Charles Woodson couldn’t put how he felt into words.
He was on national TV discussing his alma mater Michigan’s 35-14 humiliation at No. 13 Wisconsin on Saturday, and his emotions probably would have earned some reprimand from the FCC.
But his disappointed mug that made the internet rounds said plenty.
“I’m not understanding what’s going on. You talk about ‘Look under the hood.’ This does not look good,” said the former cornerback, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1997 before embarking on a long NFL career. “… I’m sick about how Michigan football looks right now. … I’ll be honest with you, man. I’m embarrassed.”
That bafflement extended beyond Michigan fans. Many pundits picked the perennial Big Ten powerhouse as East division champion. With Urban Meyer retired, coach Jim Harbaugh seemed primed to take down rival Ohio State for the first time since he took the helm at Michigan.
It didn’t take until the last game of the season for the Wolverines’ hopes to unravel, though. In Week 2, they needed double overtime to finally squeeze past Army 24-21 at home. Then despite having two weeks to prepare for Wisconsin with a bye week, they went down 28-0 by halftime at Camp Randall and looked completely hapless on both sides of the ball.
Woodson attributed the bad performance to a lack of detail, discipline and good decisionmaking. Harbaugh told reporters Wisconsin out-hustled and out-schemed his team.
“I think it was pretty obvious to everybody that watched it, the entire football world, that really from A to Z, it wasn’t good, wasn’t good enough and not acceptable,” Harbaugh said, adding that starts with him as coach. “… You start self-critical and determined to get it fixed. That speaks for me and everybody on our team, players and coaches. Not a day we’re proud of.”
The Wolverines cycled through three quarterbacks at Wisconsin. Senior starter Shea Patterson has completed 50 of 90 passes this season for 629 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Michigan put up only 40 rushing yards against the Badgers’ 359, including 203 from junior Heisman candidate Jonathan Taylor. Four turnovers and fewer than 19 minutes of possession didn’t help.
Luckily for Michigan, the schedule gods grant them an easy rebound this Saturday, playing host to lowly Rutgers. But with five more ranked teams on the docket, Harbaugh will need to quickly turn this team around or his fifth season at Michigan — without a major bowl game victory so far — could be his last.
Michigan has fallen short of high expectations before, but Michigan senior safety Josh Metellus told reporters after the Wisconsin loss it was too soon to bury the Wolverines.
“It’s early. It’s Week 3, third game of the season. We’ve got a lot more football left,” Metellus said. “And as we all know, one game don’t define a season in college football. The only place we can go is up from here.”
Megan Ryan covers the Gophers and college football for the Star Tribune. Twitter: @theothermegryan E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org