second touchdown pass of the game to Carter) to give Michigan a 17-10 lead. In the final three minutes of the game, Northwestern drove the ball from its own 27 to the Michigan 7, but Andy Cannavino intercepted a pass on fourth down. After the game, Hewlett said he tried not to pay attention to the chants calling for Wangler, and Bo Schembechler said, "I don't care who they call for. You know that won't dictate what I do."

Week 2: at Notre Dame

In the second week of the season, Michigan played Notre Dame in South Bend. After a scoreless first quarter, Notre Dame took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. John Wangler replaced Rich Hewlett in the second quarter, and threw two touchdown passes in the span of 1:19 to tie the game, 14-14, at halftime. In the second half, Anthony Carter returned the opening kickoff 67 yards to the Notre Dame 32-yard line, and Michigan scored on a two-yard run by Stanley Edwards. Notre Dame scored a touchdown (but missed the extra point) with 1:03 left in the third quarter on a 49-yard interception return of a Wangler pass. The last three minutes of the game proved to be one of the most exciting finishes in the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry. With 3:03 left in the game, Notre Dame scored to take a 26-21 lead (an attempted two-point conversion failed). On the next drive, Butch Woolfolk ran 36 yards on a trap play, taking the ball to the Notre Dame four-yard line with less than a minute to play. Wangler threw a pass to Woolfolk in the end zone that was tipped and caught by Michigan tight end, Craig Dunaway, to give the Wolverines a 27-26 lead with 41 seconds left. After a touchback, Notre Dame took over on its own 20-yard line with 40 seconds left. In five plays, Notre Dame moved the ball to the Michigan 41-yard line. Notre Dame's drive was aided by a controversial pass interference call against Michigan of which Coach Schembechler said after the game, "It was the key play, without it, they wouldn't have scored at all." And on the final play of the game, Notre Dame placekicker Harry Oliver kicked an improbable 51-yard field into a strong wind to give Notre Dame the 29-27 victory. Notre Dame coach Dan Devine performed the sign of the cross as Oliver's kick left his foot, and Oliver said, "This is by far the greatest moment of my life. I have to thank God and Our Lady, God had to be with me." Schembechler said after the game, "I'm proud of the way we came back. We had as much right to win as they did. But they hung in there and they had the last shot. Time just ran out."

Week 3: South Carolina

Michigan faced South Carolina and 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers in the third week of the season. The press deemed South Carolina to be a heavy underdog going into the game. One writer noted, "Opponents like South Carolina are expected to be patsies. No trouble to beat." Consistent with expectations, Michigan took a 14-3 lead into halftime on a pair of touchdown passes from John Wangler to Anthony Carter. On the first drive of the second half, Michigan drove the ball to South Carolina's 8-yard line and appeared to be poised to take a 21-3 lead. However, on first and goal, Stan Edwards fumbled the ball into the endzone, and South Carolina recovered. South Carolina drove the ball 80 years for a touchdown to tighten the score to 14-10. On the ensuing drive, Michigan faced a fourth down with one yard to go at its own 29-yard line. Michigan faked the punt, but Stan Edwards was stopped for no gain. South Carolina responded with its second touchdown on the short field and took a 17-14 lead. After the game, Coach Schembechler blamed himself for the loss and the fake punt call. He said, "It was that a coach didn't have confidence in his defense. Hey, I've got to start realizing our defense isn't that bad. We should have punted ..." Late in the fourth quarter, Michigan had a chance to tie the game with a field goal, but opted to go for the touchdown on a pass play that was tipped off the hands of Anthony Carter. On not kicking the field goal, Schembechler said, "My players wouldn't want a tie in a non-conference game." South Carolina's offense was led by its tailback (and Heisman Trophy winner) George Rogers, who gained 142 yards on 36 carries.

With the loss to South Carolina, Michigan was 1-2 and had lost 5 of its last 6 games. It was the first time Michigan had lost consecutive non-conference games since 1967.

