Note: This is part of a series that will run periodically during the season. If your team’s sob stories haven’t run yet, your time is coming. Fans of the Badgers, Nittany Lions, Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers have already had theirs.

Every team loses games. Well, maybe not Alabama. But generally speaking, every team stumbles now and again. There were only 5 unbeaten teams in the last decade, so losing is nothing to be ashamed of.

Some losses, though, sting more than others.

For example, growing up a Chicago sports fan, I’ll never forget the Bartman Game in 2003, LeBron knocking out my Bulls in 2011 or B.J. Raji crushing my Super Bowl dreams in 2011.

By virtue of playing in a lot of big games, Michigan has suffered some heartbreaking losses. That’s understandable; the Wolverines get everyone’s best shot. Michigan Stadium holds the NCAA single-season average home attendance record of 112,252 fans per game (2012). Who wouldn’t want to pull an upset in front of 110,000 fans?

Here are the 6 most crushing losses for Michigan (prior to Saturday’s collapse at MSU), with the caveat that all of these games are within the last 20 years. That means you won’t see Kordell Stewart’s Hail Mary in 1994, the “Game of the Century” against Iowa in 1985, the trip on Desmond Howard in 1990 or Notre Dame’s last-second field goal in 1980.

Let’s start with the oldest and work our way to the most recent:

Michigan State 26, No. 6 Michigan 24 (Nov. 3, 2001)

This one has certainly lived on as one of Michigan’s most agonizing losses in recent history. Michigan State, the home team, was driving in the final minute, down 24-20. Michigan stopped Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker at the 2 as he scrambled. Without a timeout, the Spartans had to rush to the line to kill the clock. Smoker spiked the ball with 1 second left — or was there?

It appears that the clock hung on at 1 for more than just a second. That’s where the legend of “Spartan Bob” was born. Bob Stehlin, the appointed time-keeper for the game, stopped the clock at 1, and as a result, Michigan State got one final play. And the Spartans made it count.

Smoker lofted a TD pass to TJ Duckett on the last play of the game to give the home team a win shrouded in controversy. Side note: Duckett drops the ball so quickly that in today’s game, we would be speculating whether it was actually a catch. But as it played out, the Spartans quickly celebrated as a dejected Wolverines defense walked off the field.

Appalachian State 34, No. 5 Michigan 32 (Sept. 1, 2007)

No one saw this one coming, as this was arguably the most demoralizing loss in Michigan history. While Appalachian State is now a very reputable program and a launching pad for several prominent coaches, the FCS Mountaineers were a 33-point underdog. They had no real hope of beating mighty Michigan, which was coming off an 11-2 season and a Rose Bowl appearance, which is why it started the season in the top 5 (6 spots higher than Ohio State). It wound up being one of the most shocking results in modern college football and a game that the 109,208 fans in attendance that day won’t soon forget.

Michigan led for less than 7 minutes going into the fourth quarter, but it appeared to be escaping a disaster after Michael Hart’s 54-yard TD run with 4:36 left gave the Wolverines a 32-31 lead, capping a rally that erased an 11-point second-half deficit.

Even after the Mountaineers kicked a 24-yard field goal, Michigan still had a chance after a 46-yard pass from Chad Henne to Mario Manningham, but a 37-yard field goal was blocked as time expired. The Wolverines somehow missed 2 field goals in the final 1:37.

Toledo 13, Michigan 10 (Oct. 11, 2008)

This had to feel like déjà vu for Michigan fans. For the second straight year, an unheralded foe strode into the Big House and pulled a stunner in front of 107,267 fans. Michigan had a chance to tie but missed a 26-yard field goal as time expired.

Losing to 1-4 Toledo was an early indicator that Rich Rodriguez was in over his head, as Michigan went 3-9 and he lasted only 3 seasons. The Rockets, by the way, also went 3-9 — but at least they beat Michigan.

No. 7 Michigan State 27, No. 12 Michigan 23 (Oct. 17, 2015)

If ever there was an example of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, this was it. All Michigan had to do was punt the ball and the game was over.

How on earth does Michigan lose a game when punting from Michigan State’s 47 with 10 seconds left and leading by 3? Well, the snap was low, and punter Blake O’Neill didn’t catch it cleanly. He picked it up and tried to kick it but it flew out of his hands and was picked up by Jalen Watts-Jackson, who ran 42 yards for the score as time expired.

The Spartans went on to upset defending national champion Ohio State and undefeated Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game to reach the College Football Playoff (something Michigan has not done), while Michigan finished 10-3. Most thought it would be a jumping-off point for the Jim Harbaugh era, but this season turned out to be one of the high points (so far).

No. 2 Ohio State 30, No. 3 Michigan 27, 2OT (Nov. 26, 2016)

This game will forever be known as “The Spot.” Michigan had a chance to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, as it led Ohio State 27-24 in double overtime. After Michigan settled for a field goal (after a possible missed pass interference call), the Buckeyes faced fourth-and-1 from the 16. Ohio State went for it, and Michigan stopped JT Barrett right at the line to gain. After ruling a first down on the field, an official review determined the play stood as called.

On the next play, Curtis Samuel raced 15 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Ouch.

The Wolverines haven’t made it to the conference title game since it was created in 2011. This was their best chance. Given the current state of the program (and Ohio State), it’s hard to imagine them getting there anytime soon.

No. 10 Ohio State 62, No. 4 Michigan 39 (Nov. 24, 2018)

This was supposed to be Michigan’s big breakthrough. Finally. After a season-opening loss to Notre Dame, Michigan reeled off 10 straight wins going into The Game. Ohio State had lost to Purdue a month earlier and was a game behind Michigan in the race for the Big Ten East crown.

Michigan pulled within 2 late in the first half, but it never could pull ahead, falling behind by 30 in the fourth quarter. It underscored the futile nature of Michigan’s chase of Ohio State. No matter how good Michigan is playing, beating Ohio State just doesn’t seem plausible. It’ll happen eventually, but when the stakes are the highest, the Buckeyes are at their best — and Michigan isn’t.

(Dis)honorable mention

No. 1 Ohio State 42, No. 2 Michigan 39 (Nov. 18, 2006)

This almost makes the cut because No. 1 vs. No. 2, obviously. But Michigan didn’t lead in the final 54 minutes and wasn’t expected to win, so it fell just short of this list.

Michigan State 27, No. 13 Michigan 24 (Oct. 31, 2020)

This was a shocking upset considering the Wolverines were 24-point favorites against a 1st-year head coach who just lost to Rutgers, but it failed to rate because there weren’t fans to experience the agony first-hand and Michigan wound up stinking anyways.

No. 6 Texas 38, No. 13 Michigan 37 (Jan. 1, 2005)

Michigan hasn’t won a Rose Bowl since 1997, and this was its best shot since it led by 10 late in the third quarter and lost on a 37-yard field goal as time expired.