Michigan fell just short of its goals to take down Ohio State and ruin the Buckeyes’ second-consecutive perfect regular season. But in doing so, the Wolverines played their best football of the year. These helmet stickers were the hardest to divvy up because really, so many people earned them. But here are the three winners:
QB Devin Gardner. The redshirt junior was a champ. He battled and fought and gave every piece of himself for Michigan this season. And when he was limping on Saturday and Brady Hoke told him to stop limping because so many of his teammates could too, he did. He finished the day 32-of-45 for 451 yards and four passing touchdowns. He ran for another touchdown. Gardner knew he needed to play his best, most consistent football of the season to give Michigan a chance, and he did. His final two minute drill to give the Wolverines a chance to win it with a two-point conversion would likely make any former Michigan quarterback proud.
Michigan’s offensive line. No group has made a greater jump in one week than the offensive line did from last weekend against Iowa to Saturday against Ohio State. The five linemen protected Gardner, and though they did allow three sacks, had the Wolverines brought last month’s performance to the Ohio State game, it could’ve been eight or nine sacks. As a unit, it opened holes and made blocks for Derrick Green, De'Veon Smith and Fitzgerald Toussaint.
WR Jeremy Gallon. The senior accounted for just one touchdown, but his 175 receiving yards were the most by any Michigan player ever against Ohio State. Because of what he has done this season, he was a player that Ohio State needed to keep its eye on and with a lot of the focus on Gallon, things opened up for Jake Butt, Drew Dileo and Devin Funchess. Those three guys also played well, but with a shortage of stickers, the one in the wide receiver group has to go to Gallon.
Honorable mention: Michigan linebackers. With James Ross out, freshman Ben Gedeon stepped in and the linebackers didn’t miss a beat. Gedeon, Joe Bolden, Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan and Cam Gordon accounted for 23 tackles (including three for losses), two sacks and one fumble recovery. Michigan needed the middle of its defense to be stout and it showed up. Unfortunately, the Wolverine defense gave up nearly 400 rushing yards and a lot of those missed tackles were from the linebackers.