ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Zero consistency offensively and a defense that could get stops at times but seemingly not when it mattered most.
That was Michigan in 2013 leading up to a season finale at home against Ohio State. What followed that afternoon was as surprising a performance as ever, as the Wolverines suddenly found big plays, execution, and an offensive line that could protect a clearly battered Devin Gardner.
Michigan lost that game 42-41 after failing on a two-point conversion attempt with seconds left in regulation.
Fast forward to 2014 and the script reads very similar. Michigan’s offense is good for worst in the Big Ten conference averaging just 20.3 points per game and 329.5 total yards per contest.
Now preparing to head into Columbus Saturday against Ohio State (10-1) once again, the Wolverines are hoping to duplicate what happened a year ago with their most complete performance of the season.
"Number one, I do not think the carryover from year to year, in a lot of ways they are two different teams,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “There are different individuals on the teams; there are different leaderships and attitudes on the teams.
“Every team is different. What happened last year was a group of guys went out, played awfully hard together and executed and made some plays when they had to."
A road game will provide a whole new stage for Michigan this time around, something the Wolverines have struggled with in Hoke’s four years in Ann Arbor.
"Michigan State can be a different environment, but I do not know if you can simulate, you try to, you try to all week, but going in to the Horseshoe, there’s nothing like it,” Hoke said. “
“The question about rivalries earlier, the Civil War in Oregon is a pretty good rivalry, 50 miles apart between the two schools. But when you look at the stadiums and the crowds that are in those stadiums in Michigan and Ohio, that is where the difference is."
The last time Michigan went into Columbus they were led by Devin Gardner and a senior Denard Robinson who carried the ball 10 times for 122-yards and a touchdown, despite having an injured throwing arm.
The Wolverines lost 26-21, but once again proved they could put up a fight despite a difficult year.
“It’s just the nature of the game, the nature of the rivalry,” Michigan sophomore running back Drake Johnson said Tuesday. “As soon as Ohio State’s in the head it’s like everything is just a laser like focus.
“Maybe Monday on another week you’re not in Schembechler watching film but this week, Monday everyone’s in here wanting to get another hour, hour and a half making sure that we’re watching everything. Let me make sure I’m paying extra close attention to my keys, like looking at the linebackers. I think that’s what plays a really big part in these kind of games.”