Fourteen points.

Michigan’s defense — statistically worse than 81 others in the country — held No. 10 Ohio State to just a pair of touchdowns Saturday. After the unit gave up 26, 30, 25, 38, 38 and 45 points in its six other Big Ten losses, the defense played its best in its biggest game of the season.

But the Wolverine offense surrendered another score on a fumble in the end zone, and freshman quarterback Tate Forcier’s four interceptions ended any hopes Michigan had at winning a bowl-clinching sixth game.

“When you hold a team like Ohio State to 14 points, you expect to have a little bit better result than you did today,” redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen said.

Tears flowed freely in the locker room afterward. The team’s two senior defensive starters, defensive end Brandon Graham and linebacker Stevie Brown, had nothing more left after 60 minutes of rousing football. They are the third straight class to graduate without beating Ohio State.

“I feel really bad for them — even more so because they’re my class,” redshirt junior linebacker Jonas Mouton said. “They left here without ever beating Ohio State, which you know is a terrible thing.”

The 21-10 loss is the Wolverines’ sixth in a row to the Buckeyes. With eight defeats in the 2000s, the series is now the most lopsided since Fielding Yost’s Michigan teams beat Ohio State nine times in the 1900s.

“It’s not so much disappointment as — I don’t want to say regret — but we just want another shot to keep going,” fifth-year senior center David Moosman said. “We tried our hardest. We gave it our all.”

For the seniors walking up the Michigan Stadium tunnel one last time, it was the hardest climb in the 5-7 rollercoaster season.

But when they ran out on the field before the game, it was clear the defense and its leaders were ready for a special game.

“They were inspired,” redshirt junior Stephen Schilling said. “We kind of knew they were going to have a big game.”

Graham moved into second on Michigan’s career tackles-for-loss list with a sack and four takedowns behind the line of scrimmage. Two of them came in the third quarter with Ohio State poised to score. Graham barely seemed to notice the offensive tackle in his path.

And swarming behind him was Brown. Three of the linebacker’s seven tackles Saturday came on third down. Overall, the Wolverines stopped the Buckeyes on 11 of 15 third downs.

“I’m glad for Brandon Graham and Stevie Brown and the seniors on the defense that we were able to come out and play a pretty full game together like we did,” Van Bergen said. “I have no bad feelings towards the way our defense played.”

Mouton, who has played inconsistently all year, uncharacteristically led Michigan with 11 tackles and picked off Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s first pass in the second half. The turnover temporarily sparked the offense, which took advantage of the turnover to score its only touchdown of the game. Freshman running back Vincent Smith’s 18-yard reception was just the Wolverines’ second touchdown in three years against the Buckeyes.

Highly touted junior cornerback Donovan Warren, who said after the game that he would be back with the Wolverines next year, posted seven tackles and tipped Pryor’s intercepted pass.

And two walk-ons — linebacker Kevin Leach and safety Jordan Kovacs — were second and third in tackles.

“We did our assignments,” Van Bergen said, describing the change in the defense this week. “We put a lot more time into it and we had a lot more cleaner game as far as assignment football. When you do that, you’re always going to be a little bit better, and I think that’s what was the big difference today.”

The Wolverines held Ohio State to fewer yards than any of their other Big Ten opponents. Just two of the Buckeyes’ drives lasted longer than six plays.

But as good as Michigan’s defense was, the scarlet-and-gray one was better.

After the Wolverines crept within four points, Ohio State held Michigan to a three-and-out, intercepted three passes — including one in the end zone — and forced a turnover on downs to end the game.

Somehow, in the end, those fourteen points were just too much for Michigan.

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