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TEMPE, Ariz. — Devin Funchess didn’t hold back when asked what he would take from the Michigan football team’s 2013 season.
"We don't want this season ever to happen again,” the sophomore tight end said. “Not a season where we’re 7-6. We don’t want that again. We’ve got to fight to a 10-win season.”
Saturday night in the desert, a 31-14 loss to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl was the final game in a season that began with promise and Heisman Trophy hopes, yet ended with a face-first flop.
Against the Wildcats, UM’s running game never found its footing and finished with 65 yards on 15 carries. The Wolverines punted the ball five times to Kansas State’s one punt, and only had possession of the ball for less than 10 minutes of the second half. Furthermore, Kansas State shredded Michigan’s defense, which had already struggled in the final month of the regular season.
PHOTO GALLERY: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
“We didn't play well enough today in a lot of areas,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “Third-down conversions on both sides of the ball, in the red zone we didn't play well enough. When you don't do that and your offense can't get on the field, you give up a couple big plays in there defensively.”
While Michigan scored on all three of its red-zone opportunities — two field goals by Matt Wile and a late touchdown by Fitzgerald Toussaint — UM was 4 of 11 on third-down conversions against Kansas State and finished 71 for 181 (39 percent) on third-down conversions this season. After the loss, UM offensive coordinator Al Borges declined comment as he left the locker room.
The Wolverines also lost bragging rights. With Notre Dame’s win in the Pinstripe Bowl and Michigan’s loss, the Fighting Irish supplanted the Wolverines as the winningest program in college football, on the basis of winning percentage (.733-.732)
Saturday’s loss to Kansas State ended a season that was mediocre by Ann Arbor standards and included late-game wins over Akron and Connecticut and late-game losses at Penn State and Iowa.
“It comes down to a matter of execution and consistency,” linebacker Desmond Morgan said. “It’s kind of been the same story all season.”
Freshman quarterback Shane Morris replaced Devin Gardner (turf toe) and provided a glimmer of hope. In his first collegiate start, Morris was 24 for 38 passing for 196 yards.
Even though Jeremy Gallon set a single-season receiving record for UM (1,373 yards), that was of cold comfort to the senior.
“Right now, I don’t care about the record,” Gallon said. “The record right now doesn’t mean anything without a win."