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December 29, 2013

Michigan bowl defeats continuing to mount

When Lloyd Carr announced his retirement following the 2007 regular season, he was assured of finishing his 13-year career with a losing bowl record. However, Carr went out on top thanks to a 41-35 upset win over No. 9 Florida in the Capital One Bowl.

The victory improved his postseason record to 6-7 (.462 winning percentage) since he took over as head coach in 1995, making him more successful in bowls than his mentor, Bo Schembechler (5-12 from 1969-89 for a winning percentage of .294)

When Carr stepped down, Michigan fans envisioned a postseason run of more wins than losses over the next decade of U-M football, but it has been anything but that; with their 31-14 loss to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, the Wolverines fell to 1-3 in bowl games since 2008, including 1-2 under head coach Brady Hoke.

Michigan is now 20-23 all time in postseason contests, holding the dubious rank of third among the losingest programs in NCAA bowl history. U-M trails only Nebraska (25 losses) and Tennessee (24 defeats) - the Cornhuskers could add to their tally when they meets Georgia in the Gator Bowl Jan. 1. Tennessee is not in a bowl game.

It has been a long, hard six seasons since Carr retired. The Maize and Blue have lost five or more games in five of those seasons (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013) and has not sniffed a Big Ten title after winning five conference crowns under Carr.

On Saturday, the Wolverines had a chance to avoid a sixth loss this year, and improve to 8-5 on the season, but like they had in limping to a 1-4 finish in November, Michigan could not generate much offense and could not make a stop defensively.

"When you're going into a game with three weeks preparation, preparing for one opponent, you would hope and think all of that preparation is going to pay off," junior defensive end Frank Clark said. "But it's football. Sometimes all of that preparation doesn't go your way.

"This isn't the first time something like this has happened [to us this season]. It's something you've got to go into next season and learn from. That starts with winter conditioning, making sure the guys' mindset is right for that, and going into spring ball and into summer camp.

"Teams game plan just like we game plan. You sit in meetings for hours. You practice for hours. At the same time, there are other teams on the other side doing the same thing. Kansas State just prepared a little harder than us. They came to play, and they wanted it more than we did."

After the game, Hoke and senior left tackle Taylor Lewan both expressed their distress over Team 134's plight this season but spoke of a brighter future in which Team 135 (2014) could quickly rally the program's overdue renaissance.

They could be right, but for now, another game goes in the loss column and Michigan's frustrating season adds a sixth chapter in a volume full of disappointments.

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