An entirely new Michigan team showed up Saturday in a tight loss to Ohio State. Here are three things we learned in the regular season finale:
1. There’s life. Most thought this game was over before it started. Or that it would be over by the end of the first quarter. But the Wolverines showed up and took it to the Buckeyes. Devin Gardner put together his best game of the year despite being injured during the game and the run game finally appeared. The defense -- though it gave up 393 rushing yards -- played well enough to give the Michigan offense a chance to win the game at the end. With a month off to rehab their bodies, get back to the fundamentals and continue to grow, this could be a team that actually looks attractive in a bowl game. For their Big Ten title hopes it was too little, too late. But still, there's life in the Wolverines.
2. Brady Hoke still has plenty of confidence in this group. The Wolverines haven't really given the Michigan faithful a lot to have faith in, but Hoke showed -- on his fourth down call in the third quarter as well as his desire to go for the two-point conversion at the end of the game -- he still believes in this group. The play calling as a whole seemed to mesh much better with the players and few seemed to disagree with the decisions to go for the fourth down or the two-point conversion. Hoke knows that Michigan-OSU is a game you play to win and because of the game plan and calls Hoke made, he gave his team a chance to do that.
3. With the growth of the O-line comes offensive gains. So this isn't necessarily something we learned in game, but it's something that Michigan showed in game. The youth and inexperience on the O-line has killed so many plays for the Wolverines and put them in terrible down-and-distance situations. However, against Ohio State, the O-line got push and opened holes so that Gardner and the running backs could make plays on first and second downs. With a month (or so) to prepare for a bowl game, this offensive line group will be able to gel even more and could grow by leaps and bounds in that span.