The finale couldn’t have been any better for Michigan, a 45-23 beatdown this past Saturday of the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus.

Now, for the second straight season, coach Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are staring down a potential Big Ten Championship Game victory and another trip to the 4-team College Football Playoff.

Conference championship in sight. National championship possible. Wins over rivals Michigan State and Ohio State, and a stomping of Penn State. Heisman contender. Emerging quarterback. Ironclad defense.

The 2022 regular season couldn’t have gone better for the No. 2-ranked Wolverines, who face Purdue for all the B1G chips Saturday night in Indianapolis.

While the focus will certainly be on moving forward for Michigan, it makes sense to take a look at how they arrived to their current position, starting with the regular-season grades piece. We’ll gleam over each position group and provide some noteworthy tidbits — use them for conversation and debate — as we all experience the build-up to the B1G CG in Indy.

Quarterback: A

Questions about the starter loomed before training camp, with incumbent Cade McNamara earning the first go of the year, only to make way for sophomore JJ McCarthy, who cruised along while posting an 11-0 record as QB1, the first UM QB to win his first 11 starts during the Harbaugh era.

With 12 completions on 24 attempts for 263 yards and 3 TDs, McCarthy was a driving force behind the Wolverines’ 45-23 win over Ohio State. His completion percentage has been on the steady decline of late, but McCarthy has done nothing but win games and put Michigan in position to compete.

He still has a ways to go before becoming a complete QB, but so far, he’s been more than sufficient. At one time during the season, he led the nation in completion percentage and was one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in college football.

McNamara is out for the rest of the year, and presumably done at Michigan. Davis Warren, the No. 2 QB, and Alex Orji serve as UM’s backup corps — but unless injury or terrible play plagues McCarthy, there won’t be a reason for UM to look to another quarterback for the rest of this year or the next.

Wide receivers/tight ends: B

While they weren’t overly consistent with big plays, the receivers delivered when it mattered most — and that was this past Saturday during the blowout of Ohio State. At this point, it’d almost be a waste of time to sift through the stats from the entire season, especially since the lines vs. the Buckeyes basically say it all: Michigan’s wide receivers can get open and make big plays, contrary to popular belief expressed earlier in the season.

Cornelius Johnson had 4 catches for 160 yards and 2 TDs, including a 75-yard score that was one of the Wolverines’ best plays of the season.

Others, such as Ronnie Bell, AJ Henning and Roman Wilson, were contributors but often disappeared during key stretches. Overall, they came through when needed, warranting a solid grade of B for the WR group. Bell had 3 catches for 46 yards vs. OSU —  and, in hindsight, they were some of his most important catches during his career at Michigan.

As for the tight ends, Erick All only played in 1 game. He’ll return next year. As one of the top TEs in the country, along with Luke Schoonmaker, All has been the centerpiece of Michigan’s embarrassment of riches at the position.

Colston Loveland has made an impact during the past few weeks and should be a key component as the Wolverines pursue a Big Ten title and Playoff run. Loveland’s 45-yard touchdown — his only catch Saturday — was, perhaps, the difference-maker during The Game. That score put Michigan up for good at 24-20.

Running backs: A+

If not for injury vs. Illinois and limited action vs. Ohio State, Blake Corum probably would be the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. It looks like that honor will go to USC QB Caleb Williams, but Corum should be in line to win the Doak Walker (best RB) this season. Essentially, Corum missed the last 6 quarters of the season but still managed to finish among the top 10 in the nation in rushing yards and touchdowns (1,463 yards/18 rushing TDs).

Donovan Edwards became a Michigan legend with a pair of demoralizing — for Ohio State — touchdowns this past Saturday. Statistically, he was nowhere near Corum this season — but he absolutely delivered (216 rushing yards), while injured (right hand in cast), during The Game. Everything else prior to this past Saturday was merely a warmup for the Wolverines, who have dismantled the Buckeyes the past 2 seasons.

Offensive line: A

Joe Moore Award … again?!

Michigan’s line, anchored by right left tackle Ryan Hayes and center Olu Oluwatami, made holes for the running game and kept McCarthy upright and healthy for the entire season. The names have changed over the past 4 or 5 years, but the Wolverines keep pumping out stout lines.

Year-to-year and in-season development has always been the theme for Harbaugh, and this year’s unit is carry on the tradition.

Defensive line: A

Mazi Smith and Kris Jenkins in the middle, with Mike Morris roaring from the edge — the Wolverines D-line reminded of … well … wait. Michigan’s D-line has been rock-solid since 2014, easily the most consistent position group during the past decade.

Michigan had 32 sacks during the regular season, just 2 fewer than last year’s total. Many saw a major drop-off coming due to the absence of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, but that clearly wasn’t the case this season.

Linebackers: B+

Junior Colson is going to be a star, but you already knew that. He is the future leader of a position group that has been traditionally solid under Harbaugh. Michael Barrett, a senior, had his best season in Ann Arbor, finishing with 57 tackles (second-most on the team). Colson led with 80 stops, putting him in the top 20 in the Big Ten.

But remember this: Michigan’s defense was quick and efficient this year, seeing far fewer snaps than teams in the rest of the conference.

Secondary: A-

DJ Turner turned into a great cover man, improving on man-to-man technique and overall spacing. No more out-of-position mistakes for Turner, who led UM with 8 pass break-ups this year.

Speaking of pass break-ups, Mike Sainristil had one of the most important PBUs in recent Wolverines history, negating a touchdown for OSU TE Cade Stover this past weekend and helping to book UM’s second straight win over its bitter rival. He also had 2 sacks this season — not bad for a former WR, huh?

Special teams: A+

Does the name Jake Moody mean anything to you? He kicked 5 field goals during Michigan’s 29-7 win over Michigan State and he nailed the game-winner with 13 seconds to play in a 19-17 win over Illinois. Moody, the 2021 Lou Groza winner, has solidified his status in the UM record books, scoring a nation-leading 131 points this season.

Nobody took one to the house against Michigan this season, which allowed just 52 punt-return yards in 12 games.