Thoughts on Michigan’s Loss To Ohio State

I’m as guilty as anybody of believing the officiating in the Michigan-OSU game was bad, one-sided and embarrassing.  What happened at Ohio Stadium is an abomination, the referees did play a large part in Ohio State’s win over the Wolverines.  Look, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, we do have the ability to see more than one side of the story.  That is exactly why we should all see the many reasons Michigan lost to Ohio State.

  1.  The referees were terribly one sided and most of the national media seems to agree.  It was bad and it wasn’t beyond reproach as three of the game day officials were from the state of Ohio, with one on the records as being a “big Ohio State fan.”  There was also a ref who is a member of the Ohio State High School Hall Of Fame and one who had previously been fired for poor officiating of a B1G Ten game between Wake Forest and Purdue.  I do not believe the game was fixed, but I do think there are inherent biases when you have allegiance to a state or a team. How can you not have a bias?  It is impossible to not want your home team to win, just like I don’t think “journalists” can be unbiased when their Alma Mater is involved in a contest.
  2. Michigan got conservative with the game on the line, every coach with “Schembechler blood” does this and Harbaugh is no different.  Gary Moellar did it, so did Lloyd and now Jim Harbaugh has the conservative disease.  It’s in Michigan’s DNA to try to protect a lead rather than to go all out and win it….face it, they rarely trust their QB’s to take over a game.  One of my most vivid memories of Bo was his stunning “turtle” against Miami (FL) in 1988.  Miami scored 17 points in the final 5 minutes 23 seconds to shock the University of Michigan, 31-30…remember Carlos Huerta?  How about Gary Moellar against Colorado in 1994.  Michigan took a 26-14 lead into the 4th quarter against the # 7 team in the country only to see their conservative approach ultimately cost them on the Kodell Stewart to Michael Westbrook Hail Mary with no time left. These are obviously extreme examples, but Michigan football is littered with games they were controlling only to lose late.  Harbaugh has already done it with Michigan State last year, Iowa this year and last weekend OSU.
  3. The Michigan offensive line isn’t great and it shows weekly.  Brady Hoke could recruit but he didn’t bring in a ton of vintage Michigan lineman and it shows.  The Michigan offensive line issues go back a decade, they have rarely had a “vintage OL” up to Michigan standards since Lloyd Carr retired.  The current group improved, but they hit their ceiling at the midway point of the season and weren’t good enough.  They dominated the buckeyes for 2 quarters but couldn’t put a whole game together and it cost Michigan dearly in the fourth quarter when they needed to assert themselves.  Five yards in the fourth quarter is the biggest indictment you  can levy against the offensive line.
  4. Wilton Speight wasn’t great but he did more than enough to win.  His two picks were killer, but Michigan still had a chance to salt it away late and a combination of extremely poor officiating and poor execution changed the complexion of the game.  He’s only going to get better and Michigan fans should feel pretty comfortable in his future as the Michigan signal caller in 2017 and 2018.
  5. Michigan’s running game is just ok.  The combination of young back and young offensive lineman should make the running game struggles a thing of the past.

Yes, this was a brutal loss, yes the officials were hot garbage and yes, Michigan inflicted a lot of their own wounds, but ultimately they overcame their mistakes and were in position to win the game.  THAT didn’t happen and the officials were part of the problem.  Don’t at like pointing out the ineptitude of the officials is a “loser play.”  It mattered.