Gap Separating Ohio State and Michigan Continues to Widen

By Kyle Rowland on December 29, 2013 at 9:00a
2013 was another forgettable year for Michigan.

The scoreboard on Nov. 30 inside the Big House said Ohio State only defeated Michigan by a single point, 42-41. And the Buckeyes did so in dramatic fashion with a final minute interception on what would have been a game-winning two-point conversion.

In reality, the gap between Ohio State and Michigan continues to widen. It’s seemingly so big now that Robbie Knievel or the Flying Wallendas could perform a stunt over the cavernous drop. In the wee hours of Sunday morning, the Wolverines ended a dismal 7-6 season with a 31-14 loss to Kansas State in the laughably irrelevant Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

After suffering through a 2-10-1 spell with John Cooper at the helm, the Buckeyes have been victors of 11 of the past 13 games against their archrival. It’s not just The Game itself where Ohio State is superior to Michigan. Where each program currently resides in the national landscape continues to get further apart as well. The Wolverines have slogged through four six-loss seasons in six years while tallying a 43-34 record. They own zero wins over top-10 teams in the past six years. It has been so bad that Michigan is no longer No. 1 when it comes to winning percentage in college football history. 

Since winning the 1997 national championship, the Wolverines have not had a single season where it lost one or fewer games. During that same span, the Buckeyes have won a national championship, finished undefeated twice and had two other seasons of one loss. 

“I would hope there would be higher expectations,” head coach Brady Hoke said. “It’s Michigan.”

When Hoke took control of Michigan football in 2011, many believed the once mighty program would assume its spot near the top of college football’s summit. An 11-2 record in Year 1 lent credence to that thinking. But it now appears nothing more than an aberration for the Wolverines. Three and four-loss seasons are increasingly becoming the norm in Ann Arbor. In 2013, the Wolverines lost five games – in the Big Ten. 

You can pinpoint the shift back to Ohio State just two days after the Michigan’s triumph in 2011. Urban Meyer was named head coach the next Monday and the Buckeyes washed away any ground the Wolverines had made up in a steady stream of success. Michigan is 15-11 since the 2011 edition of The Game.

Twenty-four consecutive wins, two victories over Michigan and a top-five ranking followed before Ohio State lost its first game. While Michigan’s recruiting rankings give the appearance of a glitzy roster, it’s the Buckeyes that show off all the bells and whistles. The latest blow to the Wolverines came in November when the nation’s top recruit, defensive end Da’Shawn Hand, thought to be a Michigan lean, instead committed to Alabama.

“Coach Meyer, he came in with a great spirit,” senior safety Christian Bryant said. “He wanted to try to turn this program back to where it was before coach Tress left, and I feel like he did a great job of that.”

Said backup quarterback extraordinaire Kenny Guiton: “Coach Meyer came in and changed the leadership around. He changed a lot around. He helped for the better.”

A bulk of the significant pieces are pre-Meyer era, but it’s his staff that’s molded them into playmakers. Then there are names like Noah Spence, Joey Bosa and Dontre Wilson who all ventured to Columbus after Meyer’s hiring.

“We did a lot of growing up, as far as maturity goes. I think when Coach Meyer got here we realized that we were the older guys now, and we had to assume some responsibility and not just take a back seat and watch other guys do it,” senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said. “It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s been a great journey and I love this senior class.”

Meanwhile, Hoke’s highly-rated classes remain low on accomplishments. Michigan hasn’t won a division crown yet nor has it won a Big Ten title since 2004. An argument can be made that the Wolverines were fortunate to be bowl eligible this season. Three wins were escape acts, heists that could be considered grand theft. Akron, Connecticut and Northwestern each had Michigan beat, only to see a win slip away in the final moments.

“Is the goal always to win the Big Ten championship? No question about it,” Hoke said. “We won’t make excuses nor back down from it. Have we played and coached as well as we needed to? Obviously not.”

November was the low point during the Hoke era. Michigan went 1-4, had its lowest rushing output for a single game and become the first FBS school to have negative yards rushing in consecutive games. Offensively, the Wolverines ranked near the bottom of FBS. Keep in mind, Michigan was a favorite to win the Legends Division in August.

“I know that this is going in the right direction,” Hoke said, adamantly, during November’s struggles. “What am I going to say? It’s going backwards? I mean, seriously. I feel very confident in what we’re doing, and how our kids are responding.”