Week 4: California

In its fourth game, Michigan beat California, 38-13, in front of 104,621 spectators at Michigan Stadium. The game was close for the first three quarters, as Cal's Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Rich Campbell, completed 22 of 34 passes (including 15 for 15 in the second half) for 249 yards. But three fourth-quarter touchdowns by Michigan gave Michigan a 25-point margin of victory. Michigan gained 388 rushing yards in the game, including 184 yards by Lawrence Ricks and 127 yards by Stan Edwards. After the game, Schembechler noted that respect for Cal quarterback Campbell led Michigan to emphasize the run: "Our intention was to control the ball and keep our defense off the field. You won't see that kind of running much more this season. ... Campbell dictated our offense. Our strategy was to keep him off the field. You're never out of the woods with Campbell."

Week 5: Michigan State

In the fifth week of the season, Michigan defeated its in-state rival, Michigan State, in a close game by a score of 27-23. Michigan running back Butch Woolfolk rushed for 136 yards, and the Spartans' placekicker, Morten Andersen kicked three field goals in the game, including a school-record 57-yarder. With the game tied 13-13 in the second half, Michigan State was penalized for roughing Michigan placekicker, Ali Haji-Sheikh. Though Haji-Sheikh's field goal was good, Michigan coach Schembechler decided to accept the penalty (taking three Michigan points off the board) and go for the touchdown. Three plays later, John Wangler threw a touchown pass to Anthony Carter. When questioned about the call after the game, Schembechler grinned and said, "So old Bo isn't too dumb is he?" Michigan scored its final touchdown on a pass from Wangler to Craig Dunaway. Michigan intercepted a pass in the final minute-and-a-half of the game to stop the Spartans' final drive.

Week 6: at Minnesota

In the annual Little Brown Jug game, Michigan defeated Minnesota, 37-14, in front of a crowd of 56,298 at Memorial Stadium in Minneapolis. Minnesota held Michigan to 202 rushing yards, but quarterback John Wangler completed 16 of 22 passes for a personal-high 227 yards, and Anthony Carter caught nine passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Ali Haji-Sheikh added three field goals.

Week 7: Illinois

Michigan defeated Illinois, 45–14, before a homecoming crowd of 105,109 in Ann Arbor. The game had special significance, because Michigan assistant coaches Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr had been fired by Illinois after the 1979 season. Rumors spread before the game that coach Schembechler wanted to "make Illinois pay" for the firings. Michigan back Stan Edwards and Lawrence Ricks rushed for 152 and 97 yards, respectively. Anthony Carter caught five passes for 121 yards and a touchdown in the first half. After the game, the Michigan players presented game balls to assistant coaches Moeller and Carr.

Week 8: at Indiana

The Michigan defense scored its first of three straight shutouts in week eight, as Michigan defeated Indiana, 35-0. Michigan running backs Butch Woolfolk and Lawrence Ricks ran for 152 and 123 yards respectively. The game's most unusual moment came when Ricks scored two touchdowns in a span of only 28 seconds in the first quarter. Ricks ran 29 yards for a touchdown, and on the ensuing kickoff, Indiana fumbled on its own 22 yard-line. Ricks ran the ball twice, scoring on the second carry after the fumble recovery. Anthony Carter caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Wangler, and Woolfolk added a 64-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Week 9: at Wisconsin

Michigan shut out Wisconsin on the road in week nine, by a score of 24-0. Anthony Carter caught a touchdown pass to set a Michigan school record for touchdown receptions in a single season.

Week 10: Purdue

Michigan's most impressive defensive performance of the season came in week 10, a 26–0 shutout of Purdue. Purdue was led that year by senior quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Mark Herrmann, who set all-time NCAA records for passing yardage and total offense. It was only the second time in Herrmann's four years at Purdue that the Boilermakers were shut out. In the second half, the defense did not allow a first down, and Herrmann passed for only 24 yards. The Wolverines defense also intercepted three of Herrmann's passes, including two by Tony Jackson. On offense, Michigan wide receiver Anthony Carter caught his 18th and 19th touchdown passes of the season. After the game, coach Schembechler expressed surprise when he was told that the defense had not allowed a single first down in the second half. Schembechler remarked, "Unbelievable. We've never shut any body down since I've been here like we did Purdue in the second half."

