|1977 Michigan Wolverines football|
Big Ten co-champion
|Conference||Big Ten Conference|
|1977 record||10–2 (7–1 Big Ten)|
|Head coach||Bo Schembechler (9th season)|
|Defensive coordinator||Bill McCartney (1st season)|
|Home stadium||Michigan Stadium|
|1977 Big Ten football standings|
|No. 9 Michigan +||7||–||1||–||0||��||10||–||2||–||0|
|No. 11 Ohio State +||7||–||1||–||0||9||–||3||–||0|
The 1977 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1977 Big Ten Conference football season. In their ninth year under head coach Bo Schembechler, the Wolverines finished the regular season with a 10–1 record, won the Big Ten Conference championship, and lost to Washington in the 1978 Rose Bowl. In the final AP and UPI Polls, Michigan was ranked #9 and #8, respectively.
On offense, quarterback Rick Leach totaled 1,109 passing yards and 370 rushing yards. Russell Davis led the team with 1,013 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns and was selected as the team's most valuable player. Harlan Huckleby added 743 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.
Three Michigan players received first-team honors on the 1977 College Football All-America Team: (1) offensive guard Mark Donahue (consensus); (2) center Walt Downing; and (3) linebacker John Anderson.
|September 10||at Illinois||No. 2/NA||Memorial Stadium • Champaign, Il (Series)||W 37–9||60,477|
|September 17||Duke*||No. 1/1||Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI||W 21–9||104,072|
|September 24||Navy*||No. 1/1||Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI||W 14–7||101,800|
|October 1||No. 5/5 Texas A&M*||No. 3/3||Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI||W 41–3||104,802|
|October 8||at Michigan State||No. 3/2||Spartan Stadium • East Lansing, MI (Paul Bunyan Trophy)||W 24–14||78,183|
|October 15||No. 14/15 Wisconsin||No. 1/1||Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI||W 56–0||104,892|
|October 22||at Minnesota||No. 1/1||Memorial Stadium • Minneapolis, MN (Little Brown Jug)||L 0–16||44,165|
|October 29||Iowa||No. 6/6||Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI||W 23–6||104,617|
|November 5||Northwestern||No. 6/6||Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI||W 63–20||103,211|
|November 12||at Purdue||No. 6/6||Ross–Ade Stadium • West Lafayette, IN||W 40–7||68,003|
|November 19||No. 4/4 Ohio State||No. 5/5||Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI (Rivalry)||W 14–6||106,024|
|January 1, 1978||vs. No. 13/14 Washington*||No. 4/4||Rose Bowl Stadium • Pasadena, CA (Rose Bowl)||NBC||L 20–27||105,312|
|*Non-conference game. Homecoming. #Rankings from AP Poll / Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.|
Week 1: at Illinois
On September 10, 1977, Michigan defeated Illinois, 37-9, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois, in a game matching Michigan coach Bo Schembechler against his former defensive coordinator, who took over as Illinois' head coach in 1977. The game attracted a crowd of 60,477, the largest opening day crowd in Illinois school history. Michigan quarterback Rick Leach rushed for 78 yards and completed six of 11 passes for 76 yards, including touchdown passes of 30 yards to Ralph Clayton and 11 yards to Gene Johnson. Running back Harlan Huckleby rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Russell Davis also rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
Week 2: Duke
On September 17, 1977, Michigan (ranked #1 in the AP Poll) defeated Duke, 21-9, in front of a crowd of 104,072 at Michigan Stadium. On the opening kickoff, Harlan Huckleby stepped across the goal line to the one-yard line, then stepped back, with the ball being marked down at the one-yard line. From there, Michigan was penalized for being offside and then for delay of game. Michigan did not score in the first quarter, but then scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. Rick Leach rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns and complete six of 11 passes for 76 yards. Russell Davis also rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown.
On September 24, 1977, Michigan defeated Navy, 14-7, at Michigan Stadium. Michigan's points were all scored in the second quarter on runs of 13 and 34 yards by running back Harlan Huckleby. Huckleby rushed for 147 yards, and Russell Davis added 93 more, but Navy outgained Michigan by 301 total yards to 277 total yards. Michigan had defeated Navy by 56 points in 1976, and the seven-point victory in 1977 was considered a disappointment. After the game, Michigan dropped from #1 to #3 in the AP and Coaches' Polls.