Comments Show All Comments

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Excellent article Kyle.  The gap is widening between the two programs.  It sure is nice to be on this end of the 11 out of 13 win streak!  Hope it continues for another 13 years at least!!  Would love to see a few more scUM players able to wear this jersey.  Two more wins and they will 0-4 again!! 
Go Bucks!!

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

This is always a great photo. The Sparty fans in East Lansing would love to see it, as well, when it pertains to Michigan State. They also can't stand scUM. I like it when they're irrelevant.

Crumb's picture

Best picture ever.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

sharks's picture

This is my favorite line:

“I would hope there would be higher expectations,” head coach Brady Hoke said. “It’s Michigan.”

You're a terrible coach, you run a terrible team, and your fans are a bunch of mouth-breathing Michiganders who have this ridiculous air of superiority because you won a lot of pre-WWII games and are the second best academic institution in the conference, if US News counts for anything anymore.

A man got to have a code...

BuckeyeChris's picture

"You can pinpoint the shift back to Ohio State just two days after the Michigan’s triumph in 2011. Urban Meyer was named head coach the next Monday and the Buckeyes washed away any ground the Wolverines had made up in a steady stream of success. Michigan is 15-11 since the 2011 edition of The Game."
Nailed it, Kyle!
Yep... I remember being upset about how that game ended for only about a few hours. By then, that UFM was to be named the new head coach was widely reported and confirmed (thank you, 11W!). What was supposed to feel like April 15 felt more like December 24.  The tide definitely turned on 11/28/11.

Jonnferrell's picture

I look into my crystal ball.  I see. . .TTUN in a losing season next year--sprawling on its face in the middle of the Big Ten.  I see. . . Pat Fitzgerald as the new coach in Ann Arbor in 2015.  Ok--have to check this stuff with the Magic 8 Ball. . . 

"I miss Brady Hoke."

coke's picture

Didn't Fitzgerald turn them down after they fired RichRod?

urban86's picture

Another great article.  The response above is completely on the mark.  Bwaaaady Joke is a pathetic coach and I hope he stays as long as possible..rehire rich rod as a co-head coach.  He screams ineptness, stupidity, and listening to him talk is nothing short of exhausting.  I swear sometimes its Forrest Gump talking.  As for the completely misplaced "superiority factor", that ship has sailed a long time ago....thier fans are just too damn ignorant to know it, let alone accept it.  Coach Meyer, Merry Christmas from Buckeye Nation and keep the year long Christmas Gifts coming. 

Hovenaut's picture

Tradition and history are huge for a football program, but you cannot rest on your laurels. 
I think they're going to be taking things back to formula after next season....I just don't see the current leadership turning this around. 

BuckeyeinExile's picture

Love your work, but rather then "Since winning the 1997 national championship" didn't you mean to say "Since winning half of the National Championship" ? Lets not feed the myth of Meechigan!
In all seriousness though, do you get the feeling that the ship has sailed and they missed their window with how strong Sparty has come on? I don't really see them being able to fix things to their expectations for a few years at least the way Dantonio is recruiting.

MN Buckeye's picture

Dantonio had done a great job building the program at Sparty with less money and poorer facilities than MI. For a program with a great foundation like MI, they can recover from one poor coaching hire, but two in a row is inexcusable. The program assumes the personality of its coach, and we have all the evidence to see that Kyle is right.

Buckabroad's picture

+1 for that incredibly astute observation which I agree with completely. Competing with OSU at this point is stupid and self-destructive. They cannot catch us right now. If TTUN is smart (...ahem) they will try to fend off MSU and defend their state. If MSU manages to pick up recruiting and beat out TTUN in this area as well, TTUN will wither and die. MSU's coaching already is excellent.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

bukyze's picture

I hope they become the next Tennessee.  A once dominant program that has fallen into mediocrity for what seems to be forever.  Butch Jones may help turn them around, but I don't see them getting back to the early and mid Fulmer years of success.  As far as scUM, it's 11:56, and they really, really suck.

urban86's picture

Direct Quote for Coach Forrest Hoke
I'm not a smart man, but I know what a loss is"
_ichigan still sux

okiebuck's picture

The big marshmallow that IS Brady Hoke; is rubbing off on all those so called "michigan men". They are fat, soft, slow and lack any sort of toughness that is needed in the game of football. Hoke says they are going in the right direction but I'm not sure he even knows how to read a compass.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

gravey's picture

I hate to be that guy, but...
we barely beat this team this season - so our gloating should be tempered - and left to fans of TSUN (if they ever get a chance again, of course).  Pride has a funny way of biting you in the ass.  Ask the folks in AA or State College about the price gluttony at that trough.  Perhaps looking north in silent pity or rooting for a moderate recovery toward respectability would behoove the ever-classy fans here at 11W..
...or not.

