The 1997 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1997 NCAA Division I-A football season. In its third year under head coach Lloyd Carr, Michigan compiled a perfect 12–0 record, won the Big Ten Conference championship, defeated Washington State in the 1998 Rose Bowl, and was declared the national champion by the Associated Press and numerous other polls. The Nebraska Cornhuskers, who also went undefeated and beat Tennessee in the Orange Bowl, captured the top spot in the final Coaches' Poll.
Michigan's defense was led by cornerback and Heisman Trophy-winner Charles Woodson. Woodson, who intercepted eight passes and also scored touchdowns via pass receptions, runs from scrimmage and punt return, became the first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman. Woodson and defensive end Glen Steele were both first-team selections on the 1997 College Football All-America Team. Other standouts on defense included linebackers James Hall with 8.5 quarterback sacks, Sam Sword with 91 tackles, and Dhani Jones with 90 tackles and six sacks. The defense allowed no fourth quarter points or second half touchdowns in the first eight games of the season. The unit's performance across all games in total defense (222.8 yards per game) and scoring defense (9.5 points per game) are the lowest marks by any Big Ten Conference football team since the 1985 season.
On offense, the 1997 Michigan team had neither a 1000-yard rusher nor a 500-yard receiver. Tai Streets was the leading receiver with 476 receiving yards, and Chris Howard led the team in rushing with 938 rushing yards. Quarterback Brian Griese set Michigan single-season records with 193 pass completions and 307 pass attempts. Tight end Jerame Tuman, who was the only player on the offensive unit selected as a first-team All-American, totaled 437 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Ten members of the team were honored as All-Big Ten Conference selections, and running back Anthony Thomas was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Thirty-one members of the 1997 Wolverines football team went on to play in the NFL. Prior to 1997, the Wolverines had compiled four consecutive four-loss seasons and had not won a national championship since the 1948 Michigan team.
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—Frank Zappa (19401993)
“In this dream that dogs me I am part
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All moving the same way.”
—Philip Larkin (19221986)
“Imagination is a valuable asset in business and she has a sister, Understanding, who also serves. Together they make a splendid team and business problems dissolve and the impossible is accomplished by their ministrations.... Imagination concerning the worlds wants and the individuals needs should be the Alpha and Omega of self-education.”
—Alice Foote MacDougall (18671945)