After three painful losses culminating in Saturday's dreadful performance against Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, recounting the Michigan Wolverines' top moments from 2013 seems untimely. It was a tough year marked by poor line play and the inability to consistently run the football, both characteristics that Michigan fans are hardly accustomed to seeing.
But if you're able to peel back the sting of another disappointing season, there are plenty of positive moments to reminisce about. How about the monster year that Jeremy Gallon had? What about the dramatic home victory over Notre Dame that catapulted the Wolverines to 11th in the country?
In the spirit of the New Year, which brings fresh optimism and renewed hope, let's relive some of the best moments of Michigan's 2013 season.
The energy in the Big House was palpable prior to Michigan's Sept. 7 matchup with Notre Dame, and the game certainly didn't disappoint. The Wolverines electrified the home crowd of over 115,000 under the lights with big play after big play, jumping out to a 27-13 lead at halftime and holding on for a 41-30 victory.
On the night that quarterback Devin Gardner made the permanent switch to No. 98 to honor the great Tom Harmon, Gardner played a near-flawless game. He threw for 294 yards and led the team in rushing yards with 82, throwing four touchdown passes and running for another in the process. Gardner propelled the Michigan offense to 460 total yards.
In the final Michigan home game in the historic rivalry that was first contested way back in 1887, the Wolverines went out in style. As the clock hit zero, the stadium sound system blared the "Chicken Dance," presumably referencing Brady Hoke's statement that Notre Dame was "chickening out" of the series after 2014.
It was pretty well known that Indiana's defense wouldn't pose a major threat to the Michigan offense heading into their Week 8 contest. The Hoosiers had the conference's worst defense coming into the game, and their secondary had been a major area of concern.
But no one could have predicted a record-setting offensive explosion like this.
Devin Gardner set school records for passing yards, with 504, and total offense from a single player, accounting for a colossal 584 yards. Even more impressive than Gardner's stats were those of Jeremy Gallon, who put on a clinic against the Hoosiers. He set a Big Ten record with a remarkable 369 receiving yards.
The offense collectively set a school record with 751 yards, and with the Michigan defense struggling, the Wolverines needed just about all of them to secure the win.
What a year Jeremy Gallon had. The team's Bo Schembechler MVP award winner had a spectacular season and was a perpetual force for the Michigan offense, finishing with 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns.
The diminutive receiver used his team-first approach to become a vocal leader on offense, and it was hardly a surprise to see him win the award.
“Just to know that my team thought of me as the most valuable player on the team, that’s something special to me,” Gallon said.
Hoke joked with Gallon after he received his MVP award, saying that the 5'8" Gallon was "too little" to play. After receiving a good laugh from the audience, Hoke wasn't joking around when he said that “he’s [Gallon] as good as any big receiver I've been around."
Gallon needed 47 receiving yards in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to pass Braylon Edwards for the most receiving yards in a single season in the history of Michigan football. That wasn't a problem for Gallon, who finished with 89 receiving yards on the night. When you think about Michigan greats like Anthony Carter, Desmond Howard, Amani Toomer and of course Edwards, it's really a remarkable feat.
His Michigan career also had a happy ending, as he threw a completed pass into the end zone with 1:15 remaining in the game for a successful two-point conversion.
It's inevitably difficult to say goodbye to the seniors. After watching them play for four years, it's not uncommon for fans to feel like they actually know the players on a personal level.
Fitz Toussaint is certainly one of the seniors who will be dearly missed. He rushed for 2,290 yards and 28 touchdowns in his career at Michigan, which was highlighted by a 1,000-yard season back in 2011. His knee injury in 2012 was a heartbreaking one, and he never truly regained the agility and explosiveness that he'd shown prior to the injury.
Regardless, in a game that had very few positives for the Wolverines, Toussaint's touchdown run with 1:15 remaining on Saturday night was a feel-good moment for all who've enjoyed watching him over the past four years.
Radio play-by-play man Frank Beckmann said goodbye Saturday, as he was calling his final game for the Wolverines after a 33-year stint as the radio voice of the Michigan football team.
Beckmann was honored alongside his family by the university in the third quarter of the Ohio State game, when he was admittedly quite emotional. “The reaction when they showed me on the screen, I'll admit it, it was pretty cool to have 110,000 people cheering for you,” Beckmann said.
In his 33 years, Beckmann witnessed some great Michigan teams, as well as dozens of individual standouts.
Beckmann noted, "There aren't many announcers who can say they've had two Heisman Trophy winners and a national championship and be able to do all those games for Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson and all the other great players, the offensive linemen, Hutchinson, Jake Long, Backus, go right up to Taylor Lewan."
Beckmann's radio voice has been a constant presence for countless numbers of Michiganders, and I highly recommend reliving his "Touchdown Michigan!" calls as a ceremonial end to both this season and Beckmann's storied career.
Follow me on Twitter @TomLogan_BR