clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The turning point: when Michigan changed momentum to top Florida

New, comment

While the Michigan-Florida game was ran by mainly defense, there was one specific drive that stuck out and seemed to change the game and lead the Wolverines to victory.

NCAA Football: Florida at Michigan Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

While No. 17 Florida talked a lot of talk before the game, it was No. 11 Michigan who let their play talk and won the season opener in Arlington, Texas 33-17 on Saturday.

The Wolverines controlled the game for the most point, but there was a brief period in the second quarter where things seemed to be falling apart for Michigan.

Two back-to-back interceptions that were returned for touchdowns gave the Gators a 17-10 lead, and suddenly a new life on their sideline.

While Michigan’s defense did take over for the remainder of the game (not allowing a touchdown), the game got a different feel from one possession that may not be thought about as much.

With that, I give you my turning point of the game.

The Drive

After throwing a pair of INT’s returned for touchdowns, quarterback Wilton Speight was taken out of the game for Michigan for a couple of possessions.

While Harbaugh took him out to “reset and calm down”, Speight had two options of basically coming back on the field and carrying that negative energy, or erasing the past possessions from his memory and changing the game.

To start the second half, he chose the route of changing the game.

Speight knew that what his offense would do for the remainder of the game, was the difference between his team starting of the 2017 campaign with a victory or defeat.

NCAA Football: Florida at Michigan Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

"The vibe of the team, you know," Speight told Mlive. "Everyone's following me. I can't go out there and hang my head or have a bad attitude, because people feed off this position."

With Michigan receiving the ball to start the second half, Harbaugh didn't shy away from his second year starting quarterback. Speight came out firing the ball.

After an incompletion on first down, it started with a pair of receptions for Sean McKeon for a total of 15 yards, the first one resulting in a ten yard reception to start the drive off with a first down.

Then after a couple more completions from Speight to Grant Perry for nine yards, the Wolverines had a decision to make on a fourth and one.

Michigan elected to stick with the offense from their own 44-yard line. It payed off.

Ty Isaac broke off an 18-yard run, giving the Wolverines the first down and more momentum that they clearly needed.

NCAA Football: Florida at Michigan Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It was then Speight who stepped up again. He connected with Perry for the third time on the drive, going for 28 yards to the Florida 10-yard line.

From there, Karan Higdon asserted his dominance taking a pair of carries to get in the end zone, the touchdown being from three yards out, giving Michigan the 20-17 lead.

Florida was shut down after that, and never took the lead back from Michigan again.

So while Michigan’s defense was the clear difference in this game, starting the second half off with a drive like that was monumental to how he Wolverines played the rest of the way by shifting momentum.

"I knew I had to come out ready to go, like the first half or the last two passes didn't even happen, and make some throws," Speight told Mlive. "And that's what I did."

For Harbaugh, it was the response of the game that changed everything, saying “that was a big drive for us, coming out of the half. Our team really responded after that.”

Michigan still has multiple parts of the game they will need to improve on to win moving forward, but for the start of the season, the offense showed that even in tough situations they can change the game.

Speight and the Wolverines did just that to start the second half against Florida, and that drive was enough to propel them to victory.