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Posted on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Michigan football team basking in Ohio State win, but 'still has a lot to prove' in bowl

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, center, celebrates in the student section after defeating Ohio State last Saturday. The Wolverines will turn their attention to their bowl opponent on Sunday night.

Joseph Tobianski I

The Michigan football team typically spends a day soaking in a game before turning the page on Sunday.

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."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 7:03 a.m.

It's ironic to see all of the gushing about winning 10 games. When my boy LC was coaching, all he got was criticism for winning 9-10 games per year. That was his AVERAGE over 13 years, but not considered good enough by many fans. Now it's the greatest thing ever. I realize the circumstances of this year make it exceptionally impressive. But I hope you can see my point -- it's not easy to win 10 games, much less average that over 13 seasons. My breaking point occurred in '06 when people were calling for his job after taking an 11-0 team to the Shoe and losing by 3 to the #1 team in the country. By that logic, every other coach in the nation should have also been fired that week.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

So, there will be some 15 or 16 more practices to prepare for one opponent. Meantime, anybody who was dinged up gets healthy. I am sure Michigan can shore up the pass defense, besides, what kind of O-line does Houston have, if they were the next opponent for Michigan? Perhaps our defense would do to the Houston QB what they did to Alex Carder of Western in the second half of the season opener. Don't be surprised or underestimate Mattison's Monsters.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 8:48 p.m.

It was not our best game. It was not a perfect game. We did get the monkey off our back and will be ready for ohio and whatever coaching staff they manage to assemble. There were some dandy personal performances in this game. The line play got better every week and the team got better every week. This Michigan team will improve dramatically again next year. It'll be tough starting the year against the Crimson Tide, but it'll be a great start to the season. The best steel is made in the hottest fire. Go Blue!


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

..watched the replay.. D-Nard and Fitz ran like mad Wolverines.. incredible effort.. schmucks played hard too..Great Game.. enjoy , then.. Win the Bowl game.. Go Blue! v


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

I have to ad: Theo, as soon as Denard is gone so is the spread, or the pro/spread mix Michigan uses. So get used to it. I guess you could always change teams, since you won't like Michigan's impending pro-set. Maybe you could root for ohio with UM (Urban Meyer) even though he couldn't beat Michigan in 3 tries with the spread offense.

Lorain Steelmen

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.

#58, Don't be in too much of a hurry to see Denard leave. He IS a great kid, a great athlete, and he IS getting a firm grasp of managing the team. I hope Devin Gardner follows in DRob's footsteps, and I hope Borges, decides to continue with this 'pro/spread mix'. The output this year is slightly ahead of 2010, so it accomodates a tougher defense, as well. Think about it...wouldn't we all LOVE another shot at msu/iowa? We could very easily be 12-0 right now.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

Theo, what is your obsession with the spread offense? Michigan won 10 games this year because of a much improved DEFENSE, and an offense that controlled the ball letting the defense rest. Your hero, who is now coach at Arizona, couldn't win in the Big 10 because he wanted to use that god awful 3-3-5 defense that didn't stop the run or pass. Don't use last year's Auburn team or Oregon as examples. They had great defenses. Auburn had the better defense and won the game. If the spread and pistol were so good why isn't the entire football world running them, including the NFL?


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

after the game saturday while having a beverage at Dominicks, a long time U-M fan and alum said this is the worst 10-2 team he has ever seen - which may be true I told him in Michigan's history they have only one ten games a handful of times (obviously less games in past) then he changed his tune - this team is far from great and could get rolled over by a good team in a big bowl but so what - they keep winning and what a great season this has been hats off to the seniors who deserve it


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

I think UM had multiple 'big' wins this season. First, beating ND was big for a number of reasons: ND was in the second YEAR with coach Kelley v. only the second GAME for coach Hoke at UM. Plus, UM had to battle back from 17 points down in the 4th quarter! That's impressive. Next, the victory over B10 favorite Nebraska was huge. Not only did UM beat them, they destroyed them. No way anyone saw that coming, especially at the beginning of the season. Further, Nebraska, like ND, beat MSU easily. Those are two quality victories. Third, the victory over Ohio was HUGE regardless of their record. That team was loaded with talent, had all of their suspended starters back, and was playing against virtually the same personnel from UM that they had rolled 37-7 the year before. Outstanding win. Throw in the bounce back victories over Purdue and Illinois, and this team had some outstanding wins along the way. True, there have been better Michigan teams over the years...but none that have made the fans and alumni more proud of their accomplishments.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

Well, they won all the games they were supposed to win and a few they possibly should not have. Coming off the disaster of the last 3 years, this was a great starting point. Plus beating Ohio always feels good, especially after such a long drought. Since Bo came to Michigan, I think the record is nearly even between the two teams. That is amazing to me.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Houston has incredible talent at the offensive skilled positions. If the voters had an inkling as to what college football means, here would be the Crystal Bowl: Houston/Oregon. (With lots of changes, I can see Our Mighty Blue courting Crystal soon). Run The Spread, or run The Pistol. Run them well, and drink from Crystal. (Thanks, Kyle, for great reporting all year).


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

Actually, I rather like watching Oregon play football. Not just because of the spread ... which, truth to tell, seems to be morphing into a bit of spread and a bit of power-up-the-middle type stuff. I like Oregon because of the intensity of movement to the ball. Their defense *swarms* to the ball. Their defensive lateral pursuit is awesome. If it's Wisconsin / Oregon in the Rose it could be a long night for the Badgers. Bielema has a tendency to try to match what the opponent's offense is doing. Wisconsin's best defense will be keeping the ball out of Darren Thomas's hands.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 7:51 p.m.

Oregon would *crush* Houston. Houston puts up gaudy numbers, but against inferior defenses. Oregon, on the other hand, has a pretty darn good defense to match their offensive talents. Oregon's defense would be in Houston's backfield all night. Probably get 7 sacks on Keenum.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

It is so great that the seniors get to have the experience of Ann Arbor the day of an OSU win at home.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Its awesome that the seniors got the last laugh against OSU. This team has definitely came a long way since the previous few years. Their playing good right now, and whether or not they go to a BCS game, the team they play will be another good test of where their at. One thing I'd bet on though, is that they will not show up completely unprepared and unmotivated like last years bowl game.