Week 11: at Ohio State

In the final game of the regular season, Michigan faced Ohio State in front of a record crowd of 88,827 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State, which started the season ranked No. 1 in the country, had lost a non-conference game to UCLA and came into the game ranked No. 5. The Buckeyes were led by senior quarterback Art Schlichter who became the third player in Big Ten history to surpass 6,000 yards in total offense (Mark Herrmann and Rick Leach were the first to accomplish the feat). Michigan's only touchdown came late in the third quarter on a pass from John Wangler to Anthony Carter. Butch Woolfolk rushed for 142 yards. Placekicker Ali-Haji-Sheikh kicked a 43-yard field goal in the first half, though he missed a 38-yarder. However, the game was close due to Michigan mistakes, including three interceptions, two missed field goals, and an extra-point kick that hit the left upright and bounced back on the field. The errors led coach Schembechler to say, "It may not be the prettiest win and its wasn't the most explosive offensive show you've ever seen, but we won it." Ohio State had a chance to win late in the fourth quarter, as Schlichter completed a 28-yard pass to the Michigan 32-yard line with less than a minute to play. On the ensuing drive, Schlichter was penalized for intentional grounding and was sacked on the next play with 13 seconds left on the clock. The Michigan defense held Schlichter to 8-of-25 passing and extended its streak of not having allowed a touchdown to 18 quarters and 274 minutes.

After the game, coach Schembechler paid tribute to his Big Ten championship team: "This was a great group in terms of never giving up. I enjoy this championship more than any of the previous ones because of the way we came back."

1981 Rose Bowl

As the Big Ten Conference champion, Michigan advanced to the 1981 Rose Bowl game in which it defeated the Pac-10 Conference champion Washington Huskies by a score of 23–6. Coach Bo Schembechler, who had gone winless in seven prior bowl games (five Rose Bowls, an Orange Bowl, and a Gator Bowl), was the focus of much of the pre-game press coverage. Michigan center George Lilja noted before the game, "We want to win for our coach as much as for ourselves." Michigan scored on a six-yard touchdown run by Butch Woolfolk to take a 7-6 lead at halftime. Michigan drove the ball 83 yards to start the second half, scoring on a 25-yard field goal by Ali Haji-Sheikh. In the third quarter, Wangler completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Carter, and added another touchdown in the fourth quarter on a one-yard run by Stan Edwards. After the game, Michigan players carried Schembechler off the field on their shoulders as the coach held his arms above his head in victory. In the post-game press conference, Schembechler said, "I stood here five times before a loser. Now I'm smoking a cigar and smiling. ... Right now, I'm on top of the world. I feel great about everything."

Michigan finished the season ranked No. 4 in both the AP and UPI polls.


