Oh, what could have been? That is what pretty much every Michigan fan is thinking after watching the Wolverines drop another one to the Buckeyes, this one putting the wraps on a disappointing season in a fitting way.
Like this season, Michigan got off to a nice start by jumping out to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter after out gaining Ohio State 103 to -6 in the first quarter. But the young Wolverines were unable to hold the lead as Josh Metellus dropped a huge interception on an arrant pass from JT Barrett in the redzone. The next play after a delay of game penalty, Barrett scrambled for a touchdown on a missed assignment from the defense.
It completely swung the momentum in the game as Michigan gave the ball right back to Ohio State, who marched down the field and scored on just a three play drive. Not to mention some questionable calls and non-calls from the refs, that even the announcers were openly questioning.
Michigan was able to fight back and take the lead in the third quarter and score after a nice Kekoa Crawford catch and run to set up a Karan Higdon touchdown. But a blocked extra point only made it 20-14. And it didn’t take long for Ohio State to take the lead, even after Barrett was knocked out of the game with a rogue Tanya Harding-like pregame cameraman knee injury that didn’t look to be an issue until an awkward tackle to the ground on a scramble in the third-quarter.
Whatever happened, Dwayne Haskins came and actually improved the Buckeyes offense through the passing game.
Thanks to several third and long conversions, Haskins had Ohio State up 24-20 with John O’Korn and the Michigan offense struggling badly. After scoring its third touchdown of the game in the third quarter, Michigan only put up 91 total yards in four series, more than half of which came on the last drive of the game down 31-20. Those series of drives included several missed opportunities through the passing game and a fair-catch interception that, unfortunately for O’Korn, will be remembered for years to come that put the nail in the coffin for the Wolverines after a missed field goal by OSU that gave Michigan the ball with under three minutes to go and a chance to win the game.
That didn’t happen. Ohio State won 31-20 to move to 10-2 on the season while Michigan slips to 8-4 and looks to be headed to a pre-New Years bowl.
- DE Rashan Gary
- Gary had one of his best games as a Wolverine on Saturday. And it was much needed. He was a wreaking havoc in the backfield throughout the game (in the first half especially) as he racked up 10 total tackles, 2 sacks and 3 tackles-for-loss. Though he let Barrett spin out of a one-on-one tackle on a big third down conversion, Gary showed why he’ll be even more of a force in his upcoming junior season.
- RB Chris Evans and Karan Higdon
- Michigan’s running back duo is the most exciting thing to take away from the offense this season. Both Evans and Higdon had nice performances behind a struggling offensive line against a talented defensive line. Thanks to some very nice play calls and reads, both backs were able to average more than 5.0 yards per carry and helped keep UM in the game offensively.
- PR Donovan Peoples-Jones
- Though he was unable to pull in a catch in this game, he had one of the biggest plays of the game and a play that will be used on his highlight tapes for years to come. That was on his 2nd quarter punt return where he broke 8 tackles (for real) before getting tripped up from behind at the 11-yard line as he was breaking free to the end zone. It set up Michigan’s second touchdown and had the Big House rocking. Look out for him as a more polished return man next season.
- Other Options:
- DE Chase Winovich
- TE Zach Gentry
- WR Kekoa Crawford
Check out the condensed game highlights from the 2017 Michigan vs. Ohio State game:
And that puts a wrap on the 2017 Michigan Wolverines football regular season. A regular season that was a disappointment but one that may end up being a pillar to future success for the program. The heavy majority of the two-deep and roster will return next season and, though it won’t be the highest ranked class, the 2018 recruiting class has plenty of size and athleticism, including a couple guys who will fight for time immediately.
I’d suggest not jumping off that bandwagon just yet, Michigan fans.
Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog
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