ANN ARBOR - "Yeah," Brady Hoke said, "I thought we had more of a shot than most people thought we did." His Michigan team had just finished one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Michigan - Ohio State rivalry, 24-20, before a Michigan Stadium crowd that had conspicuously more red-clad fans than usual. "I thought we might be able to stuff them defensively a little bit - Greg Mattison has been rotating guys in to the front seven all season long, which gave us a little more versatility and fresh legs out there. Ohio likes to pick up the pace, so we needed to be able to play strong into the fourth quarter."
Michigan had been struggling to find its offensive identity for two months, and this game was no different. The running game plodded for only 74 yards on 27 carries, and Devin Gardner - clearly not at 100% for the last month - was 13 of 29 with two interceptions. But he connected on two long passes in the third quarter - one a 64-yard bomb to Devin Funchess to set up one score and a 41-yard catch-and-run by Jeremy Gallon to set up another - and chipped in with a key 14-yard scramble on 3rd and 12 in the fourth for a key first down in the fourth quarter that kept Ohio State off the field just a bit longer. Michigan ended the game with only 14 first downs and 220 yards of total offense.
But the key was the defense. Carlos Hyde was held relatively in check, with 27 carries for 109 yards (well under his season average of 7.7 yards a carry) and fumbled twice. One was recovered by Michigan on the Ohio State 21 and led to a field goal, and another was recovered by Ohio State but stalled a long second quarter drive. Braxton Miller was effective early as Ohio State scored the game's first 10 points but a critical fumble on a huge blindside hit by Jake Ryan - unlike Devin Gardner, finally at 100% - recharged the Michigan Stadium crowd and led to a rumbling 17-yard touchdown run by Derrick Green.
Michigan now waits to see where it will be going for the holidays, while Ohio State goes on to the Big Ten Championship game next week, now considerably less interesting with Michigan State losing to Minnesota in yet another down year for the Big Ten.
(ed. note - do I think this will happen? Ehhhh, not really. We're just not very good. But if it does happen...yeah, I think this is how it might.