Both seen as College Football Playoff contenders entering 2022, Michigan and Texas A&M have met just three times. The most significant matchup — at least on paper — came on this day 45 years ago.
In a top-5 matchup in front of nearly 105,000 fans, the third-ranked Wolverines dominated the second half. Michigan scored the final 41 points in a 41-3 drubbing of No. 5 Texas A&M.
Setting the Stage
Ranked No. 3 in the country, Michigan was 3-0 and had held its first three opponents to just 25 total points. The Wolverines had ascended to No. 1, but fell two spots after a hard-fought 14-7 win over Navy to close September.
Under sixth-year head coach Emory Bellard, Texas A&M was also 3-0 as it arrived in Ann Arbor on Oct. 1, 1977. Ranked fifth in the country, the Aggies were coming off an impressive 33-17 road win over No. 7 Texas Tech.
For a half, the teams combined for just one touchdown. Texas A&M drew first blood with a field goal, but Russell Davis’ 4-yard touchdown run gave Michigan a 7-3 halftime lead. In the second half, the Wolverines turned a defensive struggle into a rout.
Michigan scored in all three phases of the game in the second half. The Aggies outrushed Michigan, but could get nothing going through the air. Texas A&M wound up committing five turnovers.
In the third quarter, Davis rushed for his second score before quarterback Rick Leach connected with Curt Stephenson for a 35-yard touchdown. In the fourth quarter, the floodgates opened up.
Harlan Huckleby scored the game’s final offensive touchdown to push the lead to 27-3. Following a blocked punt that was recovered by Jim Pickens in the end zone, Mike Jolly returned an interception 50 yards for a score.
Davis rushed for 110 yards to lead the Michigan offense. Texas A&M’s George Woodard led all rushers with 153 yards on 39 carries, but Aggie quarterbacks combined to go 1-for-10 passing with three yards and two interceptions.
Two weeks after the win over Texas A&M, Michigan would regain the top spot in the polls — only to be shutout by Minnesota. The Wolverines won the rest of their regular season games to claim the Big Ten title and a spot in the Rose Bowl. They would fall to Washington in Pasadena to finish 10-2 and No. 9 in the polls.
Texas A&M went on to finish 8-4 and unranked. All four defeats came to ranked teams. The most lopsided of those defeats came in a top-5 matchup and in front of a record crowd at Michigan Stadium. It came on this day 45 years ago.
Featured photo courtesy of Michigan athletics/Bentley Historical Library