  • Kurt Becker, offensive guard, senior, Aurora, Illinois - started all 12 games at right offensive guard
  • Norm Betts, tight end, junior, Midland, Michigan - started 11 games at tight end
  • Jim Breaugh, quarterback, senior, West Bloomfield, Michigan
  • Fred Brockington, wide receiver, junior, Detroit, Michigan
  • Anthony Carter, wide receiver, sophomore, Riviera Beach, Florida - started all 12 games at wide receiver
  • Chuck Christian, tight end, senior, Detroit, Michigan - started 1 game at tight end
  • Jerry Diorio, offensive guard, freshman, Youngstown, Ohio
  • Tom Dixon, offensive guard, freshman, Fort Wayne, Indiana - started 1 game at left offensive guard
  • Craig Dunaway, tight end, sophomore, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Stanley Edwards, tailback, senior, Detroit, Michigan - started all 12 games at fullback
  • Jeff Felten, center, junior, Centreville, Michigan
  • Kenneth A. Gear, wide receiver, sophomore, Madison, Wisconsin- backed up both position at wide receiver
  • Rich Hewlett, quarterback, sophomore, Plymouth, Michigan - started 1 game at quarterback
  • Jerald Ingram, fullback, sophomore, Beaver, Pennsylvania
  • George Lilja, center, senior, Palos Park, Illinois - started all 12 games at center
  • Alan Mitchell, wide receiver, senior, Detroit, Michigan - started all 12 games at split end
  • Ed Muransky, offensive tackle, junior, Youngstown, Ohio - started all 12 games at right offensive tackle
  • Tony Osbun, offensive tackle, senior, Kenton, Ohio
  • Bubba Paris, offensive tackle, junior, Louisville, Kentucky - started all 12 games at left offensive tackle
  • John J. Powers, offensive guard, senior, Oak Park, Illinois - started 11 games at left offensive guard
  • Lawrence Ricks, tailback, sophomore, Barberton, Ohio - started 6 games at tailback
  • Kerry Smith, tailback, freshman, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Steve Smith, quarterback, freshman, Grand Blanc, Michigan
  • Rich Strenger, offensive tackle, junior, Grafton, Wisconsin
  • Larry Sweeney, center, freshman, Alma, Michigan
  • Tom Wandersleben, offensive guard, junior, Euclid, Ohio
  • John Wangler, quarterback, senior, Royal Oak, Michigan - started 10 games at quarterback
  • Butch Woolfolk, tailback, junior, Westfield, New Jersey - started 6 games at tailback
  • Defense

  • Brad Bates, defensive back, senior, Port Huron, Michigan
  • Marion Body, defensive back, junior, Detroit, Michigan - started all 12 games (11 at strong-side cornerback, 1 at weak-side cornerback)
  • Mike Boren, linebacker, freshman, Columbus, Ohio
  • Keith Bostic, defensive back, sophomore, Ann Arbor, Michigan - started 8 games at strong safety, 2 games at free safety
  • Jerry Burgei, defensive back, sophomore, Ottawa, Ohio
  • Andy Cannavino, inside linebacker, senior, Cleveland, Ohio - started 11 games at inside linebacker
  • Brian Carpenter, defensive back, junior, Flint, Michigan - started 11 games at weak-side cornerback
  • Winfred Carraway, middle guard, sophomore, Detroit, Michigan - started 5 games at defensive tackle, 1 game at middle guard
  • Milt Carthens, tight end, sophomore, Pontiac, Michigan
  • Jeff Cohen, defensive back, sophomore, Farmington Hills, Michigan - started 2 games at strong safety
  • Cedric Coles, defensive tackle, junior, Detroit, Michigan - started 4 games at defensive tackle
  • Evan Cooper, defensive back, freshman, Miami, Florida
  • Gerald Diggs, defensive back, senior, Chicago, Illinois - started 1 game at strong-side cornerback
  • Paul Girgash, linebacker, sophomore, Lakewood, Ohio - started all 12 games at inside linebacker
  • Thomas J. Hassel, defensive back, freshman, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Jim Herrmann, inside linebacker, sophomore, Dearborn Heights, Michigan - started 1 game at inside linebacker
  • Stefan Humphries, defensive line, freshman, Broward, Florida
  • Tony Jackson, defensive back, junior, Cleveland, Ohio - started 10 games at free safety
  • Oliver Johnson, offensive linebacker, senior, Detroit, Michigan
  • Tony Kelsie, middle guard, junior, Dover, Delaware - started 3 games at middle guard
  • Kelly Keough, defensive tackle, senior, Merrillville, Indiana
  • Mike Lemirande, outside linebacker, junior, Grafton, Wisconsin - started 1 game at outside linebacker
  • John Lott, defensive back, sophomore, Masury, Ohio
  • Fred Motley, middle guard, senior, Dayton, Ohio
  • Dave Nicolau, defensive tackle, senior, Elk Grove Village, Illinois - started 3 games at defensive tackle
  • Mel Owens, outside linebacker, senior, DeKalb, Illinois - started 11 games at outside linebacker
  • Jeff Reeves, defensive back, junior, Columbus, Ohio - started 2 games at strong safety
  • Carlton Rose, linebacker, freshman, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Jeff R. Shaw, middle guard, freshman, Matawan, New Jersey - started 8 games at middle guard, 1 game at defensive tackle
  • Robert Thompson, outside linebacker, junior, Blue Island, Illinois - started all 12 games at outside linebacker
  • Mike Trgovac, middle guard, senior, Austintown, Ohio - started 11 games at defensive tackle
  • Kickers

