Is Hart Already the Greatest U-M Back Ever?

We THOUGHT that'd get your attention. It's heresy of course -- the youngster only has 10 career starts! But the little waterbug with the big heart also already has more 200 yard games than any RB in U-M history - more than Perry, AT, TD Tim, Wheatley, Vaughn, Wolfolk, Taylor, Johnson. And the question WAS posed by Sam Webb on our radio show today: was Hart's MSU performance U-M's best ever? So, here are the greatest RB games, seasons, and careers in U-M history. Who's the best? YOU be the judge!

As we said, sophomore running back Mike Hart, in just ten starts, has the most 200 games in Wolverine history (4), and he also has the 10th most 100 yard games in his career with 7 (Anthony Thomas holds the record with 22). In a nutshell, Hart is on the road to obliterating all Michigan rushing records. Here are Hart's highlight games thus far.

Mike Hart: 2005

At #11 MSU on Oct. 1, 2005, a 34-31 win for the underdog Wolverines, Mike Hart set the Michigan career record for most 200+ yard games with his 4th (in only his 10th career start), rushing for 220 yards on 36 carries (the 7th most carries ever in a single game for a Wolverine, and certainly the most ever on 'one leg'!), 6.1 yards per carry, including runs of 45 and 66 yards which both led to touchdowns, and one touchdown where he flew over the goal line in an impossible prone position just a mm off the ground.

Mike Hart: 2004

At Illinois on Oct. 16, 2004, a 30-19 victory for #14 Michigan, Hart carried the ball 40 times for 234 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and one TD and caught three passes.

At #12 Purdue on Oct. 23, a 16-14 victory for the #13 Wolverines, Hart rushed for 206 yards on 33 carries (9.3 yards per carry) and caught three passes for 22 yards and a TD for the underdog (#13) Wolverines, scoring the team's only TD against Purdue on a 25 yard screen pass. However, the hero of the game was Ernest Shazor, who caused a Purdue fumble as the Boilermakers were driving for what would've been the winning score at the end of the game.

At the Big House vs. Michigan State on Oct. 30, a triple overtime 45-37 victory for #12 U-M, Hart became the first Wolverine in history to record three straight 200-yard rushing games, rushing for 223 yards (6.8 yards per carry) on 33 carries and scored one rushing TD. However, the hero of the game was Braylon Edwards who caught 3 key passes, 2 for TDs, late in the game. By the way, this game may well have joined the 1993 Rose Bowl (see below), the 1979 Indiana game (AC's coming out party), and the 1969 U-M/OSU game as the greatest Michigan games of all time.

For the 2004 season (8 starts) Hart rushed for 1,455 yards on 282 carries (5.2 yards per carry) and 9 TDs.


Here is little Michael Hart's competition for greatest games, seasons, and careers ever by a Michigan Running Back.

In reverse chronological order:

At MSU (ranked #9 in the country at the time) on Nov. 1, 2003, an upset 27-20 victory, senior Chris Perry carried the ball a U-M record 51 times for 219 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and a TD, as the underdog #11 Wolverines won. John Navarre threw 3 TD passes in the game, but Perry was the star.

Earlier in the season in a 45-7 win over CMU, Perry ran for 232 yards in 22 carries.

For the 2003 season, Perry rushed for 1,674 yards in a U-M record-setting 338 carries (5.0 yards per carry) and 18 TDs.

At #19-ranked Illinois on Sept. 23, 2000, a 35-21 win, senior Anthony Thomas gained 228 yards and two TDs, including the game-winner, on 35 carries (6.5 yards per carry) as the #10 Wolverines overcame a 14 point deficit at the start of the 4th quarter. Later that season he also rushed for 199 yards on 32 carries in the infamous 54-51 loss at #21 Northwestern (Nov. 4), and for 182 yards on 32 carries in the Jan. 1, 2001 31-28 Citrus Bowl win vs. #20 Auburn.

For the 2000 season, AT rushed for 1,733 yards (2nd most in U-M history) in 319 carries (5.4 yards per carry) and 18 TDs. For his career, AT has the U-M yardage record of 4,472 yards.

At #2-ranked OSU, on Nov. 25, 1995, a 31-23 upset win, junior Tmonga Biakabutuka ran wild for 313 yards on 37 carries (8.5 yards per carry). The #18 ranked Michigan came into the game with 3 losses, including the previous week at Penn State.

Earlier in the season Touchdown Tim rushed for 205 yards in 34 carries in a 19-13 loss the Big House vs. #25 Northwestern (Oct. 7), for 196 yards on 19 carries in a 52-17 win vs. Minnesota (Oct. 28), and for 194 yards in 37 carries in the 28-25 loss at Michigan State (Nov. 4).

For the 1995 season, Biakabutuka rushed for a U-M-record 1,818 yards on 303 attempts (6.0 yards per carry). He turned pro at the end of the season.

