The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2022 THE WOLVERINE 27 from senior kicker Jake Moody, who won the Lou Groza Award for the country's best placekicker, including a game-winner from 39 yards out with 1:24 to play to seal the victory. U-M players had been saying the vibe had changed and that their group was "different" than past squads, and those two games served as proof that the out- come at the end of the year could be some- thing other than status quo. The Wolverines had won 10 games three times under Harbaugh, but had not de- feated Ohio State or appeared in the Big Ten title game with Harbaugh in charge. "This team has decided to be different this year," McNamara said after the victory over the Cornhuskers. "It's not so much what you see football-wise — it's the at- mosphere we've created and the mindset that we've rebuilt this offseason. "We're tired of losing. It's that simple. We've lost too many games over the last couple years. It's a common mindset amongst the team, that we're tired of los- ing, and we chose to be different." While the Oct. 30 loss to in-state rival Michigan State (37-33) was devastating at the time, U-M took on the mantra of "making someone else pay," beating its final four opponents in the regular season en route to the Big Ten title game in Indy. Adversity struck against the No. 8 Spar- tans in East Lansing, but the Wolverines didn't flinch, and instead used the setback as fuel for the rest of the season. The win over the Buckeyes was the highlight of the year — no question — but U-M wouldn't have had the opportunity to play for league title on that snowy day if it didn't gut out a hard-fought win in State College Nov. 13. The 23rd-ranked Nittany Lions were on the brink of all but elimi- nating U-M from conference champion- ship contention, up 17-14 with less than five minutes to go. But McNamara found junior Erick All on a drag route that went the distance for a 47-yard score. The tight end was at 75 percent health while recovering from a high-ankle sprain, but he jetted down the sideline to pay dirt. The Wolverines followed that up by avoiding a trap-game loss at Maryland, beating the Terrapins 59-18 and setting up the first top-five showdown at The Big House since 2003. At Big Ten Media Days last July, Har- baugh proclaimed that Michigan would beat Ohio State, "or die trying." Many around college football laughed at the time, but the Wolverines had the last laugh amidst an epic field storming after the 42- 27 victory at The Big House Nov. 27. The offense was efficient, scoring on each of its last four drives (other than the kneel down at the end) and never running a third-down snap in the second half. The bend-don't-break defense led by Mac- donald was perhaps even more stellar. Macdonald's group forced two field goals on four red-zone trips, came up with 10 third-down stops on 18 attempts, committed zero penalties, made 8 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and sacked OSU quarterback C.J. Stroud 4 times. Senior defensive end Aidan Hutchin- son, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, was responsible for 3 sacks, including 2 on third downs. No team — let alone a single player — had notched 3 sacks against the Buckeyes on the season until Hutchinson. He broke U-M's single-season sack record that afternoon, notching 14 on the year. Junior outside linebacker David Ojabo sealed the win with a huge quarterback takedown on OSU's final possession. Both edge rushers were key to U-M's success, and each earned All-America honors. Hutchinson was a consensus first-team pick, and Ojabo was a second- team selection by the Associated Press. The 27 points marked the second-low- est total the Buckeyes scored all year. The U-M defense ranked eighth in the country with 17.4 points allowed per game, but no performance was more im- pressive than the regular-season finale against Ohio State's top-ranked offense. U-M rode its high to Indianapolis, and dismembered the Iowa Hawkeyes, 42-3, earning the No. 2 seed in the College Foot- ball Playoff. The Wolverines drew Georgia, which had been ranked No. 1 most of the season until falling to Alabama in the SEC title game, but the matchup proved to be too challenging. The Bulldogs dominated and won 34-11 New Year's Eve at the Orange Bowl. U-M was two wins short of its first national championship since 1997, while Georgia went on to exact revenge against Alabama in the national title game. ❏ Runners-Up 1. Wrestling — Paced by Myles Amine's 6-4 overtime win at 184 pounds over de- fending national champion and No. 1 ranked Aaron Brooks of Penn State, Michigan won its first Big Ten title since 1973, knocking off the Nittany Lions, the overwhelm- ing favorites. Then, led by six All-Americans, the Wolverines placed second at the NCAA Cham- pionships, tying their best finish with the 1928, 1929, 1967, 1974 and 2005 teams. Michigan went 12-1 in duals and posted a 7-1 Big Ten record to finish tied for sec- ond in the conference standings. 2. Gymnastics — Under interim head coach Yuan Xiao, who was promoted after the season, U-M won the 2022 Big Ten championship meet and a share of the league regular-season title to go along with a third-place finish at NCAAs. The Wolverines boasted two NCAA individual titles and 11 All-America selections while posting a 24-3 record. 3. Hockey — Michigan won its 10th Big Ten Tournament title and advanced to its NCAA-leading 26th Frozen Four, recording a 31-10-1 record on the year. The Maize and Blue fell to eventual national champion Denver in overtime of the national semifinal. The Wolverines featured three All-Americans, marking the first time they've had more than one earn the distinction since 2016. 4. Baseball — The regular season was rocky, with Michigan posting a 28-25 overall record and 12-12 mark in Big Ten play. But the Wolverines turned it up at the most important time of the year, as they so often did under Erik Bakich, who departed for Clemson after the season. The Wolverines notched wins over the top four seeds to capture the Big Ten Tour- nament and receive an automatic NCAA Tournament berth, their fifth in 10 years under Bakich. The No. 3 seed in its regional, U-M beat Oregon and host Louisville to begin the event's first weekend, before falling to the Cardinals in two straight games to end the season. — Clayton Sayfie

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