Ghosts of Michigan's Past

Gregory Shamus / Getty Images
There's an old quote by Fielding Yost that goes, essentially, football games are never won, they're only lost. I assume because the internet tells me so that Yost actually said that at some point...but it does reek of that "fortune cookie wisdom" that probably wasn't such a thing some 100 years ago. But for a sport that was still in it's infancy in Yost's era, such a poignant observation could've easily been made.

But there is some legitimacy to the notion that football outcomes, especially at the amateur level, are often the result of miscues rather than overwhelming dominance of sound, mistake-free football.

Mistake-free football has not been played in Ann Arbor, consistently, for quite some time. It has, on the other hand, been played quite frequently in Columbus seemingly forever. Saturday was the result of one program struggling to find itself for the better part of a decade, going up against a program that has done nothing but win and reload year after year after year.

Michigan is not to the level of Ohio State. Of this there is no question after last Saturday afternoon. Michigan did not play mistake-free football. Ohio State basically did. Had Michigan done so, the result might've been different, but it's hard to envision Saturday going any other way after 6-straight touchdown drives from the Buckeyes.

We've said it before and it still rings true today, the team that runs the ball better in this game will win. It's really that simple. Control the line of scrimmage, and you will be rewarded with your rivals heart and soul. That's what running the ball down you opponents throat will do for you. Not only do you put points on the board, you decimate your opponents will to live.

It's an absolutely brutal way to lose a football game.

On one hand, I look at that image above and I am wildly jealous. Ezekiel Elliott just killed Michigan. There were others involved, but he did the heavy lifting, gaining 7.1 yards every time he touched the ball. And he did so a week after throwing a little pity party for himself after the Michigan State loss in which he threw every one of his coaches under the bus for the loss in a shameful act of selfishness.

But on the other hand, Urban is Urban and winning is winning. After all the cake and ice cream, all anyone will really ever remember will be that Ohio State won, and Michigan lost. Urban has made a living off of his smile and charming demeanor which has bailed him out of numerous sticky situations involving players skirting or outright thumbing their noses at the rules. Everyone forgives him every single time.

Just win baby. Who gives a shit about the rest, right?

For Michigan, all you can do is look back at a season in which almost everything got better. Instead of an empty offseason, there's a New Year's Day bowl in store. There were 9 wins. There were close finishes and close defeats. I always think it's a good idea, when taking inventory of a season, to take away the most lopsided win and the most lopsided loss and see what's left behind. For Michigan, it's a huge improvement from where we were a year ago.

Despite all of his maniacal wisdom, Jim Harbaugh was never going to just snap his fingers and make Michigan a championship team in year one. And I don't think anyone really expected him to, but you did hope for at least a better effort in the season finale against their biggest rival based on the way things had gone thus far. This Michigan just needs more time to develop. There were gaps and holes left behind by Hoke that can't be filled-in in just one year.

I know it sounds like I'm making excuses, but sometimes there's no other way to sound. We saw these shortcoming against teams that ran a similar spread-to-run offense earlier in the season, like Minnesota and Indiana. Michigan's defense in 2015 was good at the things they were good at...and not so good at the rest. Unfortunately, from a matchup perspective, Ohio State was just the perfect storm. And yeah, injuries to guys like Bryan Mone, Mario Ojemudia and Ryan Glasgow didn't help either.

But don't let this loss lead you, dear Michigan blog reader guy, to think that the sky is falling. It's not.

It was a tough loss to a very good team. A loss that frankly, will likely not happen again under this current administration probably ever. I said it on Saturday night and I'll say it again here...the future is bright for this Michigan of ours.

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