The No. 12 Michigan Wolverines (5-1, 3-0) remained undefeated in Big Ten play with a 42-21 win over Maryland. The Terps move to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference, not that anybody cares.
The Terps actually led 7-3 early in this one thanks to a 98-yard kickoff return by Ty Johnson. After that, however, Michigan’s defense stuffed Maryland’s offense in a suitcase and put it in the back of the closet until next year. And not just on the floor for easy retrieval, but back in the crawlspace behind the old VCRs that the Wolverines still keep around for some reason.
(“Gentlemen, you see that Sanyo VCR right there? Fielding Yost used that VCR!“)
The Wolverines led by 10 at the half and by 20 in the third quarter. Maryland cut it to 13 points early in the fourth quarter, but there was never any concern. It wasn’t even necessary to put the touchdown on the scoreboard. It’s the same reason there is no bulb for strike three on a baseball scoreboard.
Michigan held the Terps to just 220 yards of total offense, which happens to be the most yards they have allowed in Big Ten play this season.
The Wolverine offense, meanwhile, had its best passing day of the year with 294 yards through the air. It’s actually the most yards passing Michigan has had since the last time the Terps were in town and Wilton Speight threw for 99% of the Wolverines’ 365 yards on that day.
When Michigan Was On Offense
As was just mentioned, the Wolverines threw the ball pretty well on the day.
Quarterback Shea Patterson completed 19-of-27 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The 282 yards is his career high at Michigan. He was over that number in seven of his 10 career starts at Ole Miss, however.
The number should have actually been higher this week, but he was robbed of a deep touchdown to Donovan Peoples-Jones thanks to a terrible holding call.
Another week, another BLATANT holding call on a Michigan RB. This one takes a DPJ TD off the board. Look at the Maryland defender reacting to the assault. For shame. pic.twitter.com/BImcxwYPyU
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) October 8, 2018
The gain would have been nice for Peoples-Jones, who had a catch-and-run touchdown of 34 yards on the day as well. This came a couple of moments after taking a vicious head shot from a Terrapin defender. That was the only (allowed) catch of the day for DPJ.
Nico Collins also only had one catch, this one a 51-yarder that was a bit underthrown and very nearly into double coverage. I don’t mind the throw because I think it is time to start trusting Collins to make those plays, and trusting Patterson to start throwing them. Just try to keep them 50/50 balls instead of 33/67 balls.
Grant Perry was active in this one, catching three passes for 24 yards and throwing one for 12 yards. It should have been for more, but his arm yipped and that’s why wide receivers are asked to catch balls instead of throw them.
Freshman Ronnie Bell now has three catches in the last three weeks, and two of them have gone for touchdowns. Against Nebraska he scored from 56 yards well after I stopped watching that torture porn of a game, and in this one he caught two passes for 24 yards, scoring once from 22 yards out.
The 22-yarder looked like a sure interception near the goal line, but Bell came streaking out of nowhere like…well…a streaker. He snatched the ball before it hit the safety’s hands and sidestepped his way into the end zone.
If you are unfamiliar with Bell, his commitment to Michigan raised many, many eyebrows because he was ranked so low by the experts. He was actually a basketball player who didn’t really do football camps, so other than his high school film (like who even watches that?), the recruiting services ignored him.
He was basically rated two stars higher than you, which is why idiots on the internet never stopped using his commitment as a measuring stick for everything Jim Harbaugh was doing wrong on the recruiting trail.
Ohio State gets a commitment from a preferred walk-on who is ranked 43 spots higher in the WR rankings than a Michigan scholarship commitment.
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) January 27, 2018
Tight end Zach Gentry led the way for the Wolverines with seven catches for 112 yards. As an aside, Ohio State’s tight ends have caught 5 passes for 51 yards this season.
But since we’re here, you’re probably wanting a similar comparison at wide receiver, so let’s do that.
Michigan’s wide receivers have caught 57 passes for 761 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. Ohio State’s leading receiver is Parris Campbell, who has 35 receptions for 501 yards and seven touchdowns. In total, OSU’s wideouts have caught 143 passes for 1,961 yards and 22 touchdowns this season.
Of course, the Wolverines are missing Tarik Black, who I believe would have been one of the top three receivers in the conference.
