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MMQB: It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine

This wasn’t a game; it was whooping.

Both on and off the field, the Michigan State Spartans football team proved to be what Butch Jones would refer to as “losers of life.” Mark Dantonio had his team show up 10 minutes late to warm ups before locking arms and walking end to end in an attempt to intimidate the Wolverines. This would be the only time the Spartans’ offense managed 100 yards of anything.

I’m not pearl clutching. I love trash talk. I loved Baker Mayfield planting the flag, and I’m of the belief that taunting shouldn’t be a personal foul. Howevah, you simply do not wake up a team more talented than you. It doesn’t work against LeBron James, it didn’t work with the stupid stake planting stunt in 2014, and it didn’t work for Mark Dantonio Saturday.

The Game

The only thing worse than Michigan State’s childish (you could call it “little-brotherish”) posturing before the game was their performance once it actually started.

Brian Lewerke was 5-of-25 for 66 yards, LJ Scott managed just 25 yards on 10 carries, and after sacks were accounted for, the Spartan offense saw their yards per carry sink under one. Not even Dantonio’s typical witchcraft, nor the rain gods could salvage such a pathetic effort.

The defense held the fort for as long as possible, but their success was less deliberate and more a result of the Wolverines’ recent bad habit of playing with their food. Quinn Nordin has entered the second phase of his Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon act, but that movie ends in redemption... I think... It’s been a while.

Patterson missed a couple reads, though the most egregious one may not have actually been a mistake. He finished 14-of-25 for 212 yards and two scores. I get the sense that this offense is just scratching the surface of it’s potential, and we saw a rather conservative game plan in East Lansing. This was likely due in part to weather and in part because Harbaugh didn’t consider the Spartans much of a threat (Ron Howard voice: “They weren’t”). Shea will continue to improve, but I think it’s important to consider just how much of an improvement he’s been over last year’s contingent.

Against Wisconsin and Michigan State, Patterson owns a 61 percent completion rate, averaging 168 yards per game through the air at a 7.3 YPA clip. He’s added 57 yards per game on the ground while scoring three times.

It’s more than his production; it’s his presence and the threat opposing defenses consider him to be. Every time he keeps it on the option, the defensive end and outside linebacker hesitate just a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more.

This has helped Karan Higdon rack up 249 yards on 52 carries the last two weeks compared to 19 for 85 against the same opponents in 2017. As a team, the Wolverines ran for 503 yards against MSU and Wisco, 343 more than in 2017. Additionally, Michigan scored 39 more points against the two teams in 2018 than they did in 2017. The results speak for themselves, and they’re not all that surprising considering.

Looking Ahead

Despite looking rather pedestrian in a shocking loss to the Spartans and a bafflingly close call against Indiana, Penn State still scares me after what they did to Don Brown’s defense a year ago. They jumped on the Wolverines early and put them away after Michigan’s offense failed to fully close the gap. Running QBs give this scheme headaches.

We’ll talk more about that next week because this is a rather important bye for the Wolverines. Tarik Black dressed Saturday, and he’s got another two weeks to get in shape before the Nittany Lions. Rashan Gary’s absence looms even larger after Nick Bosa’s decision to leave Ohio State in order to prepare for the NFL draft. Will Gary be back? Will Black be a more featured part of the offense? Those are big questions to consider.

Michael Dwumfour’s health is also something to keep an eye on. I have no idea how he’s played (effectively) the last two games, but he’s proven himself to be one of the biggest badasses on the team. Devin Bush looked to play dinged up as well. Offensively, Juwan Bushell-Beaty left Saturday’s game, and he could use the extra rest too.

Around the Country

I’m taking this a different route this week after Saturday night. Earlier in the day, ESPN’s College GameDay ran an unbelievable story on Purdue Super fan Tyler Trent. I feel obliged to post the video in its entirety because it’s that spectacular. Gameday has always been really good at the human interest stuff, and this week’s dive may be their Mona Lisa.

For those who have yet to watch (you really really should), and don’t have the time now, let me break it down. Tyler is a 20-year-old Purdue student battling terminal cancer. After beating the disease once, it came roaring back as Tyler began his studies last year. He’s currently under Hospice care at his home, but was able to muster the strength to make it to the game this weekend. I’m not doing this story justice, WATCH THE VIDEO.

My family recently went through a very serious medical situation that put a lot of things in perspective. Human life is the most valuable and precious thing on this planet, and I encourage you to hug your loved ones just a little bit tighter tonight or send them a text after you finish reading this just to check in. You never know when you might not get another chance.

Tyler is an inspiring kid undeservingly put in the most horrible situation. Watching Purdue boat race the Buckeyes in West Lafayette was sweet enough as a Michigan alum but knowing how much it meant to this kid made it even sweeter on a night where we were all Boilermakers.

Dan’s Picks (19-21: 2-3 last week)

Honestly, I’ll take a week where my losses are the Buckeyes, Spartans and Nittany Lions.

App State -8 @ Georgia Southern

Wyoming @ Colorado State -2

UNC +9.5 @ Virginia

TCU -14 @ Kansas

San Diego State @ Nevada +3