It is approaching a week since Michigan Wolverine fans experienced its team’s greatest comeback in the Jim Harbaugh era. Down 10 points entering the second half, the Wolverines stormed back to score 13 unanswered points to defeat Northwestern 20-17. Not only does it demonstrate the Wolverines resiliency in completing this comeback but it keeps them alive in being the Big Ten representative in the College Football Playoff.
“I thought the entire team did what they needed to do to win, and had the talent to do it and got it done,” Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference.
The Wolverines have been involved in epic comebacks in their illustrious past. Here are my top Five comebacks in Michigan Wolverines history.
Top Five Michigan Wolverines Comebacks
#5. Michigan vs. Virginia (1995)
It is 1995 and Michigan’s home opener. Lloyd Carr is coaching the Wolverines in his first career game with the team. He never would have imagined that his team would be down 17 in front of the raucous Wolverines fans in the Big House.
Freshman quarterback Scott Dreisbach came into the game to take over for Todd Collins. What would happen next would be etched into Michigan lore forever. Dreisbach would score in his final three possessions, including a 16 play, 80-yard drive at the end of the game. In the last play of the game, the young quarterback made an incredible pass to Mercury Hayes to complete the comeback, giving Michigan the 18-17 win.
“There were four seconds left and I knew I had to put the ball in the end zone, especially because the linemen were yelling at me to throw the ball in the end zone,” Dreisbach said. “I was going to go to Amani Toomer, but Virginia rotated the coverage. So, I looked across to Mercury Hayes and he was wide open.”
#4. Michigan vs. Michigan State (2004)
The Michigan/Michigan State rivalry always produces thrilling entertainment. This game was no exception. College Football pundits knew Braylon Edwards was a rising star wide receiver. But this game would elevate him into the conversation as one of Michigan’s best receivers of all-time.
With 8:43 minutes to go, the Wolverines were down 27-10 to the Spartans. Cue the Braylon Edwards show. The 46-yard reception got Michigan a much-needed field goal. Then, Edwards caught a 36-yard fade for a touchdown, bringing Michigan only within seven points of Michigan State. With the game creeping under two minutes, Michigan quarterback Chad Henne would throw a deep ball to the corner of the end zone, as Edwards jumped and completed an unbelievable touchdown catch to tie the game.
The game would last three overtimes, as the two Michigan powerhouse schools went back and forth. But in triple overtime, it would be Edwards to get the game-winning touchdown, capping off an incredible 17-point comeback. To Michigan fans, this game will be forever known as “Braylonfest” but it is also one of the best comebacks in Wolverines history.
#3. Michigan vs. Alabama (2000 Orange Bowl)
Michigan’s comebacks were not just during the regular season. They also occurred in a marquee Orange Bowl game against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Tom Brady would show glimpses of his legendary aura as the Wolverines quarterback erased two 14-point deficits. Down 28-14 in the second half, Brady made a beautiful pass to David Terrell for a 20-yard touchdown play. The Wolverines would end up tying the game 28-28 as a result of a three-yard run from Michigan running back Anthony Thomas.
Brady fanatics would see the young quarterback’s heroics continue in sudden death overtime. His 25-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Thompson, coupled with a missed Alabama Field Goal, would give Michigan another Bowl championship to add to its trophy case. It would also cement Tom Brady as a comeback king even before he arrived in Foxborough.
#2. Michigan vs. Iowa (1997)
Yes, we did put this game at number two. It often gets overlooked because the opponent doesn’t have the same panache as an Ohio State or Michigan State. But this comeback from Michigan is still equally as epic.
Down 21-7 at the half, the Wolverines relied on quarterback Brian Griese to lead them back in this game. However, Michigan was having tremendous difficulty dealing with Iowa kick off return man Tim Dwight, who had four returns of longer than 50 yards.
Griese tied the game as the third quarter was winding down. But the Hawkeyes quickly retook the lead after an early 4th quarter field goal. However, it would be the Iowa defense who could not stop the high powered offense of the Wolverines. Griese connected with his favorite target Jerame Tuman, capping off a game-winning drive that saw the Wolverines remain undefeated in the Big Ten.
#1. Michigan vs. Minnesota (2003)
It is no surprise that Michigan’s largest comeback deficit would be their most epic come from behind performance. It seemed for the longest time that Minnesota would have this upset locked in the bag. But Michigan never gave up, conquering adversity to come out on top in the end.
Down 28-7, John Navarre would go on and complete one of his best performances ever as Michigan quarterback. Throwing for 353 yards, two touchdowns and a receiving touchdown, Navarre clawed the Wolverines back in the game, generating 14 points to put them down seven points 28-21.
But when Minnesota retook a 14 point lead 35-21, Wolverine fans believed that there was no hope of a comeback. This Michigan offence had other plans. 17 unanswered points later, capped off with a deep 52-yard touchdown pass from Navarre to Braylon Edwards, the Wolverines completed their largest comeback in school history. Chris Perry, Michigan’s running back, would finish the day with 207 yards of total offence and Edwards would get 93 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The Michigan players believed and the comeback was completed. It would go down forever in Wolverines history as one of the most epic college football performances.