The season began for the Michigan Wolverines with hopes of making the annual game with the Ohio State Buckeyes have a rematch in the Big Ten Championship Game. After yesterday’s loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, however, the reality is looking more like an invite to the Meineke Car Care Bowl at best.
Yesterday Michigan outperformed Nebraska in many statistical categories. The Wolverines threw for more yards, had fewer penalties, won the turnover battle and had a five minute time of possession advantage. Unfortunately for them they had another absolutely putrid day running the ball that translated into an inability to score points.
Michigan’s defense has made them the Big Ten’s polar opposite of the Indiana Hoosiers. While the Hoosiers have an offense that can beat almost anyone but struggle to play complementary defense, the Wolverines have played defense well enough to win but have struggled to score the necessary points to bring home victories. Over the past two weeks, Michigan has allowed an average of 23 points and 333 yards of total offense on top of forcing three turnovers.
Those respective defensive performances are lost when the Wolverines come up on the short side of the final score though. If the Wolverines can’t do better than their average of 34 yards rushing and nine points from the past two weeks, then their next three games will net them the same results. The Northwestern Wildcats are averaging 28 points per game, the Iowa Hawkeyes 26 and the Buckeyes 48.
If the Wolverines can’t recover offensively and push their losing streak to five games, finishing the season 6-6, it’s possible that they may get passed over completely when the bowl game invites get delved out. It’s unlikely based on the fan base and reputation for traveling well that Michigan has, but it would be hard to criticize the promoters of any bowl game for passing on a team that can’t run the ball for positive yardage.