‘Tis the season for reflection because regardless of holidays, when the sun sets at 5 p.m., what else is there better to do?
Unlike last year, when reflecting upon Michigan football only brought about thoughts of depression, anxiety and existential dread, this season brings about nothing but a smile and a calming warmness of the heart; winning fixes everything.
There was so much joy in the 2021 football season and given the time of the year, a 12 days of Christmas approach only felt appropriate to encapsulate the unforgettable ride with the Wolverines.
12 Victory Sunday’s
The Wolverines tied a program record for the most wins in a single season (1905, 1997) and have a chance at program immortality against Georgia and beyond.
Any program record at Michigan is substantial because Michigan has been playing football since 1879 when the Wolverines finished 1-0-1. The Racine College Lakers were not ready for Michigan captain Dave DeTar (“People don’t forget”).
11 Jabo Sacks
Michigan football’s Most Improved Defensive Player had one of the most prolific seasons ever for a Wolverine pass rusher.
Entering 2021, junior linebacker David Ojabo — or as Fox announcer Gus Johnson would say: “OH-JA-BO”— had recorded only one tackle and zero sacks, tackles-for-loss and forced fumbles in two years at Michigan.
This season, Ojabo currently has 35 tackles, 11 sacks (which prior to 2021, would be one shy of the former program record of 12– teammate Aidan Hutchinson broke the record this season and currently sits at 14), 12 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles (single-season program record).
Ojabo was named as a second team All-American this season. Not bad for a guy who has only been playing organized football for five years.
10 Edwards Catches
The Maryland game quickly became known as the Donovan Edwards game. The true freshman running back caught 10 passes for 170 yards yards and one touchdown.
Ten receptions represent a Michigan running back single-game record and 170 receiving yards represent a single-game high for any Wolverine pass catcher this season.
9 Easy Touchdowns
While a close game against future MAC Champions Northern Illinois was not expected, nearly doubling the betting line (-27.5) was not expected either as Michigan cruised to victory, 63-10. Even further, this came with the Wolverines taking their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter and actually being outscored 7-0 in the final frame.
Let’s count the touchdowns, shall we: quarterback Cade McNamara 1-yard run; running back Blake Corum 1-yard run; running back Hassan Haskins 1-yard run; Hasksins again from five yards out; wide receiver Cornelius Johnson 87-yard reception; Corum 51-yard run; Corum 1-yard run; running back Donovan Edwards 4-yard run; Edwards again on a 58-yard run.
With a complete and concerted effort, this game could have been the 13th day of Christmas.
8 20-Point Wins
Michigan did not just win this year, more often than not, the Wolverines won big. See above. Western Michigan was defeated by 33; Washington lost by three touchdowns; Northern Illinois was mercifully kept within 53; Wisconsin lost by three touchdowns; Northwestern lost by 26; Indiana lost by 22; Maryland was overwhelmed by 41; Iowa suffered its worst defeat in years in the Big Ten Championship losing by 39.
There were a few nail-biters along the way, but reserves played more fourth quarter minutes than the starters in 2021.
7 Home Victories
After the 2020 season saw the Wolverines go winless at home for the first time in program history — albeit extreme outlying conditions — the 2021 season saw Michigan go undefeated at the Big House.
This home slate also marked two of the all-time atmospheric performances from the Michigan fans. The night game maize out against Washington that began with a timeout from the Huskies due to noise set the tone for the entire game. And the snowy chaos against Ohio State might have been one of the three best environments ever seen at Michigan Stadium.
6 Anthony Receptions
True freshman wide receiver Andrel Anthony had one career touch entering the game against Michigan State. While the game result was unfavorable, Anthony’s performance was unforgettable.
The East Lansing native tallied six catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Most memorable was Anthony’s first reception that saw a simple slant route turn into a 93-yard touchdown. Although Anthony has been unable to find the end zone since this game, he has a bright future ahead in Ann Arbor.
5 Haskins Tuddies
Senior running back Hassan Haskins ran WILD against the Ohio State Buckeyes in an all-time performance. Haskins carried the ball 28 times for 169 yards and five touchdowns, which marked the single highest performance in the rivalry with Ohio State and tied a Michigan program record for a single game with Ron Johnson. Most importantly, this performance came in a winning effort over the Buckeyes.
The following week against Iowa in the Big Ten Championship, Haskins would add two more touchdowns to set the new single-season record for the program with 20.
4 Moody Makes
The smallest margin of victory for the Wolverines came against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln, 32-29. Because of Michigan’s early ongoing struggles in the red zone, the Wolverines had to rely heavily upon Lou Groza Award-winning kicker Jake Moody.
Moody went 4-for-4, including the game-tying and eventual game-winning kick on the road. The legend of Money Moody was solidified.
3 Hutch Sacks
“Big time players, step up in big time games,” and there was no game bigger up until the moment of Nov. 27 when Ohio State came to Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes’ offense was viewed as virtually unstoppable coming off a crushing victory over Michigan State, which included a 49-0 first half.
Michigan senior leader and team captain Aidan Hutchinson had spoken all season about the importance of beating Ohio State and why it was one of the driving factors in returning for one more season. In the biggest moment of his career, Hutch delivered.
Three sacks gave him 13 for the season, set a new program record for the most sacks in a single season. Michigan beat Ohio State for the first time in 10 years and earned a trip to Indianapolis.
2 Stolen Traditions
Two of the best moments this season came on the road against Wisconsin and Nebraska. The Wolverines hit the road with two goals: win and make the opponent’s traditions, their traditions. Check and check.
1 Big Ten Championship
The Michigan Wolverines beat Ohio State by two scores and then secured their first Big Ten Championship since 2004. Life is good.
When sung it would go: On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 12 victory Sunday’s, 11 Jabo sacks, 10 Edwards catches, 9 easy touchdowns, 8 20-point wins, 7 home victories, 6 Anthony receptions, 5 HASKINS TUDDIES, 4 Moody makes, 3 Hutch sacks, 2 stolen traditions, and ONE BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP!
What would your 12 days look like? There is a ton of meat left on the bone: a Heisman Trophy finalist, comeback victories, victory over the Buckeyes, Haskins hurdles, a few flea flickers, DJ Turner interceptions, Sean Clifford hits taken and countless others.
Sound off below and Merry Christmas Michigan Wolverine faithful!