Some thoughts on Michigan's 31-20 loss to Ohio State, Wilton Speight and the future.

Patrick Barron
The 2017 edition of The Game felt like an ending. Or a beginning. Two ways to look at it I guess.

On one hand, for the two primary Michigan QB's of the last two years, it was their final game as a member of the Michigan program. For Wilton Speight, he'll move on to another school where better realistic opportunities await. For John O'Korn, his time as a college quarterback is over. Say what you want about his play on the field, which was not good, but John O'Korn the man will be just fine.

On the other hand, for reasons passing understanding I left Michigan Stadium on Saturday feeling pretty upbeat, all things considered. Michigan came into this game with a winning game plan. And 21 of the 22 starters executed that game plan to perfection. I mean seriously, it was a game for the ages if you ignore certain things like overthrows and interceptions. QB woes aside, Michigan played extremely well against a typically good Ohio State team.

If Peters or Wilton are healthy, I think Michigan wins this game. That's not a fluke...Michigan was extremely well prepared for this game and that's worth mentioning here.

But the college football gods have once again smiled on Ohio State in this game. I could come here and rant about the refs, backup QBs, dropped INTs, etc...but that's not the story of this game. This game felt like the start of the future of the Michigan football program. It felt like a transition from one kind of Michigan team, to the next kind of Michigan team. And yeah, the quarterback is a huge part of what the next generation of Michigan's offense is going to be...but the other pieces and parts are there. Right now.

2017 was labeled the rebuilding year. The year where the youngest team in all of college football was to find out who was going to step up. Over the last 12 games, we have found out who some of those guys are going to be. Guys like Karan Higdon and Chris Evans. Guys like Donovan Peoples-Jones, Zach Gentry, Sean McKeon and Brandon Peters. The OL took a step forward this year as well. On defense, pick any returning starter. The talent on that side of the ball...which held Ohio State to zero yards of total offense on their first 10 plays of the game (-6 yards in the 1Q) is astounding. Devin Bush, Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Lavert Hill and David Long headline what will undoubtedly be one of the top rated defenses in the country next season.

Everywhere you look, even on special teams, Michigan brings back experienced talent. Harbaugh talent.

Yeah, this game sucked. It always sucks to lose to Ohio State. But given what I saw on Saturday, the days of losing to the Buckeyes and then wandering through the desert of the offseason looking for hope are over.

In his post-game press conference, Harbaugh reiterated multiple times the need for Michigan to get stronger.

I can only imagine what that's going to look like.

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