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Can almost beating a team count as a high point? When you had a season like the one the folks in Ann Arbor just had, it sure can.
Michigan entered the 2013 season with lofty hopes and expectations to match. The Wolverines trounced Central Michigan in the opener before edging past rival Notre Dame, then the No. 14 team in the land.
But unconvincing—even fortuitous—victories against the likes of lowly Akron and pitiful Connecticut had Michigan steadily dropping in the polls despite the mounting win count. After easily dispatching what would turn out to be a pretty decent Minnesota team in Week 6, the Wolverines dropped their first game of the season at Penn State in four overtimes.
Just when you thought Michigan might rebound after an offensive explosion against Indiana the following week, the Wolverines were shown up and embarrassed by their apparently grown-up "little brother," Michigan State (MSU has won five of the last six meetings).
The Spartans' 29-6 drubbing of the Wolverines was a sign of things to come for both teams. That also means it was the beginning of the end for Michigan in 2013.
Michigan would win only once more all season, and even that win relied on a bit of good fortune, as the Wolverines pulled a suicide field goal as time expired against Northwestern to send the game to overtime.
So is it any wonder the then-No. 3 Buckeyes entered Michigan Stadium as massive favorites?
But the Wolverines proved, once again, that rivalry games aren't played on paper. Despite suffering a broken foot, quarterback Devin Gardner put up 451 passing yards and five combined touchdowns to give Michigan a shot to tie the game—or take the lead—with under a minute left.
Brady Hoke, in a bold move, opted for the two-point conversion to try to win the game in regulation. Gardner's pass fell incomplete, but Michigan had sent a loud signal to the rest of the Big Ten that the Wolverines were not about to go quietly.
That kind of grit will be needed in 2014 if Michigan is going to finally have that long-awaited turnaround season.