1997 Michigan/Nebraska


This article does a good job of pointing out why Nebraska was more deserving of the 1997 NC.   This was written after the Rose Bowl and prior to the Orange Bowl, by a sports writer who got it right.  Bottom line - Michigan beat Washington State and Ryan Leaf by 5, Nebraska beat Tennessee and Peyton Manning by 25.

With one more win, Nebraska deserves national title

(c) 1998 Copyright Nando.net

1998 Scripps Howard

MIAMI (Jan 2, 1998 - 05:12 EST) -- If Nebraska beats Tennessee in the Orange Bowl by the margin the odds makers say it should, then the Cornhuskers should win the national championship. They wont, but they should.

Too many voters are too reluctant to drop a winning team. And that's unfortunate for Nebraska.

In voting unbeaten Michigan over unbeaten Nebraska for the last third of the season, I based that first-place vote, in part, on Michigan's tougher schedule. The bowl games have changed my perspective.

The Big Ten was overrated. That became more evident with every bowl game: Michigan State lost to Washington 51-23. Iowa lost to Arizona State 17-7. Wisconsin lost to Georgia 33-6. Penn State lost to Florida 21-6. Ohio State lost to Florida State 31-14. Purdue, which Michigan didn't play, was the only other Big Ten winner (33-20 over Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl).

Michigan's opponents, five Big Ten teams and Notre Dame, went 0-6 in the bowls.

Nebraska's opponents went 2-2 in the bowls. Washington and Kansas State won; Missouri and Texas A&M lost.

Here's what I jotted down on a notepad after Michigan's 21-16 Rose Bowl victory over Washington State: Records: If Nebraska beats UT in the Orange Bowl, it will be 13-0. Michigan is 12-0.

Opponents: If Nebraska beats UT, its opponents record will be 76-74; Michigan's opponents are 74-67.

Dominance: Nebraska outscored its opponents by 30.7 points per game; Michigan outscored its opponents by 17 points per game.

More dominance: Nebraska outscored its opponents with winning records by 23.6. Michigan outscored its opponents with winning records by 10.8 points.

It's too easy to say Michigan was No. 1 and won its game, so it should stay No. 1. That's not the way the system is supposed to work. Our archaic method of choosing a college football champion is based on style points. Nebraska lost style points because it beat Missouri in overtime and beat Colorado by three after leading by 17 late in the game.

However, against good teams, Nebraska, not Michigan, has been more stylish. The Cornhuskers beat 11-1 Kansas State by 30 points. They beat Washington by 13. They beat Texas A&M by 39 points just three weeks ago.

In Thursday's Cotton Bowl, those same Aggies almost upset a UCLA team that had won nine consecutive games. Don't forget that Michigan only beat Notre Dame by seven points, Iowa by four and Wisconsin by 10. Its most-convincing victory was against Penn State, which for much of the year was the most-overrated team in the country.

Michigan deserves tremendous credit for an unbeaten season. But if Nebraska plays well in beating Tennessee, it deserves the national championship.

By JOHN ADAMS, Scripps Howard News Service


In Addition

Michigan  average score - 26.8 -  9.5                                                                                                                           
Nebraska average score - 46.7 - 16.5
Michigan opponents ranked in final polls - 3 - at #s 9,12,16 (AP)                                                                                  
Nebraska opponents ranked in final polls - 5 - at #s 7, 8, 18, 20, 23 (AP)


1997 Nebraska vs Missouri - Matt Davisons catch

Frank Gaines,  technical adviser to Big 12 football officials, said an incidental or accidental kick is not a penalty. He said when the play is questionable - as was the case for Wiggins's kick - the ruling is always that such a kick is accidental.

Wiggins had no idea a NU reciever would be behind him - Matt Davisons pass route on the play took him to the other side of the field.  He just ran to the play when he saw the ball going away from him.

In order for the play/kick to be illegal, the official would have to be certain that the player was intentionally kicking the ball to a teammate.  Any doubt and it is a legal play. 

Both the Big 12 head of officals and the NCAA head of officials stated that the play had been called correctly
 If Wiggins arms had not been pinned at his side by the Missouri DB, he probably would have caught the ball in the first place.


Sympathy Vote??

Yeah, I agree there was a sympathy vote in the 1997 National Championship.  Michigan had not won a NC since 1948 and a Big 10 team had not won one since 1968, so yes I think there was a sympathy vote for Michigan.   Not for the coach who had just won 2 National Championships in the last 3 years, or a football program who had won 4 since the last time Michigan or a Big 10 team had won any. (AP & Coaches Polls).  There was also another article that showed Michigan getting much more support in the AP poll from writers Big 10 areas than the rest of the country.


Dennis Claridge passes to Jim Huge in NUs 1962, 25-13 win over Michigan in the Big House