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Michigan so close, but still too far away in loss to Wisconsin

Isaiah Hole/247Sports

For as many plays as there are in a football game, most contests hinge on just a handful of snaps. On Saturday, two plays in particular cost Michigan the game.

The punt return

There are three ways to read this. Either the Wolverine punt coverage got lazy as soon as the ball hit the ground, it’s natural to pull up when a football bounces because you have no idea where it’s going or the refs missed a block in the back. I can’t tell you which interpretation is correct, but in a game where points were going to be hard to come by, spotting Wisconsin seven made the margin of error from that point on razor-thin. Call it bad luck if you want, but Michigan seems to have a lot of bad luck on special teams in crucial spots during big games in the Harbaugh-era.

Peters is knocked out of the game

This rankles. Not because it was unpredictable, but because it seems more preventable. Has there ever been a line so generally good at run-blocking and so bad at pass-blocking?

Wolverine quarterbacks were sacked twice and hurried five times by the box score, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Peters and O’Korn were under pressure all game and taking way too many hits. It’s one thing when poor pass-blocking makes it hard for your team to win that particular game, but it’s a whole other thing when poor pass-blocking makes it hard for your team to win any game because your quarterbacks keep getting carted off the field.

No quarterback stays clean forever, but with fewer hits comes fewer chances to get injured. That hit might have been dirty, but if the defender doesn’t have a chance to hit Peters, then he doesn’t have a chance to drive Peters into the ground and cause the injury.

The QB ambulance rides this season – the last one with Speight in the Purdue game – definitely cost Michigan the Michigan State game and might have cost it this one, too.

Donovan Peoples-Jones is rounding into form, and he and Peters were just getting their timing down. Put all that on pause for next season. I would think Peters getting a brain scan would put his availability in question for the bowl game, let alone next week against Ohio State.

Speaking of Ohio State, the Buckeyes were probably going to be touchdown favorites in Ann Arbor. Minus Peters, call it two. Yikes.

The defense

It’s totally fine. It gave up 17 points on the road to the fifth-ranked team in the country. That’s still a championship-caliber D.

The overreaction

This game has people turning on each other like it’s the Rich Rod era. Former Michigan WR and current BTN analyst tweeted his outrage that backup QB John O’Korn had a scholarship.

The tweet was deleted, but Michigan FB Khalid Hill clapped right back:

Edwards being a jerk to John O’Korn is certainly classless, but in general, I’m not sure why Michigan fans were so sure this game should have been a win anyway. The Wolverines lost a boatload of starters off a three-loss team, and the weak Hoke/Harbaugh hybrid recruiting class is still working its way through the program. This season had four losses all over it from the start, including this one.

Next week will be similarly displeasing, but now’s not the time to panic. If these losses are still happening next year or two years from now, hit that button. But for now, be patient. If the last ten years taught Michigan fans anything, it should be that.

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Eric Coughlin
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