Ohio State 42, Michigan 41

Submitted by Ace on November 30th, 2013 at 4:24 PM

The lasting image of this game will be Devin Gardner, injured, spent, and devastated, flat on his back after his pass on the potential game-winning two-point conversion found Buckeye instead of Wolverine.

It's a shame, really, as Gardner gave one of great performances in the history of The Game today, leading a Michigan offensive explosion beyond anybody's wildest predictions. Gardner threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for 34 yards and another score (above, Upchurch), and did all this despite clearly playing at less than 100%. The trio of running backs combined for 137 yards and another score on 24 carries; Al Borges, the offensive line, and the skill position players all had their best performances in over a month—603 total yards against the 13th-ranked defense in the country.

After Gardner lobbed a two-yard jump ball to Devin Funchess to make the score 42-41, Brady Hoke asked his seniors if they wanted to go for two and the win; Taylor Lewan said after the game that, to a man, the answer was yes. In a game that calls for cliché, they left it all on the field.


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

The Buckeyes did too, of course. The Michigan defense simply couldn't find a way to stop Braxton Miller (153 yards and three rushing TDs) and Carlos Hyde (226 yards and a score on 27 carries) on the ground; when OSU went to the air, they didn't hit often—Miller finished just 6/15 on the day—but when they did it went big, as Miller's six completions went for 133 yards and two more touchdowns. Missing safety Jarrod Wilson and weakside LB James Ross, not to mention focusing heavily on stopping the run, the defense repeatedly allowed big plays over the middle. By the time the Buckeyes got the ball with five minutes left and the game knotted at 35, the defense looked gassed and played like it, ceding a one-yard scoring plunge by Hyde to cap a six-play, 65-yard drive that featured exclusively runs.

Gardner was masterful in the two-minute drill, finding Funchess, then Drew Dileo twice, then Joe Reynolds, Justice Hayes, and Toussaint to move the Wolverines 82 yards before netting the final two and six points on the lob to Funchess. Michigan tried to free up a receiver on a rub route on the two-point conversion; the Buckeyes had it covered, though, and Gardner's hopeful throw landed in the arms of Tyvis Powell.

Michigan didn't just give Ohio State a fight—quite literally, in a couple instances (above, Fuller)—they played their part in an instant classic. Devin Gardner might've ended the game on his back; I'll remember all the times he got up before that, and what he did while he was standing, above all else.

Comments

BlowGoo

November 30th, 2013 at 9:05 PM ^

Not so much happy as relieved that I kindasortakinda SEE where the ship is headed now.  It now seems believable to me that some of the problems from this year could still be due to transition of dealing with maturing talent, dealing with a QB who is more of a runner than a pocket passer while trying to groom the rest of the offense to serve a QB who has the opposite profile.

 

Before this week, it just seemed like f#$*ing chaos.  Now it at least seems PLAUSIBLE that the playcalling was about staying true to the direction of where the program wants to be ("manball"... I'm getting sick of that expression) while dealing with the reality that the skill positions just aren't very good at that philosophy.  And it seemed like it was out of ignorance.  Now, it just seems like the previous problems were out of choice.

We can argue about the merits and demerits of choosing to playcall the way Hoke & Co. have the majority of the season, but at least the Ohio game demonstrates that they knew how to playcall to this team's strengths and weaknesses all along, but felt doing so over a season would be destructive in the long term.

 

Again, I'm not saying I agree or disagree with this philosophy.  I'm just relieved to see evidence based on today's performance that there IS a philosophical thing going on here over long term direction and not simply people unaware of how to do their jobs.  I do not believe that Borges SUDDENLY figured out how to play call this week: I think he knew it all along, but that the playcalling today was not true to how they want the youth of this team to play over the long haul.

 

As opposed to the coaching staff being just fricking clueless.  Which I no longer think they are.

So, not happy with the loss.  But happy with the evidence that there IS a plan here.

Reader71

December 1st, 2013 at 4:43 PM ^

That's the tune I've been singing since 2011. People called me all sorts of things, very few of them true. But I believed it then, and I believe it now, and there is and has always been evidence for it.

The coaches are not dumb. They're actually pretty frickin good. We are just in a transition that, to this staffs credit, they put off in order to win games.