Week 4: Texas A&M
On October 1, 1977, #3 Michigan defeated #5 Texas A&M, 41-3, in front of 104,802 spectators at Michigan Stadium. Russell Davis rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and Harlan Huckleby added 73 yards and a touchdown. Rick Leach also threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Curt Stephenson. On defense, Ron Simpkins had 14 tackles, recovered a fumble, and blocked a punt that Jim Pickens recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Mike Jolly also returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown. After "skimpy victories" over Duke and Navy, the trouncing of the highly rated Aggies was considered "one of [Michigan's] most stunning performances in recent years. Columnist Joe Falls wrote: "It may have been Bo Schembechler's finest coaching job in his nine years at Michigan." Texas A&M coach Emory Bellard said, "Michigan came out in the second half and beat us every way you can beat a football team. . . . Michigan is an outstanding team."
Week 5: at Michigan State
On October 8, 1997, Michigan defeated Michigan State, 24-14, at Spartan Stadium. Michigan State took a 7-0 lead on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Ed Smith to Kirk Gibson. Michigan responded with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Rick Leach to White and a 50-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead at halftime. Michigan extended its lead to 24-7 in the third quarter on touchdown runs by Russell Davis and Ed Leach. Harlan Huckleby rushed for 146 yards, and Russell Davis added 96 yards. Ralph Clayton caught three passes for 99 yards. Michigan completed four of 10 passes in the game and threw only one pass in the second half.
Week 6: Wisconsin
On October 15, 1977, #1 Michigan defeated undefeated and #14 Wisconsin, 56-0, in front of 104,892 spectators at Michigan Stadium. Rick Leach rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown and completed 10 of 16 passes for 127 yards and touchdown passes to Doug Marsh and Gene Johnson. Roosevelt Smith rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and Russell Davis rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown. Stanley Edwards and B. J. Dickey also scored rushing touchdowns. After the game, Michigan coach Bo Schembechler said, "We played this one as a big game and it turned out that way."
Week 7: at Minnesota
On October 22, 1977, #1 Michigan lost to unranked Minnesota, 16-0, at Memorial Stadium, Minneapolis. All 16 of Minnesota points were scored by Paul Rogind (three field goals and an extra point) and Marion Barber, Jr. (three-yard touchdown run). Both Rogind and Barber were from the State of Michigan—Rogind from Farmington, Michigan and Barber from Detroit. Michigan's offense was shut out for the first time in 112 games dating back to 1967. After the game, Minnesota's players swarmed across the field to reclaim the Little Brown Jug trophy that had been in Michigan's custody for a decade. After the game the Detroit Free Press wrote: "In one fell swoop, Minnesota took away Michigan's No. 1 rating, its undefeated season, and, oh yes, that little chunk of pottery known as the Little Brown Jug."
Week 8: Iowa
On October 29, 1977, Michigan, ranked #6 after losing to Minnesota, defeated Iowa, 23–6, before a crowd of 104,617 at the annual homecoming game at Michigan Stadium. Rick Leach completed nine of 12 passes for 202 yards, including touchdown passes covering 63 yards to Russell Davis, six yards to Gene Johnson, and 32 yards to Rick White. Leach's three touchdown passes gave him 25 for his career, breaking the record of 23 set by Bob Chappuis in the 1940s. Michigan also scored on a safety in the fourth quarter when linebacker Dom Tedesco tackled Iowa's quarterback in the end zone. After the game, Bo Schembechler said, "That was a devastating defeat a week ago. No one will ever know how hard it was to come back from that game."
Week 9: Northwestern
On November 5, 1977, Michigan defeated Northwestern, 63-20, at Michigan Stadium. In the lopsided victory, 77 Michigan players had an opportunity to play in the game. Rick Leach ran for two touchdowns, passed for two more (one to Stanley Edwards, the other to Ralph Clayton), and set a new Michigan's record with 2,664 career passing yards. Late in the game, John Wangler threw a touchdown pass to Alan Mitchell. Michigan totaled 511 yards of total offense.
