The thing about the 1966 Michigan football team is … nothing. It wasn’t anything special. At 4-3 in the Big Ten and 6-4 overall, the Wolverines weren’t a poor team that year. They were just nondescript.

That’s what former Michigan halfback Jim Detwiler remembers when he thinks back to his senior season.

But he also remembers how, with a record below .500, Ohio State really wasn’t any better.

So, the 1966 edition of The Game was rather underwhelming for both teams, especially since most players were so used to the rivalry game having higher stakes.

Detwiler had been involved in Ohio Sate games that had postseason implications on the line — the 1964 Michigan-Ohio State game during his sophomore season determined which of the two teams would play in the Rose Bowl.

Michigan beat the Buckeyes that year. But by Nov. 19, 1966, a Rose Bowl berth was out of the question for both teams — pride was the last thing standing.

“Even though there was nothing at stake for our team in ‘66, that did not lessen our intensity for that game,” Detwiler said. “That was still our season, we wanted to win that game. That would make the season a success.”

Detwiler had a career day against the Buckeyes. From the I-formation, he ran the ball 20 times in the first half for 140 yards and one touchdown.

But nothing in his conditioning had prepared him to run so many times. So, as Detwiler spent halftime vomiting and rubber-legged, Michigan coach Bump Elliott informed the media that Detwiler had contracted the flu and was unable to return for the second half.

Teammate Dave Fisher took over the rest of the carries in the final two quarters.

And when Detwiler thinks back to why a mediocre team like Michigan was able to secure a 17-3 win over the Buckeyes, he thinks about people like Fisher stepping in for him.

In fact, he thinks about all his teammates and the special relationship between them.

“The better team does not always win,” Detwiler said. “First of all, you have to have some team chemistry. Michigan’s most talented teams have not been their best teams.

“They’ve got to come together with the right chemistry and play together. Everybody’s got to buy into it. Then you can take a bunch of guys that play well together and beat a more talented team.”

It’s why he thinks anything can happen on the last Saturday in November. It’s why he thinks a win for this Michigan squad, though not probable, shouldn’t be pushed completely out of the picture.

Now, Detwiler seems almost nostalgic for the days when Michigan’s mediocrity didn’t matter to anyone, like in 1966. There was no social media presence constantly pointing out players’ flaws or criticizing coaching decisions.

“There was a sense of sportsmanship, there was a feeling that you may not always win, but if you played your best and did as well as you could, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Detwiler said.

The players were playing for themselves, simply for the love of the game, and that’s why Detwiler can still remember a forgettable 1966.

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