The 1993 Rose Bowl vs. #9 Washington, a wild 38-31 win for the #7 Wolverines (who got revenge on the Don James-coached Huskies after being crushed 34-14 in the Rose the year before), in which sophomore Tyrone Wheatley ran for 235 yards on only 15 carries (a staggering 15.7 yards per carry) and 3 TDs (of 45, 88, and 24 yards). In that game Wheatley set U-M single-game bowl records that still stand for most rushing yards, highest yards per carry, and longest rush from scrimmage. Senior TE Tony McGee also had a great Rose Bowl that launched his pro career, catching 6 passes for 117 yards and 2 TDs including the game-winner.

Earlier that season, at Michigan Stadium in a 52-28 win over Iowa (Oct. 3, 1992) Wheatley ran for 224 yards on only 19 carries (11.8 yards per carry).

For the 1993 season, Wheatley rushed for 1,357 yards on 185 carries (a U-M record 7.34 yards per carry) and 13 TDs. For his career, Tyrone has the 3rd most yards in U-M history, 4,178.

In the 1990 season, junior Jon Vaughn had two straight 200+ yard games: 288 yards on 32 carries (9.0 yards per carry) in a 38-15 win in the Big House vs UCLA on Sept. 22.

In the preceding game he ran for 201 yards on 21 carries in a 28-24 loss at #1 Notre Dame (U-M was #4 going into that game).

For the 1990 season, Vaughn rushed for 1,364 yards on 216 carries (6.31 yards per carry). He turned pro at the end of his junior season.

In the Jan. 2, 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl, won 28-24 by U-M over Alabama, senior Jamie Morris rushed for 234 yards on 23 carries (10.2 yards per carry) and 3 TDs. Morris set the U-M bowl rushing record that was later eclipsed by Tyrone Wheatley in the 1993 Rose Bowl. This was the game where Gary Moeller subbed as head coach for an ailing Bo Schembechler, and Jon Kolesar caught the winning TD pass.

For the 1987 season, Morris rushed for 1,703 yards (#3 in U-M history, and the most at that time) on 282 carries (6.0 yards per carry) and 14 TDs. For his career, Jamie has the 2nd most yards in U-M history (and was the leader at the time) with 4,393.

At MSU, on Oct. 10, 1981, a 38-30 win, senior Butch Wolfolk rushed for 253 yards on 39 carries (6.5 yards per carry) for the #6 Wolverines.

Earlier in the season he also ran for 186 yards in 27 carries in a 33-14 win over UCLA in the Holiday Bowl to end the season, and on Jan. 1, 1981 (at the end of the previous season) he ran for 182 yards on 26 carries in the Rose Bowl, a 23-6 win vs. #16 Washington.

For the 1981 season, Wolfolk ran for 1,459 yards on 253 carries (5.8 yards per carry).

On Nov. 16, 1969 (the week before "The game" vs. OSU) at Iowa, sophomore Billy Taylor rushed for 225 yards in 21 carries (10.7 yards per carry) in a 51-6 win for the #12 Wolverines.

For the 1969 season, Taylor had relatively modest overall stats as he shared carries with Glen Doughty ... in 1971, as a senior, Taylor rushed for 1,297 yards on 249 attempts (5.2 yards per carry).

And finally, at Michigan Stadium versus Wisconsin on Nov. 16, 1968, a 34-9 win for the #4 Wolverines, senior Ron Johnson rushed for 347 yards on 31 carries (11.2 yards per carry) and 5 touchdowns (a U-M record for TDs in a single game). This was the game before the infamous 50-14 game at OSU the next week, where Woody Hayes engineered a 2-point conversion to get to 50 points .... the game that ushered in the Bo Schembechler era.

Earlier that season, Johnson also rushed for 270 yards on 26 carries in a 32-9 win at Michigan Stadium versus Navy, and for 205 yards on 31 carries in a 31-10 win at Duke.

For the 1968 season, Johnson ran for 1,391 yards on 255 carries (5.5 yards per carry).

The Bottom line:

GoBlueWolverine's 'old man staffer' has watched, either in person or on TV, all of the above games. He was even in Michigan Stadium, as a high school junior, for the 1968 Wisconsin game where Ron Johnson kept running, and running, and running, and his TD-footballs kept getting passed up and tossed over the North Endzone of the stadium, as was the student tradition back in those 'rebellious' days.

For this writer's 'money', Ron Johnson's 347 (11.2 ypc) versus Wisconsin in '68, Tim Biakabutuka's 313 (8.5 ypc) to shock 32 Ohio State in '95, and Ty Wheatley's 16 yards-per-carry (for 235 yards) in the '93 Rose Bowl are still the three greatest single-game performances in U-M history, with Jon Vaughn's 288 yards (9.0 ypc) versus UCLA in '90 close behind.

That said, Mike Hart's performance yesterday could well be the gutsiest in U-M history. And before Mike is done ... well it should be clear from the above stats that Hart, barring serious injury, is certainly going to decimate most if not all of the U-M rushing records, including career 200 yard games (already done), career 100 yard games (1/3 to tying AT's 22), and quite possibly total career yardage (his hammy this year could keep him from hitting 6,000+ career yards, and this one is naturally the hardest to predict this early, but remember that the current U-M career record is AT's 4,472).

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