MONDAY HUDDLE: Will comments after last year’s win over OSU come back to haunt U-M this year?

Lions starting to get into playoff discussion, prep football finals are set

Ohio State cornerback Denzel Burke (29) tackles Michigan wide receiver Cornelius Johnson (6) short of the goal line in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Ding) (Tony Ding, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene -- and a glimpse at what’s to come next week.

U-M will need to back up last year’s talk big time on Saturday

Michigan certainly earned the right to gloat and be euphoric after beating Ohio State last year en route to a Big Ten title and College Football Playoff appearance, and did the Wolverines ever bask in that win.

When asked about Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh famously said, “Some people were born on third and think they hit a triple.”

Josh Gattis, who was then Michigan’s offensive coordinator before departing for Miami, called Ohio State “a finesse team.”

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy then followed those comments up in the offseason when he said that “all we know is beating Ohio State” after the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes for the first time since 2012.

All of those comments delighted U-M fans and made the win even sweeter for them, but they also did one other thing: It created quite a list of bulletin board material for Ohio State over the past year.

Now, in what is the first game between the teams when both are unbeaten since 2006, Michigan has to go into Columbus and back up that talk against an Ohio State that’s been stewing for a long time and waiting for redemption.

If you’re a fan of U-M, hopefully all those comments won’t come back to cost the Wolverines a second straight conference title.

Can the Lions start dreaming of the playoffs after winning streak?

All of a sudden, the focus has changed from where the Lions will draft (although the struggle of the Rams is becoming enticing to a Detroit team that owns L.A.’s first-round pick), to gasp, are the playoffs becoming more within reach?

Following a dominant 31-18 win over the Giants, the Lions (4-6) are on a three-game winning streak starting to get in position where they’ll be in the graphic of playoff contenders.

Of course, the next game might be a setback with arguably the league’s best team, Buffalo, visiting for the annual Thanksgiving game.

But if the Lions can pull off another stunner, fans can rightfully start thinking playoffs, without others thinking they are a little sleepy from the tryptophan in the Thanksgiving turkey.

Prep football finals set for this weekend at Ford Field

The state high school football finals have arrived, and 16 teams around the state will hope to make their championship dreams come true at Ford Field on Friday and Saturday. Here are the matchups in each of the eight divisions.

Division 1

Caledonia (12-1) vs. Belleville (13-0), 1 p.m. Saturday - Belleville enters as the defending state champion and has been ranked No. 1 all year.

Division 2

Warren De La Salle (12-1) vs. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (13-0), 1 p.m. Friday - De La Salle will be making its third straight trip to the final and is a good bet to repeat last year’s title.

Division 3

Detroit Martin Luther King (9-3) vs. Muskegon (11-2), 7:30 p.m. Saturday - A heavyweight matchup between the defending state champion (Martin Luther King) and state’s winningest program (Muskegon).

Division 4

Goodrich (12-1) vs. Grand Rapids South Christian (13-0) - 7:30 p.m. Friday - Goodrich is making its first ever finals appearance, while South Christian is aiming for its first title since 2014.

Division 5

Gladwin (13-0) vs. Frankenmuth (13-0), 4:30 p.m. Saturday - Gladwin is in the finals for the first time, while Frankenmuth is hoping to avenge a loss in the 2020 championship game.

Division 6

Negaunee (13-0) vs. Grand Rapids West Catholic (12-1), 4:30 p.m. Friday - Negaunee will come from the Upper Peninsula trying to upset West Catholic, which won five straight Division 5 titles from 2013-2017.

Division 7

Jackson Lumen Christi (10-3) vs. Traverse City St. Francis (13-0), 10 a.m. Saturday - Two traditional powerhouses meet to add another championship trophy to their already crowded cases.

Division 8

Ubly (13-0) vs. Ottawa Lake Whiteford (13-0), 10 a.m. Friday - Both of these teams will look to avenge losses in the championship game over the past six years (Ottawa Lake Whiteford in 2016, Ubly in 2020).

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.