Going into halftime, it looked like the Michigan-Ohio State game was going to be another barnburner, just like the 2011 edition that ended 40-34. Michigan used a long touchdown by Denard Robinson to take a 21-17 lead late in the half, and a last-second field goal pushed the total to 21-20 as the teams went into the break.
41 points in a half? That's exciting.
Michigan's defense stiffened up in the second half, and that's good, because Ohio State enjoyed wonderful field position that gave the Buckeyes multiple opportunities to get into the end zone. Instead, the Buckeyes managed only six points in the second half, and all Michigan needed was one touchdown in the second half to get the necessary points for victory.
Even two field goals would have sufficed.
What grade do you give Michigan's playcalling in the second half?
But Michigan utterly imploded on offense after halftime, failing to even cross the 50-yard line in the second half of Saturday's 26-21 loss. Credit goes to Ohio State's defense for shutting the door time and time again on the Wolverines' efforts, of course, but let's be honest: Michigan's playcalling made Ohio State's job much easier in the second half.
The closest Michigan came to crossing midfield came on its first drive of the second half. There, Michigan faced a 3rd-and-3 at its own 48-yard line.
Ohio State had struggled to stop Michigan on the edge during the entire first half. So what did Michigan do there? Plunge up the middle with Thomas Rawls for no gain, then Denard Robinson on a slow-developing keeper between the tackles. Unsurprisingly, Robinson was stuffed.
And that was as close as Michigan would come to getting into scoring position.
On the next drive, Michigan made it to the 44-yard line on the back of a 30-yard completion to Roy Roundtree before Robinson fumbled the ball away—again—after being tasked with running between the tackles, right into the teeth of Ohio State's vaunted interior defense.
Aside from one one-yard rush in the fourth quarter, that would be the last the game saw of Denard Robinson, the guy who had shredded Ohio State for 117 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Brady Hoke just plain stopped calling his number, and Michigan's offense suffered as a result.
Not everything about Michigan's offensive woes is Hoke's fault, of course. Ohio State forced three key turnovers in the second half alone, and they were all forced by big hits—it's not as if they came as the result of a botched snap or anything. That stop on fourth down was due to a big push in the middle by Ohio State's defense. So credit has to go to the Buckeyes on that front. There's no doubt about that.
It just would have been nice for Michigan and its fans if Brady Hoke and Al Borges had made it just a little more difficult for the Buckeyes to be successful down the stretch.