Neither Desmond Howard nor Ted Ginn Jr realized the impact at the time, but the profits have lived on forever in Michigan-Ohio State lore.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Howard’s special moment – a 93-yard baseball comeback in the match 31-3 on 23 November 1991 where the former Michigan legend shot his Heisman shot at Michigan Stadium.
On November 24, 2004, Ginn gave the Buckeyes an answer. He broke through defenders and sped down the line with an 82-yard return in Ohio State’s 37-21 win at Ohio Stadium.
Ginn told Sporting News: “The only thing I was thinking about at the time was to cross the tower and get six.” “Once you really stop and turn around and think, ‘I actually did it,’ then you’ll have six or eight players facing you. That’s the moment you remember.”
Those two plays, which are must-have clips in the montage for The Game, will be refreshed on Saturday when Ohio State No. 2 faces No. 5 Michigan in the latest chapter of the top 10 showdown. of college football.
It’s also a reminder that the game of batting itself can be the decisive game in an opponent’s history. After all, during the famous Snow Bowl on November 25, 1950, the teams banded together to hit 45 shots, and Michigan’s Tony Momsen fell into a blocked position to deliver a 9-time win. 3 for Wolverines.
The 10-year battle between coaches Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler began in earnest with Michigan’s December 24 disappointment on November 22, 1969. Of course, that was brought up with assistance. help of Barry Pierson’s 3-yard return stroke. set a touchdown.
Nearly 50 years later, on November 24, 2018, Sevyn Banks of Ohio State hit back with a 33-yard intercept in a 62-39 win over Michigan, marking the final stretch of Urban Meyer’s seven years of dominance. for werewolves.
However, no two comebacks have resonated more than Howard and Ginn, a pair of Cleveland natives linked by those incredible moments. Howard knows how important a particular team’s play can change everything now.
“At the time, you would never have imagined it. You’re just in the present moment,” Howard told SN. “You’re trying to make something happen. I got into the flow of the game, trying to do something to get my team through.”
Howard had an incredible season in 1991. He made “The Catch” in front of Notre Dame. The Wolverines were looking to win the Big Ten championship, and Howard’s flair at the crucial moment made him Heisman’s favorite.
Howard also had plans for a late zone celebration with the Buckeyes.
“I really wanted to do a backflip,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been training for. I’m dating a gymnast, and she taught me how to do the upside down. I said, ‘If I go out on the field and nobody’s around. within 8 to 10 yards from me. , I’ll stop at the line and do a backflip into the back yard.”
Michigan led Ohio State 17-3 in the first half of that 1991 game, and Howard stood at the 10-yard line waiting for Tim Williams to score. Howard told SN that he wasn’t even allowed to hit the ball.
“It’s one of those games that I can play in an impactful way,” says Howard. “I rolled the dice and took the opportunity.”
Howard conceded a defender, cut two more and drifted to the side before sprinting to the end of the field. Of course, the split-second decision to do “Heisman pose” is what people on both sides of the aisle remember most.
It was the last-second call from Howard, who told SN that he considered doing a backflip that he had been practicing leading up to The Game.
“I’m talking to myself,” Howard said. “I can get to the 12 or 11 yard line, I’m like, ‘You know what. I do this and mess up, I messed up on SportsCenter, I crossed the line and naturally did it. It like , ‘Boom.’
Howard made the right decision. “Heisman Pose” has continued to be in sync with the call of legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson in the more than three decades since.
“You couldn’t have scripted it better,” Howard said. “The timing of everything. Keith Jackson is making the moves I’m making, then he’s lying down and just letting the moment build. Then when I cross the line he hits you. with the sentence, ‘Hello Heisman!’ Come on. Pick a director or a producer. No one could have written it better than the way it played out that afternoon.”
The nearly identical sequel came out on November 22, 1997, when Michigan’s Charles Woodson hit 78 yards for touchdown in the Wolverines 20-14 win. Woodson also won the Heisman Trophy, and the Michigan AP National Championships.
Those were the two bright spots of the 1988-2000 era, in which Michigan dominated Ohio State with a 10-2-1 record in the John Cooper era.
