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Posted on Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

Michigan's senior class needed streak-ending win over Ohio State

By Kyle Meinke


A fan holds a sign thanking the Michigan football team's seniors during the Wolverines' game against Ohio State.

Melanie Maxwell I

David Molk had blood stains spattered along his leg. Denard Robinson had more blood, somehow, on his butt.

Ryan Van Bergen had tears in his eyes. So did Kevin Koger.

It was as though they had been through battle. They had.

It was as though they had been through hell. They have.

And now, they're back.

The 17th-ranked Michigan football team beat Ohio State, 40-34, on Saturday and exorcised the demons that have haunted this program for about seven years.

This weekend, that misery ends, thanks largely to a group of seniors who went through football hell. The fifth-years played for three coaches, the first group to do so since the 1920s. They were winless against their biggest rival, winless against their second biggest rival, and championship-less.

And, left with one chance to change any of that, they did. They conquered Ohio State, and helped end a nightmare that began almost a decade ago -- when the seniors were in middle school.

It validates a 10-2 season.

"It couldn’t feel any better," said Molk, a captain who had been outscored 100-24 by Ohio State in three previous seasons. "I mean, going through what we’ve gone through? This is my third coach, third offensive coordinator, third offensive line coach, third strength coach."

Then, the center's voice rising: "It’s been a lot, and it’s been a roller-coaster that, for some reason, never seemed like it would ever get good. But, you know what? We kept fighting."

That fight began 10 months ago with the hire of coach Brady Hoke -- a home-run hire for the 10 wins, the six Big Ten wins, the looming BCS bid, the top-flight recruiting class -- and now, a win against Ohio State.

To Hoke, that's what matters most. He called The Game the most important game when he was hired, pounding a podium seven times to drive home that point. Molk made it clear just how much more Hoke emphasized this game than predecessor Rich Rodriguez.

"One thousand times more," he said.

Michigan (10-2, 6-2) broke every team meeting with "Beat Ohio!" -- reflective of the pet name Hoke has used for the Buckeyes "since always," and one fans have taken as their own.

Ditto for team group drills in practice. And there were countdown clocks, too.

But clocks and cheers and pet names don't win football games. Hoke said it would come down to the play and leadership of his seniors, which sounds like flowery coachspeak.

It proved true, though. Seniors helped direct the focus of this team and temper their emotions Friday during the walk-through and at the team hotel, and again Saturday before the game. Then, three of them caught touchdown passes, including little-used Martavious Odoms, once shuffled out of the lineup this year, for the third consecutive game.


Michigan tight end Kevin Koger smiles as he greets coach Brady Hoke during a ceremony for seniors before the start of the game against Ohio Sate.

Melanie Maxwell I

Koger, a senior captain, scored on a 4-yard score with 8:32 left that proved to be the game-winner.

Hoke, who embraced many of his seniors during a pregame ceremony, kissing some, lauded his seniors after the game. And they lauded him.

"He is us, we are him. I love him," Molk said. "I would do anything for him."

What they did was win nine games coming into this one, win five Big Ten games, win back their dignity. All that was left was beat the Buckeyes.

"I think we needed this win to solidify what we’ve done this season," Van Bergen said. "I didn’t want to say it before the game, because I didn’t want to put the pressure on my teammates, but I think it solidifies what we’ve done as a team.

"This game is more than a win in the column. It’s bigger than that, it encompasses way more."

They prevailed, with lots of offense, led by Robinson's best game at Michigan. Ever. He was 14-of-17 passing for 167 yards, ran 26 times for 170 yards and accounted for five touchdowns.

It will go down as one of the best performances by a Michigan quarterback in the history of this rivalry.

Then, after a review that called back a Fitz Toussaint touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, then a double-penalty that forced a field goal, Michigan was clinging to a six-point lead with Ohio State getting the ball back.

Fittingly, though, the defense, which struggled for much of this day against Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and allowed a season high in points, came through when it mattered most. An interception by Courtney Avery sealed the victory.

Only Robinson touching his knee to the turf separated the Wolverines from complete redemption.

And the seniors, who went through depths experienced by no Michigan class in decades, were on top of the world.

"It’s just like the old saying goes: 'Those who stay will be champions,'" Molk said. "It’s been a long time. We’ve been through a lot of stuff.

"But in the end, you truly realize what this place means, the power that block 'M' has on your chest. I love Michigan, there’s no doubt about it, and I don’t care what we had to go through.

"I’ll never forget it."

Neither will we.

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



Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 11:16 p.m.

Interesting Facts: 21 of MIchigan's Players are from OHIO.. The Coach Brady Hoake is born and raised in Ohio , His Dad John Hoake use to Play football for Woody Hayes at the University of Miami in Ohio , Ohio State Had 10 Rookie Defensive Players, A Rookie Quarter Back Braxton Miller . But Still Managed to Play a Very Good Game.. I am Proud of the Buckeye's..

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:31 a.m.

Just goes to show ya that there are a few smart people from Ohio. Good Night and Good Luck

Johnny Smith

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

Some great pictures of Michigan fans rushing the field . . . <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

Luke Fickell in four years as a Buckeye football player only won once against Michigan. It greatly pleases me to see and hear Coach Fickell act and cry like a baby about how his team got beat. His adult side suddenly vanished, and he was left dodging questions about possible replacement Urban Meyer. In the end, Luke couldn't fix the leak in his Ohio River dream boat cruise. I am so pleased with this year's final regular season game. I am literally beaming in my face and am deeply pleased. See me smile - my teeth are gleeming. The laughter and pleasure are overwhelming. I can't stop enjoying this fabulous Michigan victory. Oh, and did I tell you - I am greatly pleased by the outcome.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

It pleases me no end that I am well pleased by this tremendous victory! Do I hear a hallelujah and an AMEN? Those people from the school in Ohio who refuse to see the light, will suffer much the next 365 days or so for their repulsive and unrepentant sins against us. They most definitely lack wisdom. Why won't they repent?

r treat

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

We beat Ohio by 6 points for the win, and we just happened to have beat Florida by 6 points in carrs last game against urban Meyer. Irony? Foreshadowing?


