Season Review: Michigan falls short of goals

“Disappointing” is the only label to put on this season. Yes, this largely is a young roster under construction for a program that probably is still a year away from blossoming.

Still, the 2013 campaign opened with most projecting Michigan to win the Legends Division. But after a 5-0 start, the Wolverines flopped, finishing fifth in the division with a 3-5 mark.

And things could have been worse if not for narrow victories vs. Akron and UConn, who each inexplicably pushed the Wolverines to the limit. The biggest issue all season was an erratic offense that struggled to get a consistent push up front, as Michigan ranked 11th in the Big Ten in rushing (130.8 ypg). And things broke down from there for the No. 10 offense in the Big Ten (382.8 ypg).

The defense also did little to distinguish itself, lacking playmakers. Bottom line: Michigan has now gone 10 seasons since it last won the Big Ten in 2004. Much will be expected from Brady Hoke in Year Four next season.

[ MORE: Final B1G standings | Michigan's 2013 results | 2013 stats ]

Record: 7-5 overall; 3-5 Big Ten

Bowl: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. Kansas State

High point: A rousing 41-30 win over Notre Dame in the second game of the season cast the Wolverines as an elite Big Ten team and had some touting Devin Gardner as a Heisman contender. A 42-13 thrashing of Minnesota in Ann Arbor in the Little Brown Jug game on Oct. 5 pushed Michigan to 5-0. Yes, there had been close calls and alarm bells sounded in ugly wins vs. Akron (28-24) and at UConn (24-21), but the Wolverines still could point to the “zero” in their loss column. Maybe this team was capable of big things in 2013. Alas, it went 2-5 in its last seven games.

[ MORE: See all of Dienhart's 2013 Big Ten season reviews ]

Low point: On Nov. 2, Michigan visited Michigan State and received a merciless beating from the Spartans. MSU won 29-6, rationing the Wolverines to 168 yards and holding them to a school single-game record-low minus-48 yards rushing thanks largely to seven sacks. It was the most lopsided loss in the series for Michigan since 1967. Most noteworthy: It was one of the most embarrassing moments in the proud history of Michigan football. The Spartans have won five of the last six meetings in this series, making any notion of MSU being Michigan’s “little brother” laughable.

Offensive MVP: WR Jeremy Gallon. He was at his best in a wild 63-47 win vs. Indiana on Oct. 19, catching 14 passes for a Big Ten single-game record 369 yards and averaging 26.4 yards per grab with two touchdowns. It also was the second most receiving yards in a game in FBS history. The senior finished the season with 80 receptions for 1,284 yards with nine touchdowns.

Defensive MVP: CB Blake Countess. He was a first-team All-Big Ten choice by the media. The sophomore paced the league with six interceptions, running one back for a touchdown. He also broke up 10 passes for the No. 4 pass-efficiency defense in the Big Ten.

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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Tim Pertler on 12/23/2013 @ 12:35pm EDT Said:

Blake Countess should be wearing a #2 Legends jersey honoring Charles Woodson ASAP!