However, Ohio State’s Jim Tressel was hired after the 2000 season, and one of his prized early recruits was a Cleveland native who knew the Howard legend well.
‘This baby is over’
Ted Ginn Jr was just 6 years old when Howard played Ohio State. Ginn, like Howard, grew up on the east side of Cleveland.
When Ginn was working at youth football level, the Desmond Howard Saints were the team to beat.
“Everybody wants to be Desmond,” Ginn said. “The ’21’ has always stood out. I definitely knew about his comeback as a kid.”
Ginn rose to prominence as a five-star recording and music star at Cleveland Glenville High School and was part of Tressel’s full-blown recruiting class in 2004.
Tressel then changed the tune of the Ohio State vs Michigan rivalry by leading Ohio State to the national championship in 2002. Michigan responded with a Big Ten title the following season and is seeking to restore order with a victory in Columbus, Ohio, on November 20, 2004.
Ohio State took a 20-14 lead in the third quarter, and Ginn is still raving about his previous return to punt, which he nearly scored but tripped.
Like Howard, Ginn wasn’t even sure he would join the fight because Santonio Holmes was back to make a comeback.
“It was one of those dead zones in between the two of us, where I didn’t know if I should say ‘You’ and he didn’t say ‘I’,” said Ginn. ‘don’t hurt us. “
Ginn made the ball, swerving past one defender and then another before following the familiar path to the sideline. Ginn numbered next, and Michigan chess player Adam Finley had no chance. This time, ABC broadcaster Brent Musburger took the call and just said, “Forget about it. This baby’s over, this race.”
“A couple of guys were there, but I just moved,” Ginn said. “When I go out, I see the light of day. Then no one will catch me.”
It was Ginn’s fourth return to TD of the season, and it was the exclamation point in Ohio State’s 37-21 win. Howard also remembers seeing the play.
Howard said: “He was actually a kid from Cleveland, Ohio who attended Glenville High School; I also know very well about his achievements. “He’s a dynamic player. He’s too fast.”
The Buckeyes have dominated The Game ever since. Ginn was a junior in the #1 vs. 2 game that Ohio State won 42-39 on November 18, 2006. The Buckeyes are 15-1 against the Wolverines since 2004, and Ginn’s return plays a role. is the same flash point .
“We are ‘Fun Bunch’,” said Ginn. “We started it. That’s what we were at the time. We didn’t do anything but play. At the time, I didn’t know how big the competition was. I just playing in a soccer game.”
Howard and Ginn used their back-to-back skills in successful NFL careers.
Howard returned eight pitches for the TDs from 1992-2002 and won the Super Bowl XXXI MVP title with the Green Bay Packers after the second leg of a 99-yard warm-up for a TD. Ginn has made seven TD comebacks in a career spanning 2007-2020.
Now retired, Ginn Jr runs the Ginn Elite youth soccer program in Cleveland. With each passing year, appreciation for the competition continues to grow.
“Years went by and after I did what I did, I started to understand that was the reason for it,” Ginn said.
Now, the Wolverines and Buckeyes continue that rivalry. Will a racer perhaps spin what should be another classic between the Big Ten rivals?
“Everytime,” said Ginn. “Special teams and big matches. That’s what you’re looking for in a game like this.”
Ohio State has brought back reception stars Garrett Wilson and Jackson Smith-Njigba this year, and Michigan has someone returning AJ Henning and perhaps Blake Corum if he returns from a leg injury. Henning kicks back 81 yards for a touchdown in a trick game against Maryland in Week 12.
In a top 10 tie-up looking to qualify for the College Football Knockout Qualifiers, perhaps a comeback could provide the next turning point.
Howard, who has been an analyst for ESPN’s “College GameDay” since 2005, will reminisce about his Heisman moment this weekend. He can’t help but wonder if another special moment is coming.
“I can (see particular teams become important) from the simple fact that position on the field will matter if nothing else,” Howard said. “It’s hard to get a point in a game of this caliber between two big teams. I can certainly see particular teams play a big part in the outcome of the game.”