  • Don Bracken, punter, freshman, Thermopolis, Wyoming
  • Ali Haji-Sheikh, place-kicker, sophomore, Arlington, Texas
  • Awards

  • Captain: Andy Cannavino, George Lilja
  • All-Americans: Anthony Carter, George Lilja
  • All-Conference: Mike Trgovac, Butch Woolfolk, Mel Owens, Andy Cannavino, Anthony Carter, Ed Muransky, George Lilja, Kurt Becker, Bubba Paris, John Powers
  • Most Valuable Player: Anthony Carter
  • Meyer Morton Award: George Lilja
  • John Maulbetsch Award: Keith Bostic
  • Professional football

    Twenty-five (25) members of the 1980 Michigan football team went on to play professional football. They are: Kurt Becker (Chicago Bears, 1982–88, 1990, Los Angeles Rams, 1989), Marion Body (Michigan Panthers, 1983), Keith Bostic (Houston Oilers, 1983–88), Cleveland Browns, 1990), Don Bracken (Green Bay Packers, 1985–90, Los Angeles Rams, 1992-93), Andy Cannavino (Michigan Panthers, 1983, Chicago Blitz, 1984), Brian Carpenter (New York Giants, 1982, Washington Redskins, 1983-84, Buffalo Bills, 1984), Anthony Carter (Michigan Panthers, 1983–84, Oakland Invaders, 1985, Minnesota Vikings, 1985–93, Detroit Lions, 1994-95), Milt Carthens (Indianapolis Colts, 1987), Evan Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles, 1984–87, Atlanta Falcons, 1988-89), Jerry Diorio (Detroit Lions, 1987), Tom Dixon (Michigan Panthers, 1984), Craig Dunaway (Pittsburgh Steelers, 1983), Stanley Edwards (Houston Oilers, 1982–86, Detroit Lions, 1987), Paul Girgash (Michigan Panthers, 1984), Ali Haji-Sheikh (New York Giants, 1983–85, Atlanta Falcons, 1986, Washington Redskins, 1987), Stefan Humphries (Chicago Bears, 1984–86, Denver Broncos, 1987-88), George Lilja (Los Angeles Rams, 1982, New York Jets, 1983–84, Cleveland Browns, 1984–86, Dallas Cowboys, 1987), Ed Muransky (Los Angeles Raiders, 1982–84, Orlando Renegades, 1985), Mel Owens (Los Angeles Rams, 1981–89), Bubba Paris (San Francisco 49ers, 1983–90, Indianapolis Colts, 1991, Detroit Lions 1991), Lawrence Ricks (Kansas City Chiefs, 1983–84), Carlton Rose (Washington Redskins, 1987), Rich Strenger (Detroit Lions, 1983–87), Robert Thompson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1983–84, Detroit Lions, 1987), and Butch Woolfolk (New York Giants, 1982–84, Houston Oilers, 1985-86, Detroit Lions, 1987–88).

    Coaching staff

    Michigan's assistant coaches in 1980 included six individuals who went on to success as head coaches -- Les Miles (who won the 2007 National Championship with LSU), Lloyd Carr (who won the 1997 National Championship with Michigan), Bill McCartney (who led Colorado to a national title in 1990), Ron Vanderlinden (head coach at Maryland for four years), Gary Moeller (who led Michigan to three Big Ten championships and a No. 5 ranking in 1992), and Paul Schudel (head coach at Ball State from 1985–1994). The coaching staff also included Tirrel Burton, Tim Davis, Jerry Hanlon, Jerry Meter, Bob Thornbladh, Milan Vooletich.


    1980 Michigan Wolverines football team Wikipedia

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