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Friday, July 10, 2020

Michigan crushed by own unforced errors in first half vs. Ohio State

The Michigan Wolverines trained 28-16 to the Ohio State Buckeyes at halftime of Saturday’s game, but they could have been ahead if not for a few unforced errors.

Michigan played a respectable first 20 minutes against the Buckeyes. Their defense struggled to contain running back J.K. Dobbins, but Michigan was getting whatever it wanted on offense, particularly in the passing game. However, in the span of three minutes, the Wolverines made two game-changing errors that cost them dearly.

The first came with roughly six and a half minutes left in the second quarter. Trailing by eight, Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson mishandled a snap, and the fumble was recovered by Ohio State. What should have been three points at worst turned into an empty possession.

The costly turnover was bad enough. On the ensuing Ohio State drive, the Wolverines appeared to have come up with a stop with 3:29 left at the Ohio State 43. The Buckeyes set up to punt on a 4th and 4, but two Michigan players jumped offside, giving the Buckeyes a free first down. They took full advantage, scoring two plays later to extend the lead to 28-13.

That’s one turnover and one penalty that effectively functioned as one, given Michigan was about to get the ball back. At worst, it led to a 10-point swing, and perhaps as big as a 14-point one. Against a team as talented as Ohio State, the Wolverines had to play close to a perfect game, and they could not afford to make mistakes like that. That doesn’t even count some lesser mistakes that, while not as glaring, were also entirely needless and preventable. These mistakes essentially turned what was a very even half into a two-score Buckeye lead.

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