No one expected that Michigan would have a chance of beating Ohio State on Saturday, so it came as a surprise that the Wolverines trailed by only a touchdown at halftime. Despite having very little success on offense and giving up two big plays on defense, Michigan was still in this game. They even got the ball to start the second half, so there briefly was a thought in my mind that Michigan could make things interesting.
That thought turned out to be 100% incorrect, as Ohio State opened a can of you know what on Michigan in the second half. The Buckeyes outscored Michigan 28-0 in the third and fourth quarters and really put a hurt on the Wolverines. It’s not even like they ran up the score, either. Michigan just played that badly, leading to an eventual 42-7 win for Ohio State. It was an ugly way to end the season, but it basically summed up how these last few months have gone.
- On the fourth play of the game, Terrelle Pryor was intercepted by Stevie Brown, who returned the pick 34 yards down to the Ohio State 13. At the time this seemed like a play that could get Michigan ahead early to truly make things interesting, but in typical U-M fashion that’s not how things turned out.
- Much to no one’s surprise, Michigan went three and out. K.C. Lopata came in to kick a field goal, and just as we saw a week ago against Northwestern, he missed it. Lopata kicked the ball wide left from 35 yards away, meaning that Michigan did not capitalize on the interception. It really was the same scenario as the Northwestern game. Stevie Brown picked off a pass and returned it deep into the opponent’s territory, only to have the offense do nothing and Lopata miss a kick.
- The defense rose to the occasion and caused Ohio State to go three and out. This came after Charles Stewart and John Thompson got into it with some Michigan coaches on the sideline prior to second down. Apparently the signals weren’t coming in quick enough, and Michigan had to burn a timeout. Stewart was really pissed off and one of the coaches actually grabbed him by the face mask. Despite the incident, though, Michigan forced OSU to punt.
- Rather than take advantage of good field position, Michigan decided to make another typical and absolutely stupid mistake. Martavious Odoms attempted to field the punt and dove for the ball. Just as we have seen countless times before, Odoms muffed the punt and an Ohio State player recovered the fumble. You would have thought that Odoms learned to not fumble punts by the final game of the season, but apparently he didn’t.
- Even though Ohio State started its next drive near midfield, Michigan’s defense again forced them to go three and out. That’s actually how the next three drives in this game went before Beanie Wells changed everything.
- After another Zoltan Mesko punt, Beanie Wells got the handoff and simply ran straight down the field. He ran through a hole, found some open space, and was gone. Wells ran for 59 yards and a touchdown to put Ohio State on top 7-0. It was like watching a replay of his long TD run against Michigan last year, as he simply got to the second level and sprinted past everybody.
- Michigan’s last drive of the first quarter was just like every other one: three plays and a punt.
- The Buckeyes picked up where they left off, as they got another big play to score a touchdown. Terrelle Pryor threw a pass to an open Brian Hartline, who took it into the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown. As usual, Stevie Brown was the one chasing Hartline down as he ran into the end zone to give the Buckeyes a 14-0 lead.
- After another Michigan three and out, Ohio State had the ball at the Michigan 35 and faced 4th and 3. Jim Tressel decided to go for it, and Pryor’s pass was incomplete. Michigan got the ball and finally did something offensively.
- On 3rd and 10, Nick Sheridan hit Martavious Odoms to just barely pick up a first down. That was the first time Michigan moved the chains in the entire game, and it got the ball rolling for what would turn out to be a successful drive. A few plays later it was 3rd and 15, and Sheridan hit LaTerryal Savoy across the field for a gain of 14. Michigan went for it on 4th down, and Sheridan did a QB sneak to move the chains yet again.
Brandon Minor then took over and ran for gains of 11 and 32 yards. The second big run got Michigan down to the OSU 1-yard line, where the Wolverines would have first and goal. After losing a yard on first down, Minor tried to reverse the field on second down and lost 5 more. He got all 6 yards he lost back on third down, setting up fourth and goal for the Wolverines. Michigan went for it since they had to get a touchdown, and Minor punched it in from a yard out to make this a 14-7 game.
- Ohio State went three and out and Michigan got the ball back with 1:09 to go in the first half. A 21-yard pass to Odoms put Michigan in OSU territory, but that’s about all they could do. Ohio State held Michigan to fourth down, and Zoltan Mesko’s subsequent punt was downed at the 1-yard line. Terrelle Pryor did a QB sneak to end the first half with OSU on top 14-7.
