Archie Griffin: Ohio State Buckeyes running back, 1972-75

Courtesy of the Ohio State Alumni Assosciation
Archie Griffin plays against Michigan.

Griffin is still the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in history, winning it in 1974 and 1975. He was also the first to start in four Rose Bowls, and still holds the NCAA record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games, with 31.

In his four years, Ohio State had a 40-5-1 record, including a 3-0-1 record over Michigan.

The Michigan Daily: I’ve read that (legendary Ohio State football coach) Woody Hayes would fire you up on the Monday before you played Michigan by bringing in a former player who had played against Michigan. What was a particularly memorable example of this?

Griffin: During the course of the whole week before the Michigan game, he’d certainly have former players come in and talk with us about their experience with the Michigan game. And the players that he would bring in were pretty emotional about that experience, and it came through when they would talk to the team.

And one particular instance on my first Michigan week that we had happened with a guy by the name of Dave Whitfield (Ohio State defensive end, 1967-69). … He got to talk to the team, and tears were coming out of his eyes.

And I looked around the room and I saw the look on other players’ faces, and I just said, ‘Wow, I mean, this thing is even bigger than I thought. What have I gotten myself into?’ Because it was really an emotional situation, and it was like people were ready to run out that room and play the Michigan game right there on that Monday. And I know that that’s not what Coach Hayes wanted at that time, because he likes to get you up gradually for a game — he don’t want you to be ready to play that game on Monday, he wants you to be ready to play it on Saturday.

But it was very emotional and it gave me a real feel for what the game was all about. Dave Whitfield did that.

The Michigan Daily: In four years, what was your most memorable Michigan-Ohio State game moment?

Griffin: Probably the last one we played at Michigan, 1975, because we were tied for the Big Ten and Michigan had to beat us in order to go to the Rose Bowl. … And they were beating us — they were beating us pretty good. I think they were ahead 14-7 with four minutes to go.

And I’ll never forget at that time … when the offense went out on the field, we thought this might be our last shot. (Ohio State quarterback Cornelius Greene) called the players together and we held hands in the huddle and said a little prayer, and just asked the Lord to give us strength to play the type of football we’re capable of playing.

We went out there and started moving the football. Scored a touchdown, tied it up 14-14. Michigan probably got a little desperate because a tie would have kept us in the Rose Bowl, and they started passing the football and threw an interception to my younger brother, (Ohio State cornerback) Ray (Griffin). And Ray took it down to about the 4- or 5-yard line and we took it over again for another touchdown and we ended up winning the game 21-14.

And that really stands out in my mind, and it shouldn’t stand out in my mind, because I had a streak of 31 straight 100-yard games going on, and Michigan stopped me from getting 100 yards that day. But the fact we won that game trumped the fact that I didn’t get the 100 yards.

When people ask you about the games you played in and whatnot, they don’t usually ask about many of the other schools in the Big Ten. But the one you can be sure that they’re going to ask about is Michigan. How did you do against Michigan?

I’m proud to say that I never lost to Michigan. And that’s something that I say, and I’m very, very proud of that.

Desmond Howard: Michigan wide receiver, 1989-91

How had no one thought to do it sooner?

Desmond Howard, Michigan’s second Heisman Trophy winner, raced up the Ohio State sideline on a punt return during the 1991 edition of The Game. He stood in the end zone and briefly struck the iconic bronze statue’s pose, thus cementing his place in Heisman lore. Howard went on to win the Heisman by the largest margin in history at that time.

In his three years, Michigan had a 29-7 record, including a 3-0 record against Ohio State.

The Michigan Daily: How much did the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry define your playing days? How much of an impact did it have on you as a player?

Desmond Howard: Well, that game was huge. It was the biggest thing in college football for us outside of going to the Rose Bowl, and sometimes maybe even bigger than the Rose Bowl.

It was as big as it gets, especially during the regular season. All eggs were in the basket during that week and during that game. It was as big as it gets, and it was the biggest rivalry in college football, if not all sports.

The Michigan Daily: In four years, what was your most memorable Michigan-Ohio State game moment?

Howard: Well, we never lost to Ohio State. I don’t know what it tastes like to lose to the Buckeyes. I’ve never had any other feeling but happiness after playing Ohio State.

I guess the biggest moment for me was taking the punt return back for the touchdown and striking the Heisman pose. That was probably the biggest moment, because I was so frustrated during the game, because they were committed to not letting me catch a touchdown. They played their safeties so far back and everything. So in an attempt to make a play, I caught the ball when I shouldn’t have caught it, which is inside the 10-yard line, and taking it back for 93 yards for a touchdown. I was just trying to make a play, frustrated, and it worked out for me.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *