Michigan’s back, while OSU seeks quick turnaround

Like thousands of people on the Michigan Stadium turf, Mike

Martin and Taylor Lewan wanted to savor every last second of the

scene that broke out after the Wolverines finally beat Ohio

State.

The defensive and offensive tackle walked backward into the

tunnel – looking toward the field filled with maize-and-blue clad

fans – and soaked up the atmosphere one last time before turning to

run up the incline toward the locker room.

”This is a big game for us and this program,” Martin said

after Saturday’s win. ”For us to take this step as a team is huge

and we’re never going to forget it and these fans and this fan base

is never going to forget it.”

No doubt.

Denard Robinson matched a career high with five touchdowns to

help Michigan beat the Buckeyes 40-34 – in a game filled with lead

changes and dramatic moments – and end a record seven-game losing

streak against its archrival.

The Wolverines (10-2, 6-2 Big Ten) have reached double digits in

victories for the first time since 2006 and may play in a BCS bowl

for the first time since that same season.

Is Michigan back?

”We hope so,” junior safety Jordan Kovacs said. ”We are

excited with the 10-win season and beating Ohio, but there’s still

work left to do. We strive to win Big Ten championships. We didn’t

get that done, but we’re going to enjoy this win and we’re going to

enjoy the bowl game.”

The Wolverines won’t play for the Big Ten title on Saturday

night in Indianapolis – rival Michigan State and Wisconsin earned

spots in the inaugural conference title game – and will find out

the next day where they’re headed this postseason.

College football’s winningest team, though, seemed to validate

the improvements made this season under first-year coach Brady Hoke

by winning four of five games after losing Oct. 15 to the

Spartans.

”I want to say Michigan probably needed this win (over Ohio

State) to solidify what we did this season as a program,” senior

defensive end Ryan Van Bergen said. ”I didn’t want to say it

before the game because I didn’t want to put the pressure on my

teammates, but it solidifies what we did this year as a team.”

The Buckeyes, meanwhile, ended the regular season with a .500

record for the first time since 1999.

Ohio State has said it won’t pass up the chance to go to a bowl

game – if the NCAA allows the Buckeyes to play in the

postseason.

The NCAA may make a bowl ban part of its penalty for a

cash-for-Buckeyes memorabilia scandal that forced Jim Tressel to

resign nearly six months ago and quarterback Terrelle Pryor to bolt

for the NFL.

Ohioan Urban Meyer, who won two national championships at

Florida, is widely expected to take over the storied program and

return to the campus where he started his coaching career as a

graduate assistant.

Former Ohio State running back and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner

Eddie George said he expects speculation to become fact as soon as

Monday because hiring Meyer is a move school officials believe they

have to make.

”He certainly is the biggest name out there and his resume

speaks for itself,” George told The Associated Press on Saturday

morning in Ann Arbor, where he was working as an analyst. ”If

you’re going to go after somebody, you want to go after the biggest

fish in the pond and he’s that guy.”

As of Sunday afternoon, at least, interim coach Luke Fickell was

still in charge of the team.

Fickell tried his best to deflect questions about his future in

his postgame news conference at the Big House.

”Out of respect for the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, I wasn’t

going to think about it and wasn’t going to talk about it,”

Fickell said.