- To open the second half, Michigan had success running the ball initially. Nick Sheridan, Brandon Minor, and Michael Shaw ran the ball 6 times for a total of 37 yards to get the ball into OSU territory for Michigan’s third consecutive drive. Michigan unfortunately went back to the air on the next two plays and after an incompletion on third down Zoltan Mesko had to punt the ball away yet again. The punt was downed at the Ohio State 9, giving Michigan fans hope that the defense could come up with a big play with the Buckeyes pinned deep in their own territory.
- All hope was quickly thrown out the window, as Beanie Wells ran for 42 yards on the first play of the drive. Michigan players were simply out of position, allowing Wells to run down the field until Morgan Trent knocked him out of bounds. On the very next play, Boom Herron got the ball and took off for 49 yards down the middle of the field for a touchdown. That’s right, it took Ohio State two runs to go 91 yards. All of a sudden Ohio State led 21-7, and really this is when the entire outlook of the game started to change.
- Michigan went three and out on its next drive but was bailed out by an Ohio State roughing the punter penalty. The Wolverines’ drive continued only briefly, as Mesko had to come back out to punt again four plays later. The punt came after Nick Sheridan underthrew an open Greg Mathews downfield. Had the pass been thrown in front of him, Mathews could have scored a touchdown. Instead, though, it was OSU ball after the punt.
- Ohio State actually went three and out, and a 33-yard pass from Sheridan to Darryl Stonum got Michigan near midfield. Michael Shaw then ran 13 yards, putting the Wolverines back in OSU territory. Just like earlier in the game, though, Michigan wouldn’t go any farther. Shaw lost 4 yards on first down, and Sheridan then threw an incomplete pass. On 3rd and 14, Sheridan actually ran a QB draw and lost a yard. Mesko had to punt the ball away after the puzzling conservative play call, and Ray Small took the line drive kick back 80 yards to the Michigan 8.
- Terrelle Pryor rolled out to the right side and found Brian Robiskie in the end zone for a touchdown on the first play after the big punt return. Ohio State led 28-7, and the rout was now officially on.
- Sheridan was banged up on the QB draw, so Justin Feagin had to come in at quarterback. He only handed the ball off on the first two plays of the drive, and on third down he was sacked for a loss of 4.
- A 35-yard pass to Dane Sanzenbacher on 3rd and 10 moved the ball down to the Michigan 21 for Ohio State. Boom Herron then closed out the third quarter with a 19-yard run down to the 2.
- On 1st and goal, Donovan Warren looked like he got an interception. A Terrelle Pryor pass was deflected and Warren appeared to gain possession of the ball and get a foot down inbounds. The initial call was an incompletion, and after the play was reviewed that was still the call. Herron took the ball into the end zone from 2 yards out on the very next play, giving OSU a 35-7 lead.
- On the ensuing kickoff, Boubacar Cissoko fumbled the ball and surprise, surprise, it was recovered by Ohio State.
- One-time starting QB Todd Boeckman came into the game and completed an 18-yard pass to Brian Hartline on 3rd down for a touchdown. Ohio State now led 42-7, which is what the final score would be. Even though there were over 13 minutes left in the game, both teams traded punts and basically ran out the clock. Michigan didn’t pick up another first down, and Feagin actually had to come back in at QB for the Wolverines’ last drive of the game. He never threw a pass, though, and Zoltan Mesko punted the ball away one more time before OSU ran out the clock for good.
Coming into this game, I expected it to be ugly. Even so, it was just disappointing to watch Michigan make so many of the same mistakes they have made all season long. Whether it was the fumbled punt and kick returns, the poor tackling, the lack of an offense, or the downright awful secondary play, all of the mistakes Michigan made happened many times before this game. I’d like to say that this team has improved since the start of the year, but it sure didn’t look like it on Saturday.
With the worst season in Michigan history now over and the longest offseason in over 30 years — both literally and figuratively — now underway, we are left waiting until next September for U-M football. That may be a good thing considering how much better this team has to get, but it is a terrible and weird feeling to be done with Michigan football in November. What makes things even worse is that this offseason will be a painful one. More attrition will happen, and you can bet the negativity toward Rich Rodriguez and this program — both from the media and from the fan base/alumni/former players — will only get louder.
As we start to put this past season behind us and begin to look ahead to 2009, all I can say is that I hope Michigan is able to get back to a bowl game next year. If not, Rich Rodriguez and Bill Martin will be unemployed, and we will have to go through another coaching search and another transition. Although patience is necessary, Rodriguez is on thin ice after how badly this season went. I expected it to be rough, but I never would have imagined a 3-9 record, especially with one of those losses coming against Toledo. After coaching the worst football team in Michigan history, Rodriguez has to get things turned around quickly; otherwise, well, let’s not even go there.