Wolverines reluctantly look ahead to bowl after Big Ten, national title hopes scuttled
Columbus, Ohio — Perhaps, as Michigan safety Tyree Kinnel suggested, the Wolverines started thinking too far ahead to a Big Ten championship and a spot In the College Football Playoff.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was asked if his team was overconfident heading into the annual rivalry game with Ohio State, and he answered without hesitation, “No.”
The Wolverines were blown out, 62-39, at Ohio State on Saturday and with that loss goes all of their goals.
“We all had mindsets of going to the Big Ten championship. We all had mindsets of beating Ohio State,” Kinnel, a co-captain, said. “I felt like we started having that mindset after the Wisconsin game and beat them, beat Michigan State, beat Penn State. We were high on confidence.
“Maybe we got a little too ahead of us. It’s just tough coming into this big of a game and wanting to win and reach our goals. It’s extremely tough.”
So now what?
The Wolverines will get a nice bowl destination, but that’s just it — it’s nice. It’s not the grail. They wanted to play in Indianapolis next Saturday for a Big Ten title. They wanted one of the four coveted playoff spots.
Michigan won 10 games, but lost the season opener at Notre Dame and then the finale at Ohio State. Now the players will look to their four captains for direction as they collect themselves
We’ve got to keep pushing,” running back Chris Evans said. “Our leaders are going to be leaders. Karan (Higdon), Ben Bredeson, Tyree and Devin (Bush). The leaders are going to bring it all together and see what we’ve got to do next.”
What they have to do is finish on a high note and win in the bowl.
“I look at it as I’ve got one more game left as a Michigan Wolverine,” Kinnel said. “As a leader, as a captain, I just want to get the team together and we’ve got to finish on top. I’m pretty sure we’ll be in a pretty good bowl game, and we can’t just down our heads these next three or four weeks.
“We’ve got to keep it together. There’s a lot of young guys on the team that’s going to need these three weeks. It would be great to go into the offseason with a big win. We haven’t done that in a couple years, either. Going to take this last game and try my best.”
Linebacker Devin Bush left the game midway through the third quarter and had to be helped off the field. Harbaugh said he suffered a hip injury.
“I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to be longterm,” Harbaugh said.
Receiver Grant Perry had a hip pointer, and cornerback David Long has a hip flexor strain.
“Believe all three are not longterm kinds of injury,” Harbaugh said.
Tight end Zach Gentry got a concussion and quarterback Shea Patterson, who left the game late, returned and left again “has a contusion on his knee. A knee bruise. A bone bruise,” Harbaugh said.