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MnB staff roundtable: why Michigan is moving in the right direction

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Football isn’t what Maryland does

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Notre Dame at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Fourteen years Notre Dame has to stare at that demoralizing score, wondering such things as, “Why did our coach throw so many passes in the rain,” and “jeez, John O’Neil, even we know that was a bad call”

So something obviously clicked with the offense, and I’m most proud to see a zero next to the turnover stat from that game. I wouldn’t even say it was power football, it was just “beat into submission” football and for once weather didn’t derail a Michigan gameplan, it enhanced it.

And now we move onto Maryland, who looked like a world-beater after week two. Before the season we wondered if Mike Locksley was just sour on Josh Gattis not wanting to join him, but now it appears he really needed help making his team better.

Take it away, what does the outlook for the rest of the season now feel like, for the team, for Harbaugh’s plan, for the modified expectations...did anyone’s clothing dry quicker than mine?

Which Halloween candy is the one true Halloween candy, and which makes you a communist for handing out

Jared: I will be basking in the majesty of that victory until they scatter my ashes across the Big House. That was, without a doubt, the most complete victory of the Harbaugh era, and it came against a hated rival.

What I loved most about last week, was the return of the swagger of this Michigan team. Many of us were bemoaning the lack of energy and enthusiasm we were seeing from Harbaugh and the team in general, but those complaints now seem illogical and misguided. Give me guys that are throwing the ball up 17 every time. Give me a defense that declines a holding penalty to try and keep their opponents under 100 yards. I am here for it. I want coaches that climb trees, refer to people as jive turkeys, and run their opponents into the turf with no remorse.

This newfound swagger will serve this team well as they look to finish the season strong. Maryland is the next victim, and I don’t see this team letting up on the road on Saturday. The Terrapins looked like they were going to be the big story in the Big Ten early in the season. Now I think they would put up a stronger fight if they strategically stacked 11 bales of hay on the field.

Maryland is going to try to run the ball with Javon Leake and Anthony MacFarland, but they will not be able to. Josh Jackson, the son of former Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson, is a warm blooded body, but won’t be much more than that against a Michigan defense that is FEELING itself right now.

Penn State beat this Maryland team 59-0 in their own home. The line for this game opened up at 14.5, and has since ballooned to 21. I still like Michigan to cover in a romp.

Is this finally the game Shea Patterson throws for over 300 yards? I am of the belief that he will. Michigan needs to use the next 3 opponents to sharpen the blades, so that we can all get our collective hopes up for an upset in late November. Anything can happen guys.

Jay W: The 2014 Michigan/Notre Dame game was a travesty. At the time, we believed we had an indefinite amount of time to stew over one of the worst games in the Hoke era. Even in 2016 when for a while it looked like Notre Dame was on its way down and Michigan was on its way up, I had a Notre Dame fan say to me, “Well, we’ll always have 31-0.”

FORTY FIVE-FOURTEEN BABY. STEW ON THAT FOR FOURTEEN YEARS.

That was simply the most fun I’ve had in the Big House since… well the last Notre Dame game at the Big House. The team looked crisp, the play calling adapted to what was going on on the field, the guys looked like they had an energy we just hadn’t seen this season. Harbaugh teams sometimes take their foot off the gas when up late, and during halftime I commented that I thought that the score might get close on the scoreboard, even if it never looked like Notre Dame had the chance to complete the comeback. That’s not at all what happened. They stayed tough on defense, they kept throwing the ball up once the weather permitted it, and the second stringers had the green light to go for the jugular. I loved it, and I hope we see that ruthlessness again when a certain team that is currently spiraling downward comes to town looking to save their season.

First we have this week. The worst possible thing would be a repeat of the Illinois game. That ended up being a more or less comfortable win, but the team looked disorganized, and clearly started thinking ahead in the second half. With the bye week looming, the team needs to remain focused on this game. With College Park a short distance away from alumni-hotbed DC, it should be a pretty friendly crowd. Michigan has the opportunity to put on the show and give it a home game feel, an exclamation on last week’s performance. Maryland actually leads Illinois on SP+, but that doesn’t pass the eye test. Maryland has been significantly less impressive (this would still be the case if Illinois had falled just short against Wisconsin but, you know, they didn’t), and the scoreline has to reflect that.

If they can maintain positive momentum going into the bye week, and keep it going in the rivalry game out of the bye week, who knows what can happen. 10-3 with a bowl win would be better than many of us predicted post-Wisconsin. But 11-2 is still on the table. It wouldn’t be the first time Michigan played spoiler to an unstoppable Buckeye team.

David: That dominating victory over Notre Dame was something most were surprised about for a few reasons.

To start, Michigan turned the ball over 17 times before Saturday night. They were facing Notre Dame, who was second in the country for turnover margin. They’ve relied on teams turning the ball over and the weather played to their favor. Michigan fumbled the ball but didn’t turn it over once, which was huge. It was a game Notre Dame ended as the favorite by a point with most betting lines and the 31-point victory was a huge eye opener. Less mental mistakes and poor decisions occurred throughout the entire game compared to past performances.

Second, the Wolverines dominated just about every stat of the game putting up 457 yards of total offense and 303 yards on the ground. They blocked very well on the offensive line, which turned into three runs of at least 20 yards by three different running backs.

Third, Shea had time to pass, was solid with crisp passes in a monsoon and made better decisions while throwing 6-for-12 attempts and two touchdowns.

A few other reactions from the game:

  1. The one pass interference call on Hudson was likely the worst call ever in the history of college football. That favorable call turned into a touchdown when the Irish had nothing else going for them.
  2. It felt like they didn’t want to be there and Brian Kelly looked miserable.
  3. This was the largest margin of victory over a top-10 team since October 1, 1977.
  4. The last six quarters, Michigan has out scored two top-10 teams 66-21.
  5. The last three games, they’re also averaging 447 yards of total offense and 36 points per game.

They found something in that Penn State game and it’s really shown. They’ve got a fight and grit when down with hopes they continue to the end.

Now, this may be a team playing their best football at the end of the season and they can’t look past their next opponent. I think the game at Maryland gives them time to continue moving guys in the rotation, some real beneficial game time for younger players and keep the foot on the gas pedal.

My expectations are simple, blow out your next three opponents and play your best game against Ohio State for a chance to win. While a win or loss may not determine the Big Ten East division, a win over a potential College Football Playoff team and your biggest rival would help end the season on a positive note. A quality bowl win could only add icing to the cake which will help them finish at 11-2. They’ve only done that five times in the past 140 years or Michigan football so to me that’s a successful season. I know that their loft goals were not achieved by playing for the Big Ten Championship, but it’s another step and monkey off Jim Harbaugh by beating Ohio State, but also their three biggest rivals in the same year.

Jim Harbaugh has got them back to what they’ve done before, and the next step is to get over that hurdle of winning the East division. He got out in front of the rumors about him going to the NFL with recruits and I think that was great.

Lastly, best Halloween candy is Reese’s hands down. I ate way too much of my kids candy but deserve it after walking around in 40 MPH winds and 32 degree weather for two hours.