COLUMBUS – Several minutes after the Wolverines second straight loss to Ohio State, junior tailback Chris Perry fought back tears and fits of rage as he continued to keep his eyes glued on the thousands of Buckeyes’ fans rushing the field in massive celebration.
As the last Wolverine to walk off the field – and be escorted by police officers – Perry kept looking back at the mayhem. He’d probably still be standing there if running backs coach Fred Jackson didn’t push him along into the lockerroom.
“I wanted to see all the celebration,” said Perry. “I wanted to see them all celebrating, because I want to live with it and remember it.”
Officially, Michigan will now have to celebrate another season that failed to meet expectations.
Michigan had the kind of season in which it could very well have been playing for a national title berth on Saturday in Columbus. Then, it would have been Perry basking in glory while trash-talking snake-bitten Ohio State fans watched.
But the flipside is that this Michigan team could just as easily have been 6-6: If a miraculous Philip Brabbs’ field goal had missed wide right against Washington, a Penn State completion had not been called out of bounds and a Brooks Bollinger pass to Jonathan Orr had connected in the final minutes, the Wolverines could be heading for the Motor City Bowl.
That’s what made this Ohio State game so pivotal. Win, and Michigan still would be 10-2, have a chance to play in a BCS bowl and avoid losing to its bitter rival for the second straight season – all goals for the Wolverines this season.