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.


Franz Schubert

November 30th, 2013 at 4:45 PM ^

We lost! To OSU! At home! Blah Blah Blah, what about that defense, are we pretending it wasnt as bad as any RR era defense today? I want to throw up at how completely clueless we are defensively and yet everyone seems to be proud? Is this where we are now?

Gob Wilson

November 30th, 2013 at 4:53 PM ^

As football games go. This was a classic. Yeah, we lost. It sucks. But if you fail to understand the effort of the players, and the progress that was made on this day then I feel bad for you. OSU was the top rated offense in the Big Ten.... the remarkable thing is that we torched THEIR D.

Franz Schubert

November 30th, 2013 at 5:03 PM ^

393 yards rushing at 8.5 a carry..lol Im not impressed with Mattison or the defensive players effort. That was UGLY and the fact that UM had NO chance to stop them from running down their throat is why BH went for the 2-point conversion. This was RR era defense. 


November 30th, 2013 at 5:12 PM ^

It does make you wonder when Mattison is finally going to lose his highly undeserved "genius" label.  393 rushing yards allowed is absolutely pathetic.  Even RichRod's defenses never gave up that much.  This guy is getting his ass handed to him over and over and over again, and the only reason why the team isn't statisically terrible is because they have played only two elite offenses this year, and in both games they got embarrassed RichRod style. 


November 30th, 2013 at 7:11 PM ^

The loss of Ross and Wilson was huge (let alone Pipkins earlier in the year.)

But beyond that, we have a significant talent deficiency. Mattison may have masked it better than Borges, but it is going to be another year or two before Mattison has the defense where he wants it. It takes time, and Michigan is getting there.


November 30th, 2013 at 4:45 PM ^

I don't believe in moral victories, but if they did exist, this would be it. I can't imagine the team or the fans will hang their heads for long about that loss, lowered expectations or not. They left it all out there and as cliched as it is, this is truly one of those games where it's a shame someone has to lose.

I can't wait to see what this team looks like healthy and with another month to iron out some kinks in the bowl game. I don't think I could have predicted that before this game that I would be this excited for whatever bowl game we end up at.


November 30th, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

The Al Borges conundrum: 

The past 7 games, Michigan is 2-5, including a miracle win against Northwestern that required a Chinese fire drill field goal. 

The offense has played to two extremes, recordbreaking on both ends. 

Against Indiana and Ohio State:

1354 yards, 15 TDs, 104 points.

Against Penn State, MSU, Nebraska, Northwestern and Iowa (in regulation):

1166 yards, 6 TDs, 59 points. 

I just don't get it. Its not a fluctuation between good and bad, its a fluctuation between near perfection and completely abysmal. 

I don't understand how players can "execute" so perfectly in two weeks and then be completely out of their element the rest. 

I was 100% on board with getting rid of Borges before this game. Now, I'm at about 70%. Even though this game was incredible and our young OLine looked good for the first time in a long time, I'm still looking at the past month and shaking my head. If the offense had this potential, where was it? How could it be nowhere to be found? How can a team with this ability lose games to Nebraska, Penn State and Iowa? How can they gain 45 yards last week against Iowa in the second half and then 300 against Ohio State? 

I think we can find a better OC who can get more out of these players than Borges has the second half of this season. I don't think that this performance outweighs everything else. 



November 30th, 2013 at 7:30 PM ^

I'm glad Borges, and Hoke, and Brandon, and Mattison ignore AA Torch & Pitchfork and the rabid fan base. I completely do NOT believe Michigan is settling for mediocrity with Borges, and I believe that 2015 is the year.

  • With all of Gardner's experience, and Morris having two full years of practice, and Speight coming in as well,
  • with Harris and Ways being added as Wide Receivers, and Campbell in 2015,
  • with the Offensive Line solidifying and several great guys coming in every class,
  • with Green and Smith at RB, and Harris coming in 2015, 

our offense is going to be not just fine, but great. Michigan is not going to be easy for MSU and Nebraska and Penn State and Iowa to push around. While we won't be all there by next year, the team is going to be vastly different, and soon. Our record next year will improve, and we'll be competing for the Big 10 title by 2015, bigger things by 2016.

Kevin Holtsberry

November 30th, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

I don't agree with the call to go for it. At home I say you play for OT when anything can happen instead of risking everything on one play. But I understand why Hoke did it and wished we would have pulled off the upset of the ages. To come so close and lose is a bitter pill.

What is so frustrating is that it seems for the last ten years, Ohio State finds ways to win games like this and we find ways to lose. They win ugly,

When was the last time Michigan actually pulled off the big upset? Feels like forever.


November 30th, 2013 at 5:03 PM ^

Going for it guarantees the game is decided on your most favorable matchup (M Offense vs OSU Defense) that has gone well all day.  

