Saturday, November 17, 2007

Same Old Story: Ohio State 14, Michigan 3

In the stands it was brutally cold, rainy, and at times, snowy, and on the field, it was even worse, with the Michigan Wolverine defense giving the Wolverine offense every opportunity to defeat Ohio State, only to see the Wolverine offense struggle to gain any traction on the slick Michigan Stadium field turf. So the careers of Mike Hart, Jake Long, and Chad Henne end 0-4 against the dreaded Ohio State Buckeyes and the tenure of Lloyd Carr may have come to end, and if it does, he'll be 6-7 against Ohio State, and an amazing 1-6 in his last seven games.

You feel bad for Hart, Henne, and Long, who came back for their senior seasons, shunning the NFL Draft, to not only win a National or Big Ten Championship, but to beat Ohio State for the first and only time in their careers. Instead, their regular season ended just as it began, with two bitter losses in a row, and people left without answers, and Michigan fans and alumni questioning the future of head coach Lloyd Carr. You feel especially bad for Hart and Henne who obviously were nowhere near 100% and just could not get anything going against a tough, ferocious Ohio State defense.

In many ways, Michigan likely would have been better off, as tough as it would have been for Lloyd Carr to do, sticking with Ryan Mallett, who came into the game briefly in the third quarter when Henne had to return to the locker-room to have his shoulder examined. Henne was clearly not healthy enough to lead Michigan to a victory, as his throws were constantly sailing on him, and he had a very hard time directing the ball and getting it where he wanted it to go. Sitting down a senior quarterback like Henne, against Ohio State, would have been a difficult move, but for the good of the team, it may have needed to be done. Hart was also struggling, and came out of the game a few times, but both he and Henne really showed what they are made of, despite the loss. The same can't be said about the Wolverines' wide receivers, who could never get a handle on the wet football and continually dropped passes, and tight end Carson Butler, who singlehandedly killed two of Michigan's only significant drives with holding penalties. Ironically, it was the defense that kept giving the ball back to the Wolverine offense, largely keeping Ohio State in check (aside from one long touchdown rush by Chris Wells) but the offense never got started and kept going three-and-out.

If this was Lloyd Carr's last game at Michigan Stadium, it was a sad way to end an uneven era (and I'll have much more to say when/if Carr does retire). And I agree with Gregg Henson, who wrote today that in addition to Les Miles, the Wolverines should strongly consider Cincinnati head coach (and former Grand Valley State and Central Michigan head man) Brian Kelly. He knows the state of Michigan very well, will be able to recruit around here without a problem, and he's won everywhere he's been.

Today, though, is not about Lloyd Carr's future, or his successor, it is about another loss to Ohio State, and another lost season for Michigan. We still have a Bowl Game to play, but the season ended today, on a cold, snowy, rainy day at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State was victorious again, and one more time, Michigan has to go back to the drawing board with a lot more questions than answers.

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