Saturday will mark the 69th meeting between Michigan andWisconsin. Those who have just tuned into this rivalry in the last two decades would be surprised to know that Michigan has beaten Wisconsin 51 times. Minus a three-game winning streak from 1959-62 and a few shining moments here and there, the Badgers were perennial doormats to the Wolverines for decades.
Then in 1993, Wisconsin beat Michigan en route to its first Big Ten title in more than 30 years. Since then, the rivalry has become much more competitive with Wisconsin having won three of the last five meetings. It has produced some great football too. Here are the five greatest games of the series and with the exception of one game in the 1980s, you will see that they are all fairly "recent."
5. Michigan 13, Wisconsin 10
Sept. 30, 2000 – Ann Arbor, Mich.
Both teams were ranked in the top 15 coming into this war of attrition. Down 10-6 in the fourth quarter, Michigan quarterback Drew Henson converted two third downs with clutch passes to David Terrell before hitting him in the back of the end zone for the winning score. Wisconsin attempted to tie the game with less than three minutes left, but Vitaly Pisetsky missed a 42-yard field goal. The Wolverines went on to share the Big Ten title that season with Purdue and Northwestern.
4. Wisconsin 13, Michigan 10
Oct. 30, 1993 – Madison, Wis.
With its sights set it on its first Big Ten title since 1962, Wisconsin jumped out a 13-3 lead as running back Brent Moss sprinted into the end zone on the final play of the first half. The Badgers held on to win and a new era of Wisconsin football was born. Sadly, this game is better remembered for the disastrous stampede that took place at Camp Randall Stadium afterwards. In rushing the field, many students were crushed against the stadium fence. Nearly 70 people were injured and universities across the country took note. Students still rush the field on occasion, but it is handled in a much more orderly fashion.
3. Wisconsin 21, Michigan 14
Sept. 12, 1981 – Madison, Wis.
Michigan entered the season ranked No. 1 and was shocked in the opener by the Badgers. Wolverines quarterback Steve Smith had as many interceptions as completions (three apiece), including a final pick in the final seconds to seal the home for Wisconsin. To give you a sense of the one-sidedness of this rivalry at the time, the 21 points marked the first time the Badgers had scored on Michigan since 1976. They had suffered four straight shutouts prior entering this game.
2. Wisconsin, 23, Michigan 20
Sept. 24, 2005 – Madison, Wis.
Michigan took a 13-6 lead into the fourth quarter, but Wisconsin came alive and quickly scored 10 points. The Wolverines took the lead back with a flea flicker by quarterback Chad Henne to wide receiver Mario Manningham making the score 20-16 with nine minutes to go. Wisconsin drove it deep into Michigan territory, putting the Badgers up at the four-yard line with 38 seconds to go. From there, head coach Barry Alvarez shocked the Wolverines, everyone at Camp Randall Stadium and even quarterback John Stocco by calling a quarterback draw. Nevertheless, Stocco took the snap and ran into the end zone with 24 seconds left. The loss knocked Michigan out of the top 25 for the first time since 1998.
1. Michigan 27, Wisconsin 25
Sept. 27, 2008 – Ann Arbor, Mich.
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez and his team were booed as they left the field down 19-0 at the half. The fans at the Big House were then greeted with a seemingly new squad in the second half. The Wolverines scored 27 unanswered points to take an eight-point lead with 5:11 left in the game. Wisconsin came close to sending the game into overtime when quarterback Allen Evridge hit receiver David Gilreath with a 22-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left. Evridge then completed the two-point pass to tight end Travis Beckum, but officials determined that Beckum lined up illegally. The next attempt failed and the dramatic comeback remains one of the few bright spots of the RichRod era for Michigan fans.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)