Wolverine15

November 30th, 2013 at 4:38 PM ^

While I expected a blowout loss, I can't describe this fan base as "happy" after 26-21. It was the way the team played today, the way an injured Gardner played one of the all time great games by a Michigan player, the way the team refused to quit especially when down by 14 in the 4th. Close loss doesn't explain this game. Besides being a single play from a win, Team 134 rallied against all odds to play in one of the greatest games in the history of the rivalry. There's no question in my mind about the character and resolve of this team. I'm very proud of them. Disappointed, certainly, but proud.

jarnhestur

December 2nd, 2013 at 9:15 AM ^

The problem is that this team continues to lose and some of us find that unnacceptable.  No one is held accountable for this season and they need to be.  The offensive coaching staff needs to be shaken up.  Am I happy this team fought hard?  Absolutely!  I am proud of loss at home to OSU?  Hell no.

misterpage

December 1st, 2013 at 11:27 AM ^

I'm definitely proud of the outmanned team and how we played too.  I just can't believe how bad we've been dominated in the past 10-15 years.  I keep replaying the 2 point conversion in my head.  So close to beating them!!  I can't stand being underdogs every year in The Game.  So I do understand some on this board who are very upset.  I'm sure they are proud of the effort, we all watched the same game yesterday, but the frustrations presented here are in parallel with exactly what Brians and mine are.  9 losses in a decade??  I can say though that I do have some hope after yesterday as to how Hoke looks at this game.  But I just can't stand losing to them anymore!!

MGozer

November 30th, 2013 at 5:59 PM ^

between calling the loss "acceptable" and noting the silver lining.  Nobody gave Michigan much of a chance, so there were plenty of redeeming factors.

The Legends division was already decided, so today was about playing for pride, and Michigan should be proud of that game.

taistreetsmyhero

November 30th, 2013 at 5:29 PM ^

we've had singular good performances from this exact same team. none of them were indicators of future good performances. ND--great performance on both sides of the ball. How do we respond? Akron and UConn. Turn it around against Minnesota. Play amazing offense against Indiana Shit the bed against MSU. Lose to Nebreska, show signs of life against Northwestern, shit the bed against OSU.

It's impossible to take anything away from the game in terms of predicting future success. Only clear positive that I could say you 100% take away is that we did all the intangibles right and should be proud of the team. We didn't look like classless jackasses, we responded to adversity, we played injured, we played above expectations, we repped the maize and blue hard.

But we've never had clear reason to doubt the intangibles at any point this season.

Muttley

November 30th, 2013 at 5:43 PM ^

Devin was either running for his life or making quick throws.  A magnificient performance that few QBs could produce.

Guess what.  Other DCs got to view that game film and plan accordingly.  Not just in their pass rushing schemes but also in their coverage schemes.  No need to play soft coverage when the O-Line is sure to collapse.

MGoStrength

November 30th, 2013 at 5:23 PM ^

The score of the game is not the only result.  It may be the most meaningful, but nonetheless there are other results.  How the fan base feels, how the players react, how the coach feels, how recruits feel, the types of questions the media asks etc.  We've all seen how media questioning a coach's job status can affect a team or a recruit.  A well played, hard fought, close game, especially with a young team, however can in some ways be a win and a growing experience.  Rarely do ugly loses help you or motivate a team.  They are demoralizing and make you lose confidence in yourself.  It's close losses that motivate to do just a little more, that make you believe you can in fact compete with a good team, and that inspire you.  It reminds you that despite all the adversity the ability is still there and they are close.  That may not ease the pain of the loss, but there can be positive results from a close loss when you play well. An ugly loss...not so much.

jabberwock

November 30th, 2013 at 7:00 PM ^

The people who can't see the difference between a hardfought loss like this and a demoralizing  MSU loss are sputtering idiots.

I dont think one game necessarily means the program has turned a corner this season, but the headlong slide to tire-fire status has certainly slowed.

I'm more excited to see Michigan in a bowl next month than I was last week.

StephenRKass

November 30th, 2013 at 6:51 PM ^

I'm not happy at the loss. But here's some of the reality for me:

  • Michigan's talent level is lower than Ohio:  they played above their heads and almost beat Ohio.
  • Not only was our talent level lower, the loss of Ross and Gibbons, et al hurt Michigan, but we managed.
  • I'm sick and tired of hearing how Meyer is a "way better coach" than Hoke. Hoke called a better game, imhe.
  • I love that Hoke had the balls to go for two at the end of the game.
  • It both respected the seniors, and has to be very appealing to the rest of the team and to incoming recruits.
  • I'm even more sick of all the Borges haters on this board. To the point, I don't even like to post any more, and come to the site way less. I think Borges did an excellent job today.
  • I'm happy about the future. I only see the offensive line getting better, and I really look forward to next year. With the O line experience, and Gardner being well seasoned, four solid WR (Funchess, Darboh, Harris, and Chesson,) two seasoned RB (Green and Smith,) Michigan's going to be competing even with the brutal schedule next year, and competing even more from 2015 going forward.
  • I feel like the recruits there today see where Michigan is going, and won't be turned away from Michigan in the least.

Happy? No, but I'm proud of the team, 100% behind them, and look forward to next year.

