Michigan Football: What Saturday's Near-Upset Means for the Wolverines

Chris KudialisFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2013

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 30:  Wide receiver Drew Dileo #9 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates a fouth quarter touchdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes during a game at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After a roller-coaster regular season capped by a near-upset Saturday against then-No. 3 Ohio State, the Michigan Wolverines finish the 2013 regular season 7-5 and await their postseason bowl fate.

Though speculation swirled about the future of Michigan’s head coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges before Saturday’s loss, it appears that all coaches will be back in 2014, per Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press:

 

Besides the fact that Michigan’s impressive performance in The Game helped secure the future of Hoke—and especially Borges—Michigan’s 42-41 loss against the Buckeyes left viewers with other notable takeaways.

 

Michigan can compete with superior competition…at home

Though the Wolverines fell flat in a 29-6 loss at Michigan State on Nov. 2, they thumped then-No. 14 Notre Dame on Sept. 7 and gave Ohio State its closest game in two seasons under Urban Meyer. It’s a testament to Hoke’s coaching and the importance Michigan places on playing at home and against the Buckeyes.

Nov 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) looks to pass during the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

 

Devin Gardner is a big game quarterback...statistically

In Michigan’s three biggest games this season against Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State, Gardner completed a combined 67 of 105 passes for 955 yards and eight touchdowns. That averages out to completing roughly 22 of 35 passes for 318 yards and 2.66 touchdowns per game.

Though Gardner rushed for just 46 total yards on 40 carries in the three games, those numbers are affected by an 18-carry, minus-46-yard performance against Michigan State in which the Wolverines’ offense was outmatched by the top-ranked Spartan defense.

Though Michigan lost two out of the three games, Gardner played arguably his two best games of the season against Notre Dame and Ohio State.

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 30:  Head coach Brady Hoke of the Michigan Wolverines and head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes meet on the field after the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Michigan Wolverines 42-41 at Michigan Stadium on November 30,
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

 

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is officially 'back'…for now

The Wolverines are only 1-2 against Ohio State since Brady Hoke took over as head coach, but Michigan played incredibly well in narrow losses to the Buckeyes in both 2012 and 2013. After a 26-21 loss in Columbus last year, Michigan was just a two-point conversion away from upsetting Ohio State on Saturday.

Perhaps most impressively, Michigan entered Saturday’s game as 17-point underdogs, according to Vegas Insider, and performed better than just about all media pundits and college football experts predicted them to.