2morrow's picture

I agree with you...we talk like we blew these guys out - though I would take a 5 overtime forfeit if it meant a victory over um. WE still have a long way to go and the most troubling thing to me this year was that we got outcoached in the last two games of the year. We should have beaten um by 3 scores but our D never adjusted and they killed us. The MSU game should have been a two score victory as well. Our coaches basically took Hyde out of the game in the 4th quarter - he was unstoppable - except by our coaching staff. In my opinion, especially on the critical series in the 4th quarterof the MSU game, UFM should have told the OC, anyone else but Hyde touches the ball, you can walk back to Columbus. Everyone remembers the 4th down that BM was stopped on. We wouldn't have needed to run that had Hyde not been taken out of the game on the third down play! He was averaging almost 7 yards a carry. Should have given it to him twice, MSU was stopping the edge rush, but not up the gut.

buckz4evr's picture

I agree 100%.  We criticize TTUN's fans for their haughty attitude, but I fear we are falling into the same mindset.  We played very poorly at times this year, so we shouldn't be so quick to place us so high above them.  Like gravy said, we only beat them by 1 point this year.  

woodcocklives@osu's picture

And if we are using Michigan as a barometer, then OSU ~= Akron, right?

buckz4evr's picture

Edit.  Double post....again.  Trying to get used to this new tablet

Smithy's picture

Another poster in agreement. We should temper our arrogance until we beat Clemson and win a few SEC bowl games. That said, seeing M in the dumper is satisfying.

chemicalwaste's picture

If I could upvote I would. Couldnt agree more. It really wont take them that long to turn it around. They still have great athletes, a good school and tradition. Acting like OSU is supreme is above all others is ridiculous. The buckeyes havent one a championship since 2003, so lets reel it back in a ways.

Don't get me wrong, I loved watching them get trounced in a bar in michigan after my cousin's wedding last night.

45has2's picture

Is there room for one more on this bandwagon? As the current bowl results show: The B1G sucks. The ACC also sucks, however, the Criminoles showed how you rip through a sucky conference. You dominate everybody. You dominate your division, you dominate your conference in state rival, you dominate your OOC in state rival and you dominate the conference championship. Dominate = win by 14 or more. Until The Buckeyes can do that, the chest thumping is a little premature and the gap between TOSU and ttun isn't all we wish it was.
Edit: Can I call you Uncle Billy?

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I watched every snap last night of the chicken wings bowl and it was glorious in a Titanic sort of way!!!  Flounder Hoke is a .500 coach - always has been - always will be!  Listening to him speak is painful and I have NO idea how that can translate with recruits to commit to the clown show up north!  I was also following the game on mgoblog and to say there is a black mood up there is like saying the Grand Canyon is a small mole hill!!!  Thankfully - the air of excessive arrogance is completely erased as well!!!  Long live King Urban!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

BucksFan2000's picture

I hate that college football has morphed into this "root for your conference" garbage.  I'm thrilled Hoke and company got embarrassed last night.
I was pulling for Minny some because the Kill story is compelling, and I'd like to see the B1G get a Rose Bowl win, but OSU winning is more important than all other games combined.

Johnny_Buck71's picture

Right on. I was thinking the same thing whilst watching the game. A small part of me tried to convince myself that rooting for Michigan was better for conference and by extension, good for us. But I just couldn't do it. And for that, I am grateful. I'll root for the rest of the B1G though. 

A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore. - Yogi Berra

Buckeyebiddaddy's picture

I couldn't agree more.
the only thing that benefits ohio state is them winning the games they play.  Who cares what the rest of the Big Ten does?  If we beat who we play it shuts everyone up.
Why would I root for a Michigan program that we compete with in recruiting and steals kids from Ohio?
its a myth that Ohio States needs Michigan to be competitive again.  If we beat Florida in 2006 or LSU in 2007 no one cares what Michigan or the rest of the big ten does.

