ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 05: Tate Forcier #5 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates with Denard Robinson #16 after Robinson ran for a long first quarter touchdown against the Western Michigan Broncos on September 5, 2009 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Michigan Football lost at Ohio State on Saturday by a final score of 26-21. The Wolverines took a 21-20 lead into halftime, but were unable to even penetrate into Ohio State territory in the second half.
Michigan received the ball to start the second stanza and seemed ready to punt on a 4th down and 2 from their own 48 yard line. In fact they were ready to punt and had the punt team on the field. Inexplicably, Brady Hoke called timeout and decided to go for it. That seemed like a rash decision. The play call turned out to be a foreshadowing of the Wolverines second half strategy. They tried to run Denard Robinson up the middle, but he was stuffed for a two yard loss.
The Wolverines offense was completely shut down in the second half. They possessed the ball 6 times and here are the results
6 plays, 21 yards – ending on a 4th down and 2 play were Robinson was stuffed for a 2 yard loss
2 plays, 30 yards – ending on a Denard Robinson fumble
3 plays, 8 yards – on 3rd and 2, Vincent Smith ran for no gain, Michigan punted
3 plays, 7 yards – on 3rd and 1, Smith was tackled for a 2 yard loss, Michigan punted
2 plays, 2 yards – ending on a Devin Gardner fumble
5 plays, 0 yards – ending on a Devin Gardner interception
That equals out to 21 plays, 68 yards, 2 turnovers and 2 punts.
Credit Michigan’s defense. They played in their own territory for much of the second half, but only surrendered 2 field goals. As usual, Jake Ryan led the charge. He tallied 9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles. Ryan now owns the school single season record with 5 forced fumbles.
Michigan’s play calling is going to undergo heavy scrutiny. During the win against Iowa last week, with Gardner at QB and Robinson mixing in at RB and WR, the offense looked dynamic and full of possibilities. This week, they seemed content to try running up the middle, akin to running into a brick wall, against the Ohio State defense. In particular the 4th down play and the back-to-back 3rd down and short Vincent Smith runs were puzzling. The Wolverines had been effective rolling Gardner out because his status as a true dual threat option was problematic for opposing defenses. That option wasn’t utilized against Ohio State, although one of the 3rd and short plays was an option from Robinson to Vincent Smith. The problem is, the Buckeyes realized pretty quickly that Robinson wasn’t going to be able to throw the ball. So when he lined up at quarterback they loaded up the box and shoved the Wolverines backwards.
Michigan finishes the season 8-4, 6-2 and will find out on Sunday, December 2nd where and when they will play their bowl game. Ohio State finishes a prefect 12-0, but they are ineligible for postseason play.