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Top 10 Plays: No. 7 Michigan 29, Air Force 13

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Yes, you can probably guess No. 1.

NCAA Football: Air Force at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, we at Maize n Brew will count down Michigan’s best 10 plays from its most recent game. There is no set formula which determines how we choose or rank these plays. The top spot could be awarded to a play consisting of individual brilliance or a simple play that has a significant impact on the outcome of the game. It depends on how we are feeling each week.

There is one set piece of criteria, though: these are Michigan’s top 10 plays, not the game’s. You did not come to this website to watch the opponent’s highlights. You came to watch the best of what the Wolverines have to offer each week. So that’s exactly what we are going to give you.

10. Hudson’s Haul (0:27 4Q)

Khaleke Hudson had two prime opportunities earlier in the contest to record his first career interception, but could not quite bring in either of them. Third time’s the charm, right? Apparently so, as Hudson ran underneath Nate Romine’s last-gasp lollipop for the pick, creating Michigan’s only forced turnover to seal the victory.

9. The Greatest Kicker of All-Time (0:09 2Q)

Exaggeration? Ok, maybe.

However, Quinn Nordin has exceeded all expectations in his first three games — and been relied on more than the Michigan faithful had anticipated or wished. He was a perfect 5-for-5 on Saturday, tying the school’s single-game record for most made field goals. Most of his kicks were chippies due to Michigan’s offense shifting into neutral (or reverse) when it entered the red zone. Even so, he advertised again that he can boom the big ones in stressful situations. With the score tied at 6-6 and the first half about to expire, Nordin nailed a 49-yard field goal that would have been good from 59. Any lead is better than no lead, and Nordin delivered in a big way in that moment.

8. Two Birds with One Helmet (3:26 4Q)

Michigan’s offense had generated several chunk plays against Air Force, but facing 3rd & 4 with 3:26 left and a nine-point lead, the Wolverines didn’t need a chunk. They just needed a first down. Well, they got both because Wilton Speight connected with Tarik Black on a 10-yard comeback before Black broke away from two tacklers for an additional 14 yards. The 24-yard gain moved the chains and all but ended this game.

The real highlight of this critical play was not the throw, reception, or run after the catch, but the block by Karan Higdon. Standing to Speight’s right, he recognized that Air Force was bringing a blitz from the left and after the snap, immediately shuffled over to stop it. Except there were two free Falcons charging in, putting him in a 1 vs. 2 spot. So Higdon took on the inside blitzer, lowered his head, and delivered a blow that popped off the defender’s helmet and impeded the second defender’s path. It was an excellent display of pass blocking that allowed to Speight to throw the ball cleanly.

7. Ouch (9:50 3Q)

How much money would you accept to have Rashan Gary tee off on you?

The answer: not enough.

6. Ty’s Sigh (0:47 3Q)

Ty Isaac reached the end zone not once but twice against Air Force.

Yet he finished with zero touchdowns.

The first one was correctly called back, as Isaac had stepped out of bounds after galloping for 32 yards. The second one was not. Michigan called power to the strong side, and thanks to Michael Onwenu’s seal on his pull and an Air Force safety totally running himself out of the play, Isaac exploded into the open field. Isaac sprinted past a defender whom Kekoa Crawford had pushed to the turf and held off another one just enough to dive and extend the ball across the pylon for a dazzling 45-yard touchdown.

Except the officials flagged Crawford for holding, which uuuhhhhhhh.

What should have been a touchdown was brought back to the 29-yard line. The run would have been higher on this list if it had ended with seven points, but it still put Michigan in a position to kick a field goal and extend its lead to two possessions.

5. The Pain Panini (6:10 4Q)

With 6:10 remaining and trailing by two scores, Air Force needed to score and needed to score fast, so the Falcons went away from their bread and butter and dropped back to pass. Big mistake. Rashan Gary shoved back the right tackle three yards before blowing past him, and Chase Winovich yanked the left tackle aside with ease. The two then made a reservation to meet in the middle — where Arion Worthman stood.

Gary and Winovich do not skip out on reservations.

The sack showcased what has made Gary and Winovich such threats on Michigan’s defensive line. It also was pivotal because it forced Air Force to resort to, well, the air.

4. Devin Bush’s Teleportation Device (0:46 1Q)

After Chris Evans’ fumble, Air Force was threatening to score a touchdown and take the lead. The Falcons had 3rd & Goal on Michigan’s 7-yard line. They decided that this was the moment to drop back to pass for the first time. Arion Worthman took the snap and looked left to find no one open. Devin Bush, Jr., who was assigned to cover running back Parker Wilson (No. 36), diagnoses that Wilson is staying in to pass block. So, in a flash, he turns on his teleportation device, shoots right past Wilson, and tracks down a panicked Worthman for a monstrous sack, forcing Air Force the send the kicking unit.

3. A WILD OFFENSIVE TD APPEARS (1:10 4Q)

Who knew that the rules permitted Michigan’s offense to do that in this game?

2. The H2 Hummer Hammer (8:15 4Q)

This and Devin Bush, Jr.’s sack were two very similar plays. Air Force found itself in a goal-to-go scenario heading towards the north end zone, and both times, the Falcons surrendered big losses. Bush’s was on a third-down sack. This was a second-down combo by Lavert Hill and Khaleke Hudson to completely snuff out a toss sweep. Hill and Hudson used their speed to beat their blockers to Tim McVey, whom they met five yards behind the line of scrimmage. They then escorted McVey out of bounds for a seven-yard loss, and suddenly Air Force had 3rd & Goal on the 12-yard line. This not only all but ensured that the Falcons would not score a touchdown, but it pushed them far enough back that their kicker, Luke Strebel, hooked a 29-yard field goal wide left.

This was Michigan’s biggest defensive play because of the stakes. Air Force had just run off about seven minutes on this methodical drive and was preparing to cut Michigan’s lead to one score midway through the fourth quarter. The Wolverines’ defense was beginning to look somewhat gassed, and all of the pressure was about to be placed upon their offense, which had struggled to finish drives throughout the afternoon. Michigan’s defense needed a big stop, and Hill and Hudson teamed up accordingly.

1. DPJPRTD (14:10 3Q)

I guess good things can happen when the five-star gets the ball in his hands.

Michigan was in dire need of a touchdown. Its offense could not find the end zone, and its defense could not be asked to do everything. So Donovan Peoples-Jones fielded the long Air Force punt and saw the path to paydirt open before his eyes. He sped to the left and then swerved through the Falcons’ coverage team to the right. He was not touched until he needed to beat the punter near the 15-yard line. Peoples-Jones shook off the poor tackle attempt, tiptoed the sideline, and celebrated across the goal line.

It was a “special” play by a “special” freshman. And it was the game-deciding score.

Poll

What was Michigan’s top play vs. Air Force?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Hudson’s Haul (0:27 4Q)
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    The Greatest Kicker of All-Time (0:09 2Q)
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Two Birds with One Helmet (3:26 4Q)
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    Ouch (9:50 3Q)
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Ty’s Sigh (0:47 3Q)
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    The Pain Panini (6:10 4Q)
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    Devin Bush’s Teleportation Device (0:46 1Q)
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    A WILD OFFENSIVE TD APPEARS (1:10 4Q)
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    The H2 Hammer (8:15 4Q)
    (2 votes)
  • 80%
    DPJPRTD (14:10 3Q)
    (138 votes)
172 votes total Vote Now