Week 10: at Purdue
Week 11: Ohio State
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- John Arbeznik, offensive guard, junior, University Heights, Ohio - started 1 game at right offensive guard
- Greg Bartnick, offensive guard, junior, Detroit, Michigan - started 2 games at right offensive guard
- Kurt Becker, offensive tackle, freshman, Aurora, Illinois
- Roger Bettis, quarterback, senior, Minerva, Ohio
- Jim Breaugh, quarterback, freshman, West Bloomfield, M wing back, sophomore, Detroit, Michigan - started 8 games at wing back
- Russell Davis, fullback, junior, Woodbridge, Virginia - started all 12 games at fullback
- B. J. Dickey, quarterback, freshman, Ottawa, Ohio
- Gerald Diggs, tailback, sophomore, Chicago, Illinois
- Mark Donahue, offensive guard, senior, Oak Lawn, Illinois - started all 12 games at left offensive guard
- Walt Downing, center, senior, Coatesville, Pennsylvania - started all 12 games at center
- Bill Dufek, offensive tackle, senior, East Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Stanley Edwards,tailback, freshman, Detroit, Michigan
- Jon Giesler, offensive tackle, junior, Woodville, Ohio - started 1 game at left offensive tackle, 1 game at right offensive tackle
- Harlan Huckleby, tailback, junior, Detroit, Michigan - started all 12 games at tailback
- Gene Johnson, tight end, junior, Flint, Michigan - started 9 games at tight end
- Stacy Johnson, quarterback, junior, Camden, New Jersey
- Dave Kadela, offensive tackle, junior, Dearborn, Michigan
- Mike Kenn, offensive tackle, senior, Evanston, Illinois - started 11 games at left offensive tackle
- Kevin King, fullback, senior, Oak Lawn, Illinois
- Rick Leach, quarterback, junior, Flint, Michigan - started all 12 games at quarterback
- George Lilja, center, sophomore, Palos Park, Illinois
- Doug Marsh, tight end, junior, Akron, Ohio
- Alan Mitchell, wide receiver, freshman, Detroit, Michigan
- John J. Powers, offensive tackle, sophomore, Oak Park, Illinois - started 10 games at right offensive tackle
- Lawrence P. Reid, fullback, sophomore, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Max Richardson, wing back, senior, Fort Wayne, Indiana - started 4 games at wing back
- Mark Schmerge, tight end, junior, Cincinnati, Ohio - started 1 game at tight end
- Mike Smith, tailback, senior, Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Rickey Blake, tailback, sophomore, Chicago,Illinois
- Curt Stephenson, wide receiver, senior, La Jolla, California
- Gerry Szara, offensive guard, senior, Oak Lawn, Illin, wide receive, senior, Cincinnati, Ohio - started all 12 games at wide receiver
- John Anderson, defensive end, senior, Waukesha, Wisconsin - started all 12 games at outside linebacker
- Gene Bell, wolf, sophomore, East Liverpool, Ohio
- Mark Braman, defensive halfback, junior, Midland, Michigan
- Woody Brown, safety, senior, East Detroit, Michigan
- Andy Cannavino, inside linebacker, freshman, Cleveland, Ohio
- Mark DeSantis, outside linebacker, junior, Harper Woods, Michigan
- Chris Godfrey, defensive tackle, sophomore, Detroit, Michigan - started 5 games at defensive tackle
- Steve Graves, middle guard, senior, Cleveland, Ohio - started all 12 games at middle guard
- Curtis Greer, defensive tackle, junior, Detroit, Michigan - started 9 games at defensive tackle
- Mike Harden, defensive halfback, sophomore, Detroit, Michigan - started 1 game at weak-side cornerback, 1 game at safety
- Dave Harding, ILS, senior, Northville, Michigan
- Dwight Hicks, wolf, senior, Pennsauken, New Jersey - started 11 games at wolfman
- Robert K. Holloway, outside linebacker, junior, West Bloomfield, Michigan
- Derek Howard, wolf, senior, Hamilton, Ohio - started all 12 games (10 at strong-side cornerback, 1 at wolfman, 1 at safety)
