Thursday, January 3, 2013
Best and worst: Michigan
By Brian Bennett
We're continuing our series looking at the best and worst moments of the 2012 season for each Big Ten team. Next in our series: the Michigan Wolverines.
Best moment: Ending Sparty's streak
While Michigan State will never be as big a rival for the Maize and Blue as Ohio State, the four-game losing streak to their in-state competitor still stung. That's why beating the Spartans 12-10 on Oct. 20 in Ann Arbor was the highlight of a season that mostly included losses in every big game. The way Michigan did it made the win feel even more satisfying. It was a physical slugfest throughout, and Michigan State took a 10-9 lead with 5:48 left and had a chance to close the game out. But the Wolverines made a key stop on defense, and Denard Robinson led them into field goal range on the final drive before Brendan Gibbons booted a 38-yard game-winner with five seconds to go. The dramatic victory kept Michigan in position to for the Legends Division title and finally quieted Michigan State fans' bragging rights. "This program was in desperate need for a win in this game," safety Jordan Kovacs told reporters after the game.
Worst moment: Lost in Lincoln
Unfortunately for Michigan, there's a lot to choose from here. There was the blowout in the opener versus Alabama that quickly exposed a top-10 ranking as fraudulent. There was the turnover disaster at Notre Dame. There was the second-half stinker in the loss at hated Ohio State. And just this week, there was the blown lead to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. But Brady Hoke claims to only care about winning Big Ten titles, so with that in mind the 23-9 loss at Nebraska on Oct. 27 was the worst of the season. Michigan fell behind in the Legends race and spent the rest of the season hoping for a Huskers loss that never came. And it was an ugly performance on the road. After Robinson hurt his arm early on, the offense fell apart. Russell Bellomy looked unprepared for the moment, throwing three interceptions while going 3-for-16. Michigan had just 188 yards of offense. In some ways, this may have been a positive turning point long term for the program, because it led to Devin Gardner taking over quarterback duties full time. But the game itself was still a 2012 low point.