A historical look at 5 memorable Michigan football games vs. SEC opponents
Most of those games, in recent years anyway, have come via a bowl atmosphere at the end of the year. But a handful, like No. 8 Michigan's tilt Saturday (8 p.m., ABC) against No. 2 Alabama in Arlington, Texas, have occurred during the regular season.
In total, Michigan has played 11 different SEC teams in its now 133-year history, and heading into this weekend, the Wolverines have a sparkling 12-5 record. In its last 10 meetings against schools from the SEC, the Wolverines are 7-3.
On Saturday, though, Michigan will face its toughest southeast test (on paper, at least) to date when it takes on No. 2 Alabama, Michigan's highest-ranked SEC opponent ever.
There have been plenty of memorable north-south battles over the years, but here's a look back at a few that stand out.
No. 8 Michigan 35, No. 5 Alabama 34 (OT)
2000 Orange Bowl
Jan. 1, 2000 (Miami)
Tom Brady's most memorable Michigan football moment earned the Wolverines their first ever BCS bowl appearance and victory.
The first overtime game in BCS history, Brady finished the game 34-for-46 for 369 yards and four touchdowns. His combined performance, along with a stellar day from receiver David Terrell, wasn't enough in regulation -- as a Shaun Alexander-led Alabama squad eventually played Michigan into an overtime session.
Brady hit tight end Shawn Thompson for a 25-yard touchdown pass on Michigan's first play from scrimmage. But it was Hayden Epstein's ensuing extra point that proved to be the game's biggest play.
The Crimson Tide scored on the second play of their first possession when Andrew Zow found Antonio Carter in the endzone. But kicker Ryan Pflugner would send Michigan home with a bucket full of oranges when he pushed his extra point attempt wide right.
No. 3 Auburn 9, No. 8 Michigan 7
1984 Sugar Bowl
Jan. 2, 1984 (New Orleans)
But it turned into Al Del Greco vs. -- well, Al Del Greco.
The Auburn kicker and future NFL standout booted three field goals, including a 19-yard chip shot with 23 seconds to play to push Auburn in front for good and break Michigan's heart in the process.
For their part, Schembechler and Jackson lived up to their billing. Schembechler's defense kept Alabama without a touchdown all game long, while Jackson led an Auburn rushing attack that racked up 301 yards on the ground.
The loss was Michigan's third of the season -- and almost all of them came in heartbreaking fashion. The Wolverines, who finished 9-3 (second in the Big Ten), lost those three games by a combined 13 points.
Michigan 28, Alabama 24
1988 Hall of Fame Bowl
Jan. 2, 1988 (Tampa, Fla.)
A season that went down as disappointing for both Alabama and Michigan ended with a bang, and a Wolverine victory.
After quarterbacking Michigan to tough, narrow losses against Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana -- which featured a seven-interception performance against MSU -- Demetrius Brown was well on his way to another shaky outing against Alabama in the Hall of Fame Bowl.
Playing without coach Bo Schembechler, who didn't make the trip due to heart surgery, Brown had thrown for just 21 yards in the game's first 55 minutes.
But no one remembers that now. The only thing people likely remember from that game is Brown's picture-perfect 20-yard touchdown pass to John Kolesar with just 48 seconds to play, putting Michigan in front for good at 28-24.
The pass came on a 4th-and-3 play, a gamble called by acting head coach Gary Moeller.
Four years later, Moeller -- now the full-time head coach -- made another fourth-down gamble, allowing Elvis Grbac to hit a streaking Desmond Howard for a diving touchdown against Notre Dame in 1991.
Michigan 41, No. 9 Florida 35
2008 Capital One Bowl
Jan. 1, 2008 (Orlando, Fla.)
Lloyd Carr's final game.
After beginning the year with a horrifying loss to Appalachian State, followed by a thorough beating by Oregon, Michigan found a way to send Carr off into the sunset with one final positive memory.
The game -- which indeed served as the end of an era -- also marked the final appearance by Michigan stars Jake Long, Mike Hart and Chad Henne.
With soon-to-be coach Rich Rodriguez watching from the sidelines, Henne's 18-yard touchdown pass to Adrian Arrington with less than five minutes to go gave Michigan a 38-35 edge late.
The Michigan defense then forced eight straight Tim Tebow incompletions to close the game, and K.C. Lopata added a field goal to give the Wolverines the six-point edge.
The game served as the final bowl appearance in Michigan's 33-year bowl appearance streak, as Rodriguez failed to get the Wolverines to the postseason in both 2008 and 2009.
2011 Gator Bowl
Jan. 1, 2011 (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Rich Rodriguez's last game.
After scrapping and clawing to reach bowl eligibility for the first time during Rodriguez's three-year tenure, the Wolverines were rewarded with their worst bowl-game loss in school history.
"They made plays and we didn't," Rodriguez said afterward. “They tackled better than us. They caught better than us. They ran better than us, and that’s unfortunate.”
The defense was miserable. The special teams were just about as bad. And five days later, Rodriguez was fired.
He finished his career 15-22, 6-18 in Big Ten play.
In his first season as head coach, Brady Hoke equalled Rodriguez's career Big Ten victory total.