UM_Columbus

November 30th, 2013 at 7:22 PM ^

but if the coaching staff remains intact, especially the offensive staff, how is this team going to improve on this year's record? The only reason Borges called a good game was because his ass was on the line. The offense looked great today but was crap the rest of November. I believe in the kids that are here but not in the staff that is paid a LOT of money to develop and put these kids in a position to be successful.

jarnhestur

December 1st, 2013 at 8:03 AM ^

What, you have a better idea why he was absolute crap for almost an entire year and suddently called plays to his CURRENT teams strengths?

 

Borges mailed it in all year.  He will next year too.  Fire him.  Today.

 

We are 7-5. That is not acceptable in year 3.

bo.mo.llo.ro.ho

December 1st, 2013 at 11:01 AM ^

Every team must be better than the one before it.

Bo was 6-6 in Year 16.  Not acceptable, should be fired.

Mark Dantonio was 6-7 in Year 3.  Not acceptable, should be fired.

Urban Meyer was 7-5 in Year 6 at Florida.  Florida finds this unacceptable, makes him fake a heart attack and resign.

 

 

 

jarnhestur

December 2nd, 2013 at 9:25 AM ^

Oh, so you're content with how well the coaching staff did this year?  This team almost beat OSU (granted, a much better team then us) but struggle with Akron, UCONN, and lost a few more games they really should have won.

 

Borges cost us last years game against OSU.  He was terrible this year.  You can disagree, but the scores say otherwise.  Negative rushing yards.  Poor QB play as a result of coaching (I think Gardner can be very, very good when used properly).

 

Good effort in a loss to OSU doesn't excuse the rest of the season.

 

BlowGoo

December 1st, 2013 at 11:27 AM ^

I think Borges' questionable playcalling over the season generally, after this game appears to be less due to incompetence than more due to wanting to groom this team for pocket passing & power running but not having the veterans at the skill positions capable of executing under that scheme efficiently.

With the Ohio game, all that temporarily goes out the window and Borges demonstrated what he could do when only thinking about short-term win-this-week-at-all-costs and not long-term offense development.

So I know I'll get skewered, but as long as Hoke wants him, I think Borges should stay, now more than ever (furthermore I don't see any compelling OC alternatives out there). And I'm sick of transitioning almost as much as I'm sick of losing to Ohio and MSU.

So Borges showed me he can play call, he recognizes his own team's strengths and weaknesses, but was playcalling despite those weaknesses in order to develop the youth in what will be the long term offensive philosophy. Maddening this year, but for the first time I am confident it will be much, much better next year.

Sick of the panic. Keep calm, Carry On.

Don't let the outrage blind you to what yesterday revealed about long term.

Why do you think the Ohio & MSU fans/guest analysts keep suggesting we shouldn't "settle" for these performances but need to change coaches again?

Because that is exactly what they want us to do: panic, overreact, become more impatient, and keep the program forever in transition.

Keep Borges.

I only hope the panicked rumor mongering, probably stoked by our rivals, haven't cost us Peppers.

Sorry, but that's genuinely how I feel.

bo.mo.llo.ro.ho

December 1st, 2013 at 2:09 PM ^

that Buckeye and Spartan-based analyses keep pounding the "you're better than this; Hoke is mediocre" drum. It is certainly in their interests for us to keep tearing our program down. I also think their programs are a different breed; more open to the idea of quick fixes and mercenaries and hired guns, particularly OSU. They don't get it and they don't need to, as long as we know who we are.

 

BlowGoo

December 1st, 2013 at 3:42 PM ^

Yep.  Their fear (OSU and MSU supporters) is that Hoke is, in fact, a great long-term solution for us.  They sense that the ship is about to complete its second 180 degree turn in less than a decade, and anything they can do to keep us turning in circles, they will do.

 

The entire Peppers misadventure, I bet but won't be able to prove, is due to our B1G rivals stoking the fires of unnecessary change.  Just when we're about to turn it around.

 

I'm very excited for next year.  I'm glad Borges saved his job.  I see where they're going with this, and I think it's going to be magnificent.

jarnhestur

December 2nd, 2013 at 9:28 AM ^

When you set a precident that a coach can be fired after 3 years while trying to change an entire team's philosophy, this is what your get.

 

I'm not arguing that RichRod shouldn't have been fired, but since he was and he never got that chance to really implement his own players and scheme this is what you're left with.

 

Also, the fact that Michigan has been terrible in big games for what, 10 years doesn't help.  The fan base doesn't want to hear we need 6+ years to find out if Hoke is any good all while paying through the nose for football tickets.

BoWoody

November 30th, 2013 at 6:52 PM ^

Since the tressel days, he really owned. i agree with the player puttingeverything on the line. hste thr formation of the 2 point converstion. but it was well play game. It doesnt bother me cuz they out recruit us every year and they have a much better head coach than us. so the lose gurts but we played well enough to be inposition to win