Though the Nebraska Cornhuskers were the best team the Michigan Wolverines have seen to date, it was unlikely to be too close of a contest in Lincoln. Still, not many expected this game to feel essentially over after about eight minutes of gameplay, but that was basically the case following Michigan’s dominant 45-7 win.
After a 75-yard opening drive the took five minutes and ended with a Roman Wilson touchdown, the Wolverine defense took the field to face the current Nebraska quarterback, Heinrich Haarberg. Unfortunately for Haarberg, his first pass of the afternoon ended up in the hands of Kenneth Grant and Michigan would be up 14-0 just three plays later.
The play: Deserved glory
Michigan fans are well aware of just how impressive sophomore Kenneth Grant has been this season, as the defensive tackle causes havoc up front every single week. While interceptions are not a requirement for Grant, it felt extremely appropriate for him to get some wider recognition on Saturday after his strong start to the year.
More on Grant in a moment, but Braiden McGregor deserves some praise here as well. It feels like McGregor has finally taken that next step and is becoming a real threat off the edge, and it is quite fitting that these two combined to set the tone early on against a fragile Nebraska offense.
The impact: Hope never stood a chance
The 2021 trip to Lincoln featured a late game-tying field goal drive and a massive fumble with a couple minutes left to set up the game-winner. As exciting as that dramatic victory was, the Wolverines decided to end any chance of an upset right away on Saturday, scoring twice in the first eighth of the game, demoralizing the home crowd — and the home sideline.
Michigan impressively built this early buffer in a multitude of ways. J.J. McCarthy hit Roman Wilson with an absolute dart that featured one of the best catches of the season, the defensive line mauled up front and forced the interception, and Kalel Mullings turned third-and-short into a 20-yard touchdown, showcasing the variety of methods the Wolverines can use to takeover.
The bigger picture: Pressure makes points
Jim Harbaugh has built this team along the lines, and after back-to-back Joe Moore Awards for the offensive unit, perhaps it is time for the defensive front to get some accolades. The two-deep at edge is off to a great start and will play a big role all season long as opponents are going to have to throw often given the expected scorelines.
However, the defensive tackles are maybe even more ridiculous. Kris Jenkins and Mason Graham are monsters in the middle, but Grant is just as talented and disruptive. He might not bring in another pick this season, but his impact is going to be felt every time he takes the field.