For one drive, the anxiety from South Bend lingered.
Hey the game from last week never ended!— Maize n Brew (@MaizenBrew) September 8, 2018
Michigan ran just four plays before punting against the Western Michigan Broncos, a defense that allowed 55 points last Friday to Syracuse. Also, a Bronco defense that ranked No. 122 in rushing defense per S&P.
Cue grumbles. A false start, two short runs by Karan Higdon and an incomplete pass reminded too many folks of the sputtering against Notre Dame.
The 5-foot-10, 202-pound Higdon finally provided the offensive catalyst on drive No. 2.
nfl_redzone: Karan Higdon breaks a couple tackles to pick up 43 yards Fox Sports 1 College Football: Western Michigan at Michigan https://t.co/R0VnCX7d8C pic.twitter.com/bYsubnc1hj— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) September 8, 2018
His 43-yard scamper flipped field position, and led to a Shea Patterson to Sean McKeon touchdown connection two plays later — the first Michigan scoring toss since McKeon’s catch against Ohio State last November.
Higdon bolstered the lead less than three minutes later with a 67-yard jaunt to make matters 14-0.
#Michigan RB Karan Higdon for a 67-yard run and a Wolverine touchdown! #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/O2b0mxwINs— Michigan Sports News (@SportsGuyMI) September 8, 2018
From there, the rout felt inevitable. After only 58 yards rushing against the Irish in game one, the Wolverines amassed 308 at nearly nine yards a clip against their directional foes. The constant punishment on the ground set up Shea Patterson’s 44-yard touchdown pass to Nico Collins — the first touchdown pass to a receiver in 364 days.
At 35-0, the rest of the game was academic. However, the offensive avalanche buried the memories of the first drive. Without Higdon’s first-quarter burst, Pep Hamilton’s offense may have continued to scuffle.
For perspective, a beating of a dead horse is only step one is the redemption story of this offense. Last year, Higdon and company compiled several productive outings, but only against the likes of Rutgers, Indiana and Minnesota.
With continued offensive growth leading up to the Wisconsin game in a month, today would be seen as the turning point towards an upward trajectory.