Best Bookend Regular Seasons For Michigan Football
1) 1995: Virginia and Ohio State - Michigan began the season rallying from a 17-0 third-quarter deficit to beat the 17th-ranked Cavaliers 18-17, earning Lloyd Carr his first career victory (his interim tag was removed in November).
U-M finished the regular season with one of its biggest upsets ever of Ohio State, topping the No. 2 Buckeyes - Michigan was ranked 18th - 31-23 behind 313 yards rushing from tailback Tshimanga Biakabutuka (only the second 300-yard ground-game performance in program history).
2) 1997: Colorado and Ohio State - After four four-loss seasons, Michigan was called out for its "mediocrity" by The Sporting News. The No. 14 Maize and Blue opened the season at home against an eighth-ranked Colorado team that was billed as a possible national title contender. Behind a dominant defensive performance, the Wolverines blitzed the Buffaloes 27-3, jumping six spots in the polls and announcing to the nation they were back.
Michigan capped its undefeated regular season with a 20-14 victory over No. 4 Ohio State, Charles Woodson cementing his Heisman bid with a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown. The No. 1-ranked Wolverines would, of course, go on to win the national title after a Rose Bowl win over Washington State.
3) 1985: Notre Dame and Ohio State - Following a 6-6 1984 campaign, Michigan began the 1985 season unranked but that quickly changed after a 20-12 upset of No. 13 Notre Dame at The Big House.
Like all of these great regular seasons, U-M finished the job by defeating rival Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh had, arguably, the finest passing performance of his career, completing 16 of 19 attempts for 230 yards and three touchdowns as the sixth-ranked Wolverines handed No. 12 OSU a 27-17 defeat.
4) 1999: Notre Dame and Ohio State - Tom Brady's first meetings with ND and OSU did not go so well, Michigan losing to both rivals in 1998. Brady and the Wolverines got revenge a year later. In the opener, the seventh-ranked Maize and Blue scored a 26-22 win over No. 16 Notre Dame, tailback Anthony Thomas punching in the winning TD with just 1:38 remaining in the contest.
Thomas scored again in the regular-season finale against unranked Ohio State, but this time Brady was the star, throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Marquise Walker with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter, on a day he completed 53.0% of his attempts and rallied Michigan from a 17-10 second-half deficit.
5) 1986: Notre Dame and Hawaii (Ohio State) - A bit of a unusual circumstance as Michigan finished its regular season in paradise (U-M also did so in 1998) so, technically, the 27-10 victory in Hawaii capped the regular season, but that came two weeks after Harbaugh had made his infamous guarantee of a win over the Buckeyes and delivered a 26-24 victory against No. 7 Ohio State in Columbus.
The season began with a narrow 24-23 'W' in South Bend, marking only the second time in program history (1978 the other) Michigan has earned road victories at Notre Dame and Ohio State in the same campaign.