November 24, 2012
Turnovers prove the culprit in all four Michigan losses
In a somber post-game press conference room, fifth-year senior safety Jordan Kovacs and senior defensive tackle Will Campbell swallowed their tongues, pointing to their own ineffectiveness in taking the blame for Michigan's 26-21 loss to Ohio State.
They could certainly make a case, noting U-M surrendered eight points more than it had been allowing and almost 100 yards more than its 11-game average. However, the two wouldn't say what most reporters in the room and fans watching from their television sets back home felt - this one belonged on the offense.
"Hard to win football games when you turn the ball over four times," said head coach Brady Hoke, summing it up perfectly.
The Maize and Blue lost the turnover battle for the seventh time this season while falling to minus-seven in turnover margin for the year.
"Too many turnovers," said senior quarterback Denard Robinson, shaking his head in disgust. "We had three turnovers in the second half.
"In order for you to win this game, you've got to hold onto the ball."
The Buckeyes would convert those four turnovers into only three points, which is a credit to the defense.
"It's something we've been doing all year -- looking at each other and knowing we have each other's backs," Campbell said. "We play to the whistle like we're coached to play."
Michigan's inability to hold onto the football or force enough turnovers - that actually wasn't the problem Saturday with three forced fumbles - proved their undoing in all four defeats this season.
In its 41-14 loss to Alabama in the season opener, U-M quarterbacks threw three picks, which the Crimson Tide converted into 14 points. The Wolverines would force just a single fumble themselves and wouldn't do anything with it.
Then, in a 13-6 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, Michigan's carelessness would again prove its undoing with the Maize and Blue throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble. The Fighting Irish turned those miscues into 10 points, while the Wolverines would do nothing with their two forced turnovers.
In its only Big Ten loss until this weekend, a 23-9 defeat at Nebraska, U-M again threw three picks, converted into 10 points, while its two turnovers gained resulted in just a field goal.
In total during its four losses this year, Michigan lost the turnover battle 16-8, and would be outscored off turnovers 37-10.
On Saturday, those turnovers again proved the Wolverines' undoing, robbing Michigan of a potential score when it lost the ball on the Ohio State 33-yard line on its first drive, and again when it stymied U-M's most promising second-half drive, putting an end to a two-play, 23-yard consumption that positioned Michigan near midfield.
The defense tried its best to bail out the offense, but couldn't do enough to satisfy Kovacs and Co.
"The defense responded well at times, but at the end of the day we didn't execute," he said, preferring to think of this as a team loss even if no one in the pressroom agreed.
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