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

The guts and determination shown by this year's senior class was impressive. They've been through a lot of adversity and stuck it out. They ARE champions and Michigan Men. At least this year's team was able to earn a reward of going to a great bowl game after beating OSU. I feel sorry for last year's seniors who had to endure the horrors of the last 3 years and went out on such a low note. Still, they did their part too and things are only looking bright in the future for Michigan football.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 4 p.m.

What a great season! Hoke has really turned these guys into a TEAM. Go Blue!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

Kyle: I don't know where you came from or your background in sports reporting, but you have covered Michigan football and written such meaningful articles and columns so much better than the competition!! I hope that you stay on at or at least in some venue covering the team. This article really captures it. Bo loved his first team of 1969 more than any of his other teams, and I have a feeling that Hoke will feel the same about team 132. And it seems that love is returned to their coach (as it was by the San Diego State team last September). Hoke sometimes says things that are a little rough around the edges, or short, but he is a guy that team will jump through walls for, just as Bo was and likely many of the other classic M coaches. If Hoke can stay healthy (lose that weight!!), he will be embraced by Michigan fans like all the greats and we will indeed be champions of more than just the Ohio game. And I love how he has embraced this team, not distancing its members from his &quot;own guys&quot;. That is the root of our success this year.

Blu n Tpa

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

hbM Well done and I concur with your observations of Kyle's articles/postings since he joined (Not sure if he's going anywhere. You know something I don't?) Do't want him to get a big head but nice balance, with just enough feeling to show support without being a &quot;homer&quot;. Plus, you are good luck for Michigan football. Thanks for all your reverse psychology on &quot;picking&quot; the winner of games this season. TiM Go Blue!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 5:08 a.m.

Wonderful win and a great season for all Michigan players and fans. Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison helped turned the team around through great teaching skills, respect for their players, and their ability to adjust their system to the players they had. Recall that before the season, the emphasis was going to be on more traditional power football with the power I formation. But as the season progressed, the coaches realized that Robinson was the key, and he was best in the option read offense of RichRod, which became the main offensive thrust of the Wolverines. That says a plenty about the coaches.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 4:26 a.m.

Nice article Kyle. You captured so much of the meaning of today's game. The obvious significance of the season and today's game is the brilliant coach and stratigests that are Brady Hoke and his assistants. The less obvious but equally important point is the talent and spirit of the players he coached. I am awed by both.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

@ Rightmind............Excuse me Rightmind , but I speak for all Michigan Men. Why do you think Borges and Hoke are so popular among us ?!! When Borges speaks up and says all the right things it gets our juices flowing. Being a Michigan Man a lot of times means these guys really turn us on. I have a wife just like all of you , but like all of you the coaches feelings about Michigan effect us so strongly that we often find ourselves turned on by these manly men. If you call yourself a Michigan Man, why are you afraid to accept this part of yourself ?


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Wow. It's a bit sad someone could be so unhappy.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:34 a.m.

I'll tell you what we are champions of: We're champions of &quot;The Game&quot;, that's what! What's your deal rightmind250? Huh? What does the 250 signify? Oh nothing you say, that's what I thought. Why don't you go follow your team, whoever that is.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:01 a.m.

Don you are quite the wise one my friend, Go Blue to you!!!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:58 a.m.

I think the phrase that applies to our friend is &quot;compensating&quot; ... aggressive behavior, even on internet boards like this, is often a sign of compensating for other things. Smaller things. ;)

Blu n Tpa

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:24 a.m.

They are Michigan! We are Michigan! This is Michigan! Go Blue!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

&quot;It's just like the old saying goes: 'Those who stay will be champions,'&quot; Molk said. &quot;It's been a long time. We've been through a lot of stuff. Champions of what? I new UM football has been suffering quite a bit, but now the first win over OSU in 8 years makes you champions?


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

Goodnight, strangely juvenile and oddly upset Ohio fan. Did you honestly think your streak wasn't going to end? Have a nice year - savor that last game.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2 p.m.

Your memory is too short, it's 58 wins over Ohio.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 6:08 a.m.

That is the problem with people like you. You do not know what the definition of a champion is. It does not necessarily mean winning the Big Ten ( like OSU has with ineligble players). It does not mean winning a NC by cheating a la USC, it does not mean having the most wins as a coach like the school for rapist PSU. Champions are winner sin life. Something you and your kind will NEVER understand.

Blu n Tpa

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:26 a.m.

That's ok, he can't stay on the internet past light's out. Good night 250.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:17 a.m.

Someone didn't graduate from community college...&quot;I new UM football&quot;


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

Point made ... Michigan is not champion of either the Legends Division or the Big 10. I am coming to realize you are simply the brightest and most outstanding person of all time, rightmind250! It's like your every post is so ... so ... so ... AWESOME! May I have your autograph? Hmmm?

1st Down

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

Koger and Martin, great Captains of Team 132


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

That's the beauty of college football. Constant change. That's what makes it so interesting.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

I worry about replacing Molk at center.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

2 very good players. They will be greatly missed in 2012