It was an okay day on the ground for Michigan, but not a great day. The Wolverines rushed for 171 yards on 40 attempts. Karan Higdon led them per usual, rushing for 103 yards on 25 carries (4.1 avg). Chris Evans was held out for the third game in a row, so he is missed. In his place, however, former walk-on Tru Wilson has played well.
By the way, the Buckeyes haven’t rushed for 171 yards since TCU, which was four games ago.
The offensive line was okay. The lack of a push at the line of scrimmage isn’t a great sign, but 171 yards rushing against a conference opponent that isn’t Rutgers isn’t terrible.
There were a few times where Shea Patterson was pressured, but he is maybe the best in the Big Ten at getting out of trouble. He scrambles and evades with the intention of throwing the football to an open receiver. He is becoming one of the most dangerous players in the conference.
And Jim Harbaugh is maybe getting a little more lax in the safety department.
By the way, fullback Ben Mason is a beast. However, I assume he’s going to miss a game eventually because the government will need his help in saving an important government official who has been kidnapped by a rogue para-military group hellbent on destroying our way of life.
"Why does Ben Mason get so many touches."
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) October 8, 2018
When Michigan Was On Defense
I enjoy watching great defenses, but I don’t enjoy watching bad offense, which is what Maryland brought into Michigan on Saturday.
There is talent there, but they were no match for the Wolverines.
The Terps actually rushed for 147 yards on 37 carries, but 42 of that came on a scramble by backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome in the fourth quarter when Michigan was up 35-14.
In fact, Maryland rushed for 91 yards on their final two drives, which came when the game was well over. And 78 of those yards came on the final drive of the game. In other words, they were meaningless.
Michigan was just as stifling through the air, holding a pair of Maryland quarterbacks to a combined 7-of-13 for 73 yards and two sacks. The long pass play of the day was 19 yards, which is also known as a “stop” by the Ohio State defensive coaches.
Quarterbacks Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome were harassed more than a random woman tweeting about sports.
Defensive end Rashan Gary did not play, but there didn’t appear to be any drop off. Although, now that I think about it, this was the first time in exactly 365 days that Chase Winovich didn’t have a tackle for loss. Do we chalk that up as a coincidence?
Defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour had a sack, but left the game on a cart. He is apparently not injured as badly as originally thought, which is great news for a Michigan defensive line that has been growing by the week. That number has reached its limit, but the production is spread out among a larger group than the Wolverines have had in past seasons.
Cornerback Brandon Watson had a fantastic interception while defending the slot on an inside route. Normally, that’s going to be a catch for the receiver simply because he attains inside leverage and keeps it. Watson, however, was able to keep pace with the receiver after his pivot inside. He picked the pass off and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
I don’t know what else to say, other than the lack of big plays allowed is so foreign to me.
When Michigan Was On Special Teams
Giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown isn’t good, but when it’s Ty Johnson, you can’t really be too upset.
Punter Will Hart only punted once, and put the ball into the end zone, so he failed on the day, but I don’t think anybody is too upset.
The rest of the return game was pretty average.
What Does It All Mean
It means that things are coming together pretty well for the Wolverines.
At least against Maryland.
This is still the same Michigan team that fell down 17-0 to Northwestern a little over a week ago. Even though we all knew Pat Fitzgerald would let the Wolverines back in, it was still an alarming deficit.
We will know more about this Michigan team after this coming weekend when they host a Wisconsin offense that is more one-dimensional than a conversation between bourbon aficionados.
It also means that the Wolverines still very much control their own destiny and they are gaining strength all over the field.
Karan Higdon has rushed for 100 yards in every Big Ten game this season, and the Michigan defense has held each Big Ten opponent under 100 yards in either rushing or passing.
While the Wolverines cannot afford to look ahead to The Game, it is important to note that Ohio State cannot run the ball right now. That makes them one-dimensional, and a one-dimensional offense against Michigan’s defense is just asking to be debacled.
The Road To The Game
Sept 1 – at Notre Dame 17-24 (0-1)
Sept 8 – Western Michigan 49-3 (1-1)
Sept 15 – SMU 45-20 (2-1)
Sept 22 – Nebraska 56-10 (3-1, 1-0)
Sept 29 – at Northwestern 20-17 (4-1, 2-0)
Oct 6 – Maryland 42-21 (5-1, 3-0)