Season in review: Michigan football

Michigan was the highest-rated Big Ten team in the AP preseason poll at No. 8, but it was undone by youth, injuries and a brutal schedule. The offense struggled much of the season, getting little production from the tailbacks and an inconsistent effort up front in Brady Hoke’s second season in Ann Arbor.

But this is a young team with a bright future that still came close to winning the Legends Division.

Michigan 2012
Date Opponent Result / Time
9/1 at 2 Alabama L 14 – 41
9/8 vs. Air Force W 31 – 25
9/15 vs. Massachusetts W 63 – 13
9/22 at 11 Notre Dame L 6 – 13
10/6 at Purdue W 44 – 13
10/13 vs. Illinois W 45 – 0
10/20 vs. Michigan State W 12 – 10
10/27 at Nebraska L 9 – 23
11/3 at Minnesota W 35 – 13
11/10 vs. Northwestern W 38 – 31
11/17 vs. Iowa W 42 – 17
11/24 at 4 Ohio State L 21 – 26
1/1 vs. 11 South Carolina 1:00 ET

Record: 8-4 overall; 6-2 Big Ten

Bowl: Outback vs. South Carolina

High point: Michigan ended four years of misery vs. Michigan State by taking a 12-10 win on Oct. 20 that pushed the Wolverines to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. Hopes of winning the program’s first Big Ten title since 2004 appeared likely. But a 23-9 loss the next week at Nebraska put Michigan in a hole behind the Cornhuskers it never crawled out of.

Low point: There was much buzz around a season-opening showdown in Arlington, Texas, vs. defending national champion Alabama. But the Wolverines proved to be no match for the powerful Crimson Tide, who rolled to a 41-14 win that wasn’t even that close (Bama had a 31-0 second quarter lead).

It showed the Michigan wasn’t close to being a prime-time player on the national scene.

Offensive MVP: QB Devin Gardner. No one saw this coming in August, when Gardner was being groomed to be primarily a wideout. But after Denard Robinson hurt his throwing elbow Oct. 27 at Nebraska, the junior started the last four games and revived what had been a moribund attack. Gardner hit 63 percent of his passes for 1,005 yards with eight touchdowns and four picks.

[RELATED: Read Tom Dienhart's ongoing series of 2012 football season reviews. ]

Defensive MVP: LB Jake Ryan. The sophomore was sensational, leading the No. 2 Big Ten defense (311.2 ypg) with 84 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and tied for the team lead in sacks with four. Alas, the coaches didn’t make Ryan first- or second-team All-Big Ten. Explain that.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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