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One for the Millennium: An oral history of the 2000 Orange Bowl

By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published August 31, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas — Twelve years seems a lifetime.

On the eve of the Cowboys Classic, think 12 years back to the 2000 Orange Bowl — the last matchup between Alabama and Michigan. The game pitted the eighth-ranked Wolverines against No. 6 Alabama at Pro Player Stadium in Miami.

Today, most of the members of Michigan’s ‘Team 120’ don’t remember the last play of regulation, don’t know that the Orange Bowl was the first overtime game in Michigan history or that Tom Brady was taken out of the game. They remember the final score and the men they played alongside.

“Amazing,” said senior linebacker Ian Gold as he trotted off the field that night. “That was the best ending to a football game ever.”

Six former Michigan players —Gold, David Terrell, Bennie Joppru, Aaron Shea, Drew Henson and Jason Kapsner — and then-defensive line coach Brady Hoke rehashed their Orange Bowl memories for the Daily this month.


DECEMBER 31, 1999

David Terrell, sophomore receiver: “It was the scariest night of my life.”

“Y2K, man. You had everyone go out and get canned goods, bottled water. I didn’t even know the world was going to be here in the morning when I got up.”

Jason Kapsner, senior quarterback: “We all went to bed thinking, ‘Man, are we going to play tomorrow?’ The whole world was freaking out.”

Terrell: “Lloyd told all of us, ‘Go to sleep. You’re going to wake up in the morning, it’s going to be 2000, and we’re going to go out there and play a great football game.’ ”

Bennie Joppru, freshman tight end: “They took the team to a completely different hotel the day before the game. When midnight struck there were guys running around the courtyard yelling ‘Y2K! Y2K!’ and messing around and having fun with it. The coaches came out yelling, ‘Get back in your rooms!’ ”


JANUARY 1, 2000

Brad Nessler, ABC announcer: “Schools of tradition: Michigan, the winningest program of the past century, Hail to Bo, the Victors, and the Maize and Blue; Alabama, the Bear, the All-Americans, the pride of the South. The dawning of the new century brings free faces and new heroes.

“Alabama and Michigan, set to light up the night at the 66th FedEx Orange Bowl.”

Ian Gold, senior linebacker: “Everybody doubted us. Nobody believed that we could win except for us.

“I remember my freshman year going out to the Outback Bowl and losing to Alabama. All I remember was, ‘Roll Tide, Roll Tide.’ Everybody in my class had extra motivation. I was looking forward to this opportunity to make amends for what had happened four years prior.”


FIRST QUARTER

Joppru: “It was just a struggle. We would make some ground up and then give it back. Just a back-and-forth battle. They’d kick us in the mouth, we’d get back up, they’d kick us in the mouth again.”

“Who is the tougher team here? We’re going to find out in the first couple series and feel each other out. It came down to which coach could figure it out the fastest.”

• 13:21 — Alabama quarterback Anthony Zow overthrows a pass left to Jason McAddley, incomplete •

Nessler: “On the first snap, a quick slant and a man wide open! Jason McAddley would have been off to the races, a blown coverage by Michigan.”

Ian Gold, senior linebacker: “From a defensive standpoint, my mindset was this: If we let (Alabama running back) Shaun Alexander get started, it’s going to be a long game. It’s kind of how we approached (Wisconsin running back) Ron Dayne — you can’t let him get momentum.”

“The more he got warmed up and got his legs under him, we had a tough time.”

• 12:41 — Zow throws a screen left to wide reciever Antonio Carter for -4 yards •

Nessler: “Dropped in his tracks is Antonio Carter by Dhani Jones. Alabama, likewise, loses five and goes three-and-out.”

Brady Hoke, defensive line coach: “The guys up front for us — James Hall, Rob Renes, Josh Williams, Eric Wilson — they played their hearts out.”

Drew Henson, sophomore quarterback: “Alabama had a heck of a team that year.


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