AMSS's picture

The only thing I would say to that is that the bowl records for your conference are somewhat important in that they help to shape the perception of your conference. With only a four team playoff in place for the foreseeable future I have to think we would need to run the table to get involved with it next year. There will be no margin for error next year. The unfortunate fact is that perception of our conference feeds into perception of our schedule. Perception of our schedule will feed into whether or not we get into a playoff. We all know a win against Virginia Tech will not be looked at in as positive a light as it did for Alabama. 

JLP36's picture

I think Hoke is doing a great job.  I would like to see M do the right thing and give him another 12 or 15 years to finish what he has started...


CarolinaBuck's picture

In all fairness, Michigan last night had a true freshman starting for the first time against a decent K State defense. If Gardner had been available, Michigan's offense would have been better. However, that doesn't excuse the way the Michigan D played. They were as hapless in 3rd down situations as we are. They played soft on the corners and had very little pressure from the D line on the QB. Sounds kind of like Luke Fickell was coaching their team.

cwglee's picture

I actually think Hoke is trying to run an offense he doesn't want to but is limited by his personnel. If the offensive line develops (they have the high recruiting rankings to think they should) and he finds a steady pocket QB who limits mistakes there's no reason to think they can't soundly beat everyone but OSU in the BIG. Hate to say it but the talent is there, if they put it together they can go from 7-6 to 12-1 very quickly.

bukyze's picture

I actually think Hoke is trying to run an offense he doesn't want to but is limited by his personnel.

Isn't this the exact same scenario as Richrod?

Jabba the Hoke's picture

I agree that the talent is there to have a quick turnaround, the problem is that the coaching isn't good enough to do anything with the talent.

Brutus1972's picture

Although beating scUM is of the upmost importance every year, I do not think that we should be using their program as a measuring stick for our teams success. We all know who and what teams are wearing the college football crown these days and it isn't scUM. We need to get those teams on the schedule and win in Bowl/Play Off games if we want to be considered successful. Beating up on scUM should be an expectation at this point. If and when scUM is able to beat college footballs elite, at least perform at a higher level vs top competition or we are able to ruin one of their undefeated seasons on the last conference game of the year, then and only then will I give them the respect they already think they are entitled to. Until then, they are part of the negative perception towards the B1G that we have no defense for when it comes to strength of schedule.

RufusVonDufus's picture

Champions of the West, huh!   Would that be east of Lake Michigan and "WEST" of Lake Erie?    Oh yea, that would be MSU at this point.


45has2's picture

Ohhhhh, I don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan......

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

BrewstersMillions's picture

But Brady Hoke says Ohio! He gets it! He recruits!
Between BOB leaving PSU (likely) and Michigan's ineptitude, OSU fans really need to pull for Sparty every time they play a game against non OSU competition. They appear to be the only team poised to aid OSU in the rebuild of the Big Ten's image.

Seattle Linga's picture

I love the way this is going - what will this honestly look like in a couple of years if Hoke stays.

kholmes's picture

I have to agree with the assertion that the gap is widening...but I think the "Hoke has recruited great" assertion is not entirely true until recently. He has only had 3 classes and his first class was awful. Many of Michigan's current issues can be attributed to poor recruiting results and recruiting decisions by Hoke due to the below:
1) Hoke's first recruiting class (2011) was ranked poorly: His first class rankings were #28 by 247 sports, #21 by rivals, and #29 by Scout. These aren't the type of classes to close the gap with OSU. Part of the reason can be attributed to Dave Brandon botching the transition and not hiring Hoke until mid-January giving him little time to put together a class. The last class for Rodriguez wasnt too hot and has had most people leave so you have 2 very poor classes at Michigan (these are the 3rd year and 4th year players currently).
2) RB recruiting: In Hoke's first class in 2011, the only RBs were Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls (only other offer were MAC schools). In 2012 class, the only RB was Drake Johnson (only other offer was EMU). While he added a couple highly rated Rbs in 2013, this forced Michigan to rely on Touissant with no usable depth. When Touissant got injured in 2012, this was a complete disaster as there was no serviceable running back.
3) QB recruiting: In 2011 class, he had only a month and took Russell Bellomy as that was all they could get. In 2012 despite a desperate need, they took NO quarterback. While they did get Morris in 2013, this poor recruiting resulted in no serviceable backup for Gardner this year other than the true freshman who had to waste a redshirt for only a few snaps (until last night).
This poor recruiting for 2 classes in a row (3rd year and 4th year players) has really hurt them especially on offense. Last night the only 3rd year and 4th year players who played on offense at all were a walkon 3rd year lineman (Graham Glasgow), 3rd year 4th string Rb Justice Hayes for a few snaps, and 4th year slot Drew Dileo. I dont think people realize what a disaster Hoke's first class was but that last statement shows it. The only 3rd year and 4th year players who played any snaps on offense were Glasgow (a walkon), Hayes (a 4th string RB), and Dileo (slot)...that is all for 2 classes - that is an amazing stat. The other seniors (Schofield, Lewan, Gallon) were all 5th year players.
So in the end I think Hoke is given a little too much credit for recruiting as his poor recruiting is the cause of many of the current depth issues. On the other hand, I think the idea that he has been playing with top recruits for a few years is a little overhyped as its only been two years with highly rated recruits (and many redshirted one of years) so it may be a little too early to make a conclusion. When 5 of the 6 freshman OL redshirt this year, its hard to criticize Hoke already for their production or say they are a busts in terms of development. A statement like that would be similar to criticizing OSU staff since Eli Apple or Mike Mitchell havent produced yet...clearly that is a stupid statement since they havent even stepped on the field yet. 
I think the two years of horrible recruiting (2010/2011) and poor skill position recruiting (both on Hoke) is something that people dont realize when they say Hoke has recruited great. The result of this is last night you have a true Fr qb handing off to two true Fr RBs, throwing to a true FR TE (Remember rodriguez didnt believe in tight ends), behind two redshirt FR linemen and a walkon.

