Michigan has time to heal, reflect after loss

Wolverines start to look toward bowl season

Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree scores a first-quarter touchdown against Ohio State on Saturday in Columbus.  He three passes for 92 yards and a touchdown in a 26-21 loss.
Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree scores a first-quarter touchdown against Ohio State on Saturday in Columbus. He three passes for 92 yards and a touchdown in a 26-21 loss.

COLUMBUS — The Michigan football team remained in the Associated Press top 25 poll. And the Wolverines remained locked in the USA Today coaches poll.

But even before Saturday’s 26-21 loss at No. 4 Ohio State, the Wolverines lost whatever shot they had at playing for a conference title by virtue of Nebraska’s win Friday at Iowa.

And when they had the opportunity to win for pride — and for annual regional bragging rights — the Wolverines folded in the second half against the Buckeyes.

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Against Ohio State, the Wolverines lost a one-point halftime lead, and their offense regressed in the second half, accruing just 60 yards and getting minimal production from its backfield.

“We prepared well,” said Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree, who caught three passes for 92 yards and a touchdown against Ohio State. “It was a tough game, but we just need to look at the mistakes we made and improve.”

Yet instead of preparing for and playing in Saturday’s Big Ten title game in Indianapolis, the Wolverines will not play football for the first time since their bye weekend on Sept. 29 — a week after a 13-6 loss at No. 1 Notre Dame and a week before a 44-13 win at Purdue in their Big Ten opener.

While Nebraska and Wisconsin play for a conference championship and the right to play in the Rose Bowl, Michigan will now prepare to play in a bowl game — which means more than a month off between football games.

That will mean more time for quarterback Denard Robinson to heal. Since sustaining an injury to the ulnar nerve in his right arm in late October, the senior sat out two games and has not thrown one pass in Michigan’s last two games, instead primarily running the ball for the Wolverines.

However, Robinson’s carries dwindled after halftime; he finished with 122 yards on 10 carries, after having 124 yards on six carries at the half.

Robinson said after Saturday’s loss that he felt well enough to throw the ball — though he hasn’t thrown in a game since October 27 in the loss at Nebraska.

“We went with the plays coach was calling, and we thought we would be successful,” Robinson said. “However, I do feel comfortable throwing the ball.”

Michigan coach Brady Hoke will meet with the media at 12:30 today, his only media availability this week. The Wolverines (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten), ranked No. 21 in this week’s AP top 25 and No. 24 in this week’s USA Today Coaches Poll, expect to learn which bowl they will play in on Sunday.

Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com projects that Michigan will face Georgia of the Southeastern Conference in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2013, in Orlando, Fla.

The Capital One Bowl pits the Big Ten’s No. 2 team against the SEC’s No. 2 team, while the Outback Bowl in Tampa pits the Big Ten’s No. 3 team against an SEC opponent. The Capital One Bowl will announce its selections Sunday.

RECORDS SET: Michigan defensive end Craig Roh made his 50th consecutive start on Saturday, tying former offensive lineman Jon Jansen's record.

Roh also has the most consecutive and total starts among Michigan defensive linemen.

Linebacker Jake Ryan forced two fumbles against Ohio State to set a new Michigan single-season record with five. Ryan has six career forced fumbles, which ties him for third all-time at Michigan with Mike Taylor and Shawn Crable.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.