I don't mind the play call either, the timing route is a solid choice when your QB has been playing well and you want to be able to get the ball off fast, understanding that your offensive line won't hold up that well and that OSU has been gunning for the rollout/option all day.

I think going for the jugular here was correct.   

Also, overtime is a bad idea when your kicker isn't 100%.


November 30th, 2013 at 5:19 PM ^

I think the short field favors the team that can run better, and that was clearly OSU.  Also, as you mention, we were shaky from a field goal perspective.  i was hoping they went for 2, and kind of surprised when they did.  But the only way I think we could have won in overtime would have been to force a turnover.  I think our odds of completing the 2 point-conversion were better than our odds of forcing a turnover before they beat us in overtime.


November 30th, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

These seniors should be proud. They never gave up. It could have gotten ugly down two scores in the second half. The amount of young guys making an impact in this game shows plenty of promise for next year.


November 30th, 2013 at 4:50 PM ^

With the call to go for two. Well, I was okay with it if we could catch them off guard, but after they have a TO to set up. No. However . . . if the players called it, then I guess it's forgivable.


November 30th, 2013 at 4:55 PM ^

asked the seniors what they wanted to do. These seniors have been through a lot. He has a great knack for being in tune with these kids. Just needs to get a better handle on what is happening on the offensive side of the ball. If he can accomplish that he will be a complete coach.


November 30th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

I predicted our offense would stay dead.  My final score prediction was OSU 38, Michigan 6.  So Devin and the offense obviously gave me some hope.  Very proud of them.  It was annoying as hell that Borges waited until the 12th game of the season to try some different things but that's not exactly surprising either.

The truly sad part is even if we had scored on that 2-point conversion, I could still picture OSU marching straight down the field, just like they had all day, in the 30 seconds they would have had left to kick the field goal to win it.  Braxton is dangerous, but the D made it too easy for him.  He barely had to try on two of his touchdown runs.  Just take two steps to the left, and he's walking into the end zone untouched.

The defense was the biggest and most shocking disappointment this year.  They made Akron look like world beaters, they made 18 year old Christian Hackenburgh look like Tom Brady, they made Indiana's offense look like Pete Carrol's USC teams, they didn't have a prayer against OSU.  It was just really heartbreaking all year long.  Defense was supposed to be the strength of this team.  We knew going into the season that the O-line was going to be a major issue.

I love Michigan.  I will always root for them no matter what stroke inducing thing they do to me.  But it was really depressing watching how much they regressed throughout the season and then to finish their final season game like...that.  I hated the fact that I wanted football season to be over in mid-October....which is something I always said when RichRod was here.  I just hate this feeling. 

GO BLUE always. 


November 30th, 2013 at 5:19 PM ^

I'll probably get torn a new asshole shortly, but...

This team is short on expereince on both side of the ball. REALLY short. That's been our biggest issue all year. The trajectory is up as a result as we return a huge percentage of starters/two deep.

Thanks, though, for recognizing that there were frustrations coming from Not Al Borges during the season.


November 30th, 2013 at 9:54 PM ^

I said it when we scored to tie, left too much time on the clock. Figuring they get the ball on the 25 with 32 seconds left, I absolutely believe they would have taken the ball the 40-50 yards needed to attempt a field goal. Whether they make it, who knows, obviously would have loved to find out but our defense was hemorrhaging huge chucks of yardage all game, especially in the 2nd half.


November 30th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

so I didn't have to try to say what I am so pleased others said.  I was watching with someone who is of the "we didn't win, so it's over" school.  I was fine with Hoke going for 2, and thrilled to hear that's what the team wanted.  And for those who berate these players for proving they could have played better at other games, they've never bought into the "they're young and have to learn and get better" idea, but maybe that's exactly what's been happening.  Last week they lost a couple defensive starters in the 2nd half (didn't know it at the time) and yes, the defense was less successful in the 2nd half.  Didn't know Ross and Wilson were out today, and the team wore down in the 2nd half again.  Was that why?  Was it that youngsters were thrown into the fire and passing expectations, learning and improving and just not able to close out against a team that was expected to blow us out?  No moral victories.  Well, I'm one of those softies who thinks there are.   

Chuck Harbaugh

November 30th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

so proud of the team and the brass balls of the coach to win it right here.  If DG weren't broken, and Ohio runners were stoppable, OT would have been reasonable, but he was and they weren't.


FWIW, the OSU hate is so strong out here the talking heads on sports radio are bitching about the go for two because it didn't work and Ohio won.

True Blue Grit

November 30th, 2013 at 5:00 PM ^

They showed great heart, desire, and toughness all the way to the end.  Our D was overmatched by their offense, yet we were still in a position to win it all.  This game was a classic in the series.  One day soon, we're going to start winning these games.  Hopefully starting next year.