While it takes the cake as Michigan’s ugliest win of the season, the Wolverines got the job done, defeating Maryland, 31-24, to advance to 11-0.
Despite things not going as the experts may have predicted, there were still some big contributors who served as “guardians of victory” in this one. Here are the players we believe made the biggest contributions and will go home with a game ball.
We saw Blake Corum get plenty of run last week, particularly at the end of the game, and Michigan opted to go right back to the well, giving Corum 28 carries in this game. He once again found some success, going for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
While this season hasn’t been as successful as last year for Corum, his presence as the bell cow is surely comforting. It also doesn’t hurt he’s been basically automatic in goal line situations this year, as he contributed there again today with two more scores. He’s taken a beating over the last two weeks with so many carries, but Michigan is going to need him again if it wants to ground and pound again against the Buckeyes.
The fifth-year senior has had a nose for the football all season, and he came up big again today with two major interceptions. The first came in the third quarter, where he jumped a route and set the offense up with solid field position to score a big touchdown. The second came on an under-thrown fade to get the ball back late in the fourth quarter.
Coming into the season, there was some concern about the secondary outside of Will Johnson and Sainristil, but both of them have certainly held up their end of the bargain to help solidify the secondary as one of the best in the country. Both Sainristil and the rest of the secondary will be badly needed next week against Ohio State’s prolific passing attack.
While this game came down to the wire, the defensive line lived in the Maryland backfield and made things tough on quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and company. So many guys made contributions and had solid individual efforts, such as Mason Graham and Braiden McGregor, who each had 0.5 sacks, and Kenneth Grant, who had a sack and four tackles.
Physicality up front has propelled this team for much of the season, and it will be much needed next week. Putting pressure on Kyle McCord and the Buckeye offense will help prevent the big plays they have been reliant on for much of the season. Establishing the “run wall” will also be critical to cause some tough sledding for the offense.
Watch this punt:
This helped to set up a massive safety that ultimately gave the Wolverines a seven-point lead to cement the victory. While he hasn’t been used much this year (for good reason), Tommy Doman has been spectacular in his limited action and helped pin the Terps deep more than a few times late in the game.
In addition to Doman, the punt return unit came up big today, too, specifically Christian Boivin, who blocked a punt in the first quarter that would eventually be batted out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
By helping to cause two massive safeties at different points in the game, special teams definitely made a massive impact on this game.