Michigan football team basking in Ohio State win, but 'still has a lot to prove' in bowl
Joseph Tobianski I AnnArbor.com
Not this time.
The 17th-ranked Wolverines (10-2, 6-2) still are riding high after their 40-34 win Saturday against Ohio State, which snapped a seven-game losing streak to their biggest rival. And they're going to enjoy it for as long as possible.
It's also been a time of reflection for the team's seniors, who have only one game left before moving on.
"I think about the journey that these guys, especially my class, have been through," senior defensive tackle Mike Martin said Monday during the team's weekly news conference. "We've been through the mud and back, and it's a testament to our perseverance as a group.
"We lost a few guys, for whatever reason, but the guys that stuck around, that's why I love the phrase coach (Bo) Schembechler used: 'Those who stay will be champions.' It's something that means a lot to us, something that we can really relate to us.
"Even though we didn't win the Big Ten championship, we still came a long way, and the season is still not over. We still have one more, and we're going to do whatever we can to make sure it's a 'W.'"
The Wolverines accomplished a lot this year, including winning 10 games for the first time since 2006, finishing with a winning record in Big Ten play for the first time since 2007 and beating Ohio State for the first time since 2003. But they did not win a Big Ten title, which coach Brady Hoke had declared as the team's primary mission during its media day in August.
That leaves only the bowl game, possibly at the BCS level, to prove they're back among the nation's best. (For an analysis of Michigan's BCS scenarios, click here.)
Hoke said practices for the postseason will not begin until the team learns of its bowl pairing on Sunday night. He said the team will remain "active" this week, but no organized practices are scheduled.
When drills do begin, Hoke said they would, at first, focus on fundamentals and developing young players before moving on to the bowl game plan.
Until that starts, though, he's going to enjoy this one.
Hoke said he hasn't even had enough time to read all the text messages he's received since Saturday.
"It’s nice and it’s great that people want to congratulate you, but we’re not done with this year yet," Hoke said. "Our goal was to win the conference championship, and we didn’t do that, so we have a lot more to prove.”
Hoke said he celebrated Saturday night ... by going out recruiting at the ritzy Chop House restaurant in Ann Arbor. Way to relax, coach.
Martin, on the other hand, had no problem kicking back.
"Ann Arbor was jumpin', and it was special to be able to spend time with my teammates after, and just enjoy the win," he said. "Being able to hang out with the guys on campus, it was a good time."