- William Jackson, defensive tackle, junior, Richmond, Virginia - started 1 game at defensive tackle
- Raymond J. Johnson, defensive halfback, senior, Gary, Indiana
- Mike Jolly, defensive halfback, sophomore, Melvindale, Michigan - started 11 games at weak-side cornerback
- Dave Keitz, defensive tackle, junior, Columbus, Ohio - started 9 games at defensive tackle
- Thomas A. Melita, middle guard, junior, Penns Grove, New Jersey
- Jerry Meter, inside linebacker, junior, Birmingham, Michigan - started all 12 games at inside linebacker
- Mel Owens, inside linebacker, sophomore, DeKalb, Illinois - started 1 game at inside linebacker
- Robert M. Patek, wolf, junior, Farmington Hills, Michigan
- Jim Pickens, defensive halfback, senior, Sylvania, Ohio - started all 12 games (10 at safety, 2 at strong-side cornerback)
- Tom Seabron, outside linebacker, junior, Detroit, Michigan
- Ron Simpkins, inside linebacker, sophomore, Detroit, Michigan - started 11 games at inside linebacker
- Dominic Tedesco, outside linebacker, senior, Riverside, Illinois - started all 12 games at outside linebacker
- Mike Trgovac, middle guard, freshman, Austintown, Ohio
- Nick Labun, place-kicker, senior, Rockford, Illinois
- Bryan Virgil, place-kicker, sophomore, Buchanan, Michigan
- Greg Willner, place-kicker, junior, Miami Beach, Florida
- All-Americans: Mark Donahue, John Anderson, Walt Downing
- All-Conference: Mark Donahue, Walt Downing, Rick Leach, John Anderson, Mike Kenn, Dwight Hicks, Jim Pickens
- Most Valuable Player: Russell Davis
- Meyer Morton Award: John Anderson
- Frederick Matthei Award: Jerry Meter
- Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award: John Anderson
- John Maulbetsch Award: Ron Simpkins
- Head coach: Bo Schembechler
- Assistant coaches: Dennis Brown - Defensive Ends, Tirrel Burton - Offensive Ends, Jerry Hanlon - Offensive Line, Jack Harbaugh - Defensive Backs, Bill McCartney - Defensive Coordinator, Don Nehlen - Offensive Backs, Tom Reed - Defensive Assistant, Paul Schudel - Offensive Interior Line
- Trainer: Lindsy McLean
- Manager: Donald G. Di Paolo
- "1977 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
- "1977 Michigan Wolverines Stats". SR College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
- Bill Flick (September 11, 1977). "Mo vs. Bo show yields few surprises in end". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
- Curt Sylvester (September 11, 1977). "What Big Test? It's U-M, 37-9". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1E, 4E.
- Curt Sylvester (September 18, 1977). "U-M Bungles Way Past Duke, 21-9". Detroit Free Press. p. 1E, 4E.
- Curt Sylvester (September 25, 1977). "Rough Seas: 'M' 14, Navy 7". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1E, 4E.
- Curt Sylvester (October 2, 1937). "That's More Like It! U-M Rips Texas A&M, 41-3". Detroit Free Press. p. 1E, 4E.
- Joe Falls (October 2, 1977). "Bo Finally Cut His Players Loose". Detroit Free Press. p. 1E.
- Charlie Vincent (October 9, 1977). "U-M Struggles, 24-14". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1E, 4E.
- Curt Sylvester (October 16, 1977). "U-M Clips Badger Streak With a 56-0 TD Barrage". Detroit Free Press. p. 1D, 4D.
- Curt Sylvester (October 23, 1977). "It's Goodby [sic] No. 1, Perfect Season And Brown Jug! U-M Flops, 16-0". Detroit Free Press. p. 1E, 5E.
- Curt Sylvester (October 30, 1977). "U-M Back in Groove, 23-6: Leach Destroys Iowa". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1E, 5E.
- Curt Sylvester (November 6, 1977). "U-M Finally Has Laugher! Skins Tame Cats, 63-20". Detroit Free Press. p. 1D, 8D.
- "Michigan gets revenge and ready, 40-7." Eugene Register-Guard. 1977 Nov 13.
- Palm Beach Post. 1977 Nov 20.