The Michigan Wolverines nearly ruined the Ohio State Buckeyes' bid for a perfect season on Saturday, but four Wolverines turnovers said otherwise.
It wasn't just the turnovers, either. It was the timing of the giveaways.
The Wolverines fumbled the ball on their first possession of the game. Responding with a Devin Gardner touchdown pass was nice, but Michigan fumbled the ball again on the possession after that.
It's hard to build momentum, no matter how many times you score, when each touchdown is greeted by a giveaway just minutes later.
Michigan held onto the ball throughout the second quarter, but fumbled the ball for a third time in the third quarter. The Wolverines only trailed by two points entering the fourth, but look at all of the missed opportunities.
And the worst was yet to come.
About halfway through the fourth quarter, trailing 23-21, Gardner coughed the ball up at his own 19-yard line after being sacked by Michael Bennett. That allowed Drew Basil to kick a field goal and give the Buckeyes a 26-21 lead.
Then, on the ensuing possession, Gardner was intercepted by C.J. Barnett at Michigan's 49-yard line.
Gardner played well at times on Saturday, but he also made critical mistakes. He wasn't the only culprit, but he's the quarterback. Signal-callers are, first and foremost, supposed to take care of the football in critical moments.
The Wolverines played well in the season's biggest rivalry game, but they couldn't get out of their own way. Allowing 100-plus yards to Carlos Hyde is going to happen because he's talented, but giving the ball away left and right is inexcusable.
Gardner and Co. were able to go punch-for-punch with Ohio State for most of the game, but mistakes didn't allow them to make the necessary push in the second half. That gave Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes an opening, and they capitalized like a good team should.
Ohio State isn't BCS bowl-eligible, but that doesn't matter. A perfect season is still a perfect season.
From the Wolverines' perspective, there would have been nothing better than ruining the only positive that the Buckeyes could have taken from this season.
Instead, Michigan gave away crucial possessions and failed to take control.
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