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FROM THE DAILY VAULT — Michigan upsets OSU in famed 1950 'Snow Bowl'

BY DAILY FOOTBALL WRITERS

Published November 16, 2009

In celebration of Michigan-Ohio State Week, we scoured the Daily archives to find game coverage of seminal Michigan wins in the series. Enjoy the Daily's story from the Rose Bowl-clinching 1950 'Snow Bowl,' in which Michigan gained just 27 yards of offense.

COLUMBUS — Michigan’s relentless Wolverines saved the space for another chapter in the rags-to-riches tale that records the activities of the 1950 Maize and Blue gridiron squad, by beating Ohio State’s Buckeyes in a blizzard here yesterday.

By plowing through the foot of snow which blanketed the playing field to upset the Buckeyes, 9-3, the Wolverines earned the right to represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl next January first. An assist on the play was credited to the wondrous Wildcats of Northwestern who forced an overconfident Illinois team to cancel westward travel reservations by beating the Illini 14-7 in Evanston.

While the Conference Championship does not itself ensure the Wolverines a trip to the Rose Bowl, the official Big Ten poll Monday which will pick the Western Conference’s Pasadena representative was regarded as a mere formality.

Michigan’s big break came in the waning minutes of the first half, with the snow-covered scoreboard reading: time to play: 47 seconds: and the Bucks’ one-man team, Vic Janowicz, back on his own two-yard line for a third down punt. At that point, Wolverine linebacker Tony Momsen crashed through the middle of the OSU line, blocked Janowicz’ effort and fell on the ball in the end zone to score the game’s only touchdown.

With 20 seconds remaining in the first half, Harry Allis converted successfully, making it 9 to 3, and ending the scoring for the afternoon.

Earlier, Michigan had scored two points on a similar blocked punt which resulted in a safety.

In tallying the safety it was Michigan’s captain Al Wahl, who crashed into Janowicz’ well-exercised kicking leg. The ball bounced erratically to the right of the onrushing Maize and Blue linemen and was floundering less than a foot outside the end zoneborder when speedy Al Jackson caught up with it. Six inches closer and the Wolverines could have added six more points.

The Bucks opened and closed their part of the scoring when Janowicz sent a 40-yard field goal through the uprights with 4:08 clocked out of the first period to give his team a short-lived 3-0 lead.

The Wolverines earned their nine points without the aid of a single first down and by gaining only 27 net yards, all of them on the ground. Ohio registered only three first downs and 41 net yards, 25 of which were due to Janowicz’ passing.

It was a game of football in the literal sense. Michigan’s Chuck Ortmann booting the ball 24 times for a 30-yard average. The versatile Janowicz handled all the punting shores for Ohio, his kicks averaging 32 yards in the ceiling zero blizzard.

Western Conference records were shattered by the total of 45 punts, with Michigan tying the previous record of most punts by a single team — 14 — in the first half alone.

Exceptional line play was demonstrated by the Wolverines on defense as the Maize and Blue defenders repeatedly refused to be moved, thwarting several touchdown threats by the Buckeyes.

Especially brilliant were the efforts of defensive ends Ozzie Clark and Allis who consistently crashed through the Ohio blockers to bottle up Janowicz’ running and passing.

Center Carl Kreager effectively handled the difficult assignment of passing the icy ball to the backfield. Michigan’s six fumbles being much less than might be expected under such difficult playing conditions.

The Wolverines returned only two of the Ohio punts registering a scant eight yards on the two plays. The pigskin was as slippery as an ice-cube and ball-handling was kept to a minimum.

On most occasions, both Janowicz’ and Ortmann’s kicks came to rest in a foot of snow without bouncing a bit. They landed like horseshoes in a bed of soft clay, making punt returns virtually impossible.

One of the Buckeye junior’s numerous quick-kicks came to rest on the goal line, after giving appearances of heading for the end zone. On the play, the pigskin hit a mound of snow which had been collected by the broomtendors — who were delegated to keep the goal-lines visible and brought frozen spectators to their numb feet as it tottered on the brink of the end zone.

Ortmann, forced to pun from beneath his own goal-post on the next play, got off a game saving boot that put the Buckeyes back on the mid-field stripe.

The big moment of the day came with just 2:17 left in the ball game when the public address system announced the result of the Illinois-Northwestern tussle. Michigan fans all but held their breath for the remainder of the contest hoping their team could preserve its 6 point lead for the final minutes.

The team did, and the fans hoisted Al Wahl on their shoulders in victorious salute to the team.


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