Michigan: Five things we learned vs. Ohio State

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan quarterback John O'Korn and head coach Jim Harbaugh confer during Saturday's game against Ohio State, which ended in a 31-20 Buckeyes' victory.

Here are five takeaways from The Detroit News' Angelique S. Chengelis following Michigan's 31-21 loss to Ohio State.

Losing this game hurts

Losing any game hurts, but there is something about losing to Ohio State that is eviscerating for the Wolverines. Just look at last season’s double-overtime loss, just look at Saturday’s loss after building a 14-0 lead. Michigan has lost six straight and are 1-13 now, and watching quarterback John O’Korn break down at the postgame news conference was difficult. At least one Michigan player has already tweeted the date of next year’s Michigan-Ohio State game in Columbus, so we know they already are thinking of it. This game measures Michigan as much as it measures Ohio State, and for some time now, the Wolverines have fallen short. Can they flip that trend? Well, they’ll have to wait another year to find out.

Looking forward not back

After the loss to Ohio State, the Michigan players did not want to dwell on the season or the game but said they’re looking to the bowl game to earn a ninth win and springboard into the offseason on a high. That has been the approach for the most part this season after losses — have short-term memory, don’t dwell on the defeats, improve and move on. A four-loss season is not what the players envisioned, of course, and they certainly did not think they would go through a season never beating a team with a winning record or losing both of their rivalry games. There is so much youth on this team, there seems to be no danger that the group will become mired in self-pity. There is resilience there. They knew they had a good game plan against Ohio State and, ultimately, failed to execute at key times. But they are moving on.

Backs run hard

Michigan finished with 100 rushing yards, but they were hard yards earned by Chris Evans and Karan Higdon. Evans ran with a particular edge and also had five catches for 34 yards. He was instrumental in the game plan and kept drives alive. Higdon wasn’t fully healed, but he played and ran hard as he has all season. He scored a touchdown, adding to his team-best total of 11 for the season. Heading into the bowl game, the duo has scored 17 touchdowns.

A lifetime of Harbaugh?

There was a story last week from a radio appearance by Fox’s Brady Quinn that he heard from “kind of an insider within the program” that Michigan is working on a lifetime contract for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. The News was not able to confirm that something like that is in the works, and, in fact, it was suggested that nothing along those lines had been broached. Perhaps the concept was floated to Quinn from kind of an insider to put a rest to all the Harbaugh-to-the-NFL rumors. Harbaugh was asked after the Ohio State loss about the chatter regarding a lifetime contract and was that a “distraction” for him or the team during the week. “No,” Harbaugh said. “Fake news. That was irrelevant.”

Where are the ratings?

The Michigan-Ohio State game drew Fox’s best-metered market rating ever for a regular-season college game with a 6.7 rating. That beat the network’s previous record of 6.4 from the Penn State-Ohio State game earlier this year. It was the first time Fox has broadcast the Michigan-Ohio State game, and this was the lowest rating for the game in three years. The double-overtime thriller last season between the two top-three-ranked teams drew a 10.4 rating and the game in 2015 drew a 6.8.


Twitter: @chengelis