Jonnferrell's picture

Some good insight on the recruiting.  I think we all, including many TTUN fans have taken it for granted that he has been a great recruiter, but there have been ups and downs.  I think he's done better this year but has also missed out on some because of the rough year.  A bowl win would have been a good thing for momentum, but it was an ugly game last night.

"I miss Brady Hoke."

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Appreciate the honesty!  I've always said Hoke has been an .500 coach and he would be exposed quickly if he didn't step it up quickly upon arrival in AA.  Hell, not too many people had even heard of Jim Tressel before he was hired so I thought it was possible for him to come in and rip it up, however, I'm not even remotely seeing that at this point in time!  Since I only follow OSU recruiting (just don't have the time to expand to a wider view), I've just taken all of the blogosphere hype about his recruiting prowess at face value so you are paining quite a contrasting picture and it is not a bright one for the university or Hoke's future.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

kholmes's picture

I think my long post above can be best summarized as a bit of a mixed message:
1) Hoke recruited very poorly in his first class (2011) and at certain skill positions and both are a big cause of some of the problems and inexperience offensively this past year.
2) The "good" recruiting from Hoke has only come in the 2012 and 2013 classes so it may be a bit premature for those that conclude he has failed at utilizing and developing the top rated incoming players.

coke's picture

Great insight on UM recruiting, but lots of teams that win 8-10 games annually do not land top recruiting classes.  At some point it is about player development and coaching.  Hoke was a below .500 coach at Ball State and he did not exactly dominate at SDSU.  At best he might be the 6th or 7th best coach in the Big 10 (Meyer, Dantonio, O'Brien, Fitzgerald, Anderson, and maybe Ferentz).

AZBuckeye83's picture

Wearing "the game" jersey proudly at the team up north bowl game last night.

You Win With People.

olbuzz's picture

Jim Tressel destroyed Michigan as we knew it. That silly fence around Ohio cliche worked to a tee!! Those old enough to recall the pain and suffering of not only the Cooper era but... The ongoing agony dating back to Nov 22 1969. The first Buckeyes game that really stuck to my memory.
I waited 34 years to be Champions again. No doubt prolonged by those... mainly turncoats that kept that rabble relevant. Much like a country with no natural resource's... Steal your neighbors.
 I used to dream of the day the tables would turn. Don't not let them up for air! Endeavor to pummel them from the ranks of the B1G.
Stupid lookin Helmets!!!  Thanks again Sir 

Crumb's picture

I think that team up north probably thought the same thing in say 1999. Never take it for granted, beat blue always and forever!!!

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

aabuckeye's picture

Take a look at Hoke's first bowl victory against Virginia Tech. It was a win, but you couldn't say the team looked like a well-coached team. It's been apparent since his first year that he's just not a very good coach. He's not involved with the offense or defense, so his main job is left to motivation. But his teams repeatedly come out playing flat and sloppy -- even after three years, and even though it's stocked with four- and five-star recruits. RR was fired after three years having the same record, but his record was trending up. Hoke's record is trending down and there is no indication with how this season progressed that the trend is some sort of anomaly.