It’s been over a week since the Michigan football team ended its regular season on the sourest possible note. And while the Wolverines have had time for their bodies to recover, they still haven’t fully healed from the 42-13 beating Ohio State handed them.
There is a silver lining: No. 14 Michigan was invited to play Florida in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day. But in advance of the bowl game, senior linebacker Joe Bolden opened up about the emotions surrounding their regular-season-ending loss.
“To be 100 percent honest, I’m not over either one of the losses (to Michigan State or Ohio State),” Bolden said. “It’s just crazy to think about. I guess in a way, both us and Ohio State were that close to finishing Michigan State, and it’s not something that we’re happy about. Or, at least I can speak for myself, it’s not something I’m happy about.
“I think it’s a good opportunity that we have with the Citrus Bowl, and with a solid opponent in Florida to end the season on a good note and get these guys and get everybody rolling into next year.”
After hearing Bolden’s comments, fifth-year senior center Graham Glasgow leaned forward and cosigned his statement.
“For the record, I am also not happy about those two losses,” he said.
The Buckeyes scored more points on the Wolverines than any other team this season — 42, one more than Indiana’s 41 in a double-overtime Michigan win — and likely kept Michigan from making a New Year’s Six bowl in Jim Harbaugh’s first season as coach.
And other than the 29-point blowout, the Wolverines were in both of their other losses this season. They lost by seven at Utah in Week 1, and were one miraculous fumbled punt away from beating Michigan State.
“I think, really, the common factor when you look at all three of our losses this year is not tackling,” Bolden said.
That was certainly the case against the Buckeyes, as J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott perfectly executed the read-option offense. The game turned into a blowout in the second half, making Michigan’s final loss of the season the most excruciating. It was the last game the Wolverines’ seniors played at Michigan Stadium.
“It was pretty emotional for me, just like seeing my teammates in (Michigan Stadium) for the last time, and being with Kyle and the O-line, we have our own little nook in the locker room where we all sit together,” Glasgow said. “It was pretty emotional. Never want to go out like that, and that probably added to it, and it is something that we’re trying to get over, something that I’m trying to get over by winning the last game.”
Added Bolden: “It’s hard to describe, especially the way it happened. … We got our butts kicked — there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. And it’s just hard to fathom, you come in, and you remember the exact time you first put the uniform on, and you button your chinstrap on the helmet, and it’s just hard to fathom that that was the last game here in front of the home fans that we love so dearly.”
But while it’s understandable that Glasgow, Bolden and every other Wolverine senior would be torn up after losing to Ohio State for the fourth consecutive year, they were also able to keep a sense of perspective about the direction of the program under coach Jim Harbaugh.
“I think that this program is rising very quickly, and I think that it could (compete for a Big Ten title) as soon as next year,” Glasgow said. “I think that the guys that we’re losing are going to be replaced by more than capable and able guys, and talented guys, and I think that they’ll be a good team next year.”