By all accounts, last season was as close to a storybook as one could get in Michigan football. There was, however, a particularly painful blemish — Oct. 30, 2021, when the Wolverines came up short against the Michigan State Spartans in a highly emotional contest.
Now with the clock ticking ever closer to a rematch, Michigan offensive lineman Karsen Barnhart admitted Monday the wounds left by 2021 are still festering.
“Really, we should’ve won that game,” Barnhart said. “We just didn’t execute at the end and we just didn’t finish the ballgame.
“We all know that we gotta get Paul back, and that’s especially for me being a Michigan guy, I’ve only beaten them once since my freshman year. It’s time to have him back in Ann Arbor.”
Safety RJ Moten echoed Barnhart’s sentiment in his media availability shortly after.
“(It eats at the defense) a lot,” Moten said. “Especially cause I’m hard on myself, and I feel like if I would’ve caught that second pick in the fourth quarter the game could’ve ended differently. Or if I made that tackle when (Kenneth Walker III) scored, the game could’ve ended differently.
“We made some mistakes as a defense last year playing them, and we don’t have Paul right now. Like (Mike Morris) said after practice, there’s dust growing where he is right now so we’ve gotta get him back. We’re just hungry and eager to play.”
The focus on avenging the ghosts of last year has been evident since as soon as a few minutes after Saturday’s 41-17 victory over Penn State. With multiple weeks to prepare, the Wolverines are already hungry to get another chance at bringing the Paul Bunyan Trophy home.