Michigan was third unluckiest team of 2012, according to ESPN
Devin Gardner heaved the ball deep as time was running short against Northwestern. He overthrew Roy Roundtree.
But the defender batted the ball into the air, and Roundtree caught it off the carom. Michigan kicked a game-tying field goal on the next play to force overtime, and went on to win the game.
A lucky break.
For an unlucky team -- at least according to ESPN.
Brian Fremeau of ESPN ranked the top-five unluckiest teams of 2012, and pegged the Wolverines third, trailing only Michigan State and Oklahoma State.
He noted Michigan, which finished 8-4, was victimized by playing one of the nation's most difficult schedules. It lost to No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State, as well as No. 23 Nebraska.
Those teams combined for a record of 46-4, and Michigan played each away from home.
Michigan was on the lucky side of the equation last year, which was why we had identified them as a top candidate to regress in 2012. The schedule was as brutal as predicted: Michigan lost four times to teams with a combined record of 46-4, and the two losses to undefeated Notre Dame and Ohio State came by only 12 points combined. The Wolverines lost the turnover battle in both of those games (minus-6), costing Michigan 19.3 points of scoreboard value, according to our game splits analysis. Turnovers were the big boost for the Wolverines in the first year of the Brady Hoke era, and they were the critical factor preventing Michigan from turning in another double-digit winning season this year.
Michigan's defensive success has been strong in each of the last two years, ranking among the top-20 in opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency. The Wolverines were especially effective in limiting opponent big plays, giving up an "explosive drive" (possession that average at least 10 yards per play) on only 3.4 percent of opponent drives, the second-best rate in the nation behind Notre Dame.
BYU and Cincinnati rounded out ESPN's list of unluckiest teams.
The luckiest teams were Ohio State, LSU, Stanford, Louisville and Notre Dame.
-- Download the Michigan football on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Download the Michigan basketball on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Follow Kyle Meinke and Nick Baumgardner on Twitter
-- Like MLive's Michigan Wolverines Facebook page