In classic Week 12 fashion, the Michigan Wolverines played a game that was too close for comfort. J.J. McCarthy was out of sync with his receivers, the defense allowed a few big plays through the air, and questionable playcalling kept this game extremely close.
However, this team stepped up when they needed to against the Maryland Terrapins, particularly on the defensive side, to earn the program’s 1,000th win, __.
Maryland moved the ball effectively on its first drive of the game, taking it 57 yards on 11 plays. But Michigan’s defense stood tall right inside of the red zone and forced the Terps to settle for a 35-yard field goal. It was an early 3-0 lead for the home team.
The Wolverines responded quickly, but at a cost. J.J. McCarthy hit Roman Wilson 23 yards down the field, but a big hit took Wilson out of the game. He returned to the sidelines in street clothes.
Then Blake Corum went to work as Michigan ran the ball on seven straight plays, finishing with a two-yard touchdown score for Corum. It was the first lead of the day for the Wolverines, 7-3.
On the ensuing Maryland drive, Michigan’s defense got to work. Michael Barrett stripped the ball from Taulia Tagovailoa, and Derrick Moore scooped it up and waltzed into the end zone:
Mike B with the strip sack and D Moore is there to pick it up and score! pic.twitter.com/4nkGylgrmm— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) November 18, 2023
Jaylen Harrell got in on the sack parade once Maryland got the ball back. This left the Terps punting from just outside of their own end zone. Christian Boivin made a perfect play to block the punt, which was then booted out of the end zone by Maryland’s punter for a safety.
We’ve now scored on offense, defense, and special teams…all in the first quarter! pic.twitter.com/vbXxwvhZze— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) November 18, 2023
Michigan’s offense continued to pound the rock, well into Maryland territory on the drive following the safety. A defensive pass interference on fourth down kept the sticks moving for the Wolverines. Then, McCarthy connected with Colston Loveland for a 13-yard gain on a crucial third and 11. Once again, Corum found the end zone on a one-yard touchdown:
Michigan career rush TDs:— RJ Young (@RJ_Young) November 18, 2023
1. Blake Corum — 51
2. Anthony Thomas — 49
3. Denard Robinson — 42
4. Mike Hart — 41
5. Tyrone Wheatley — 40
Tagovailoa got hot on the next possession, connecting on all eight attempts on the Terps’ next drive. He continued to take what the Michigan defense was giving him underneath all the way inside the Michigan one-yard line. After three goal-line stuffs, Maryland finally found pay dirt when 6-foot-4 quarterback Billy Edwards Jr. was tush-pushed in for six. Michigan maintained a 23-10 lead.
With leas than two minutes left in the half, Michigan pushed for another score before the break. McCarthy found Tyler Morris down the middle for a 26-yard gain, and eventually found themselves inside the Maryland 10-yard line. McCarthy then made two horrible plays in a row, scrambling right and forcing the ball into the end zone that should have been intercepted. Then, Maryland’s defense got the interception on the next play:
The game went into halftime with a 23-10 Michigan advantage as the Wolverines defense held Maryland to negative-seven rushing yards.
The Terps had the momentum taking the ball to start the second half. An ugly roughing the passer penalty against Mason Graham moved Maryland to the red zone. Inside the one-yard line, Maryland tush-pushed with Edwards Jr. for a second time to cut the lead to less than a touchdown.
Michigan’s offense came out, ran the ball three times, and punted it right back to a scorching hot Tagovailoa with the opportunity to take the lead. This time, senior defensive back Mike Sainristil stepped up and made a huge play, keeping Michigan on top and with the football.
Sherrone Moore opened up the playbook a little more after the turnover as McCarthy connected with three different receivers for first downs on the drive. The most important was a fourth-and-three conversion to Loveland. It set up a jet sweep to Semaj Morgan for a 13-yard touchdown.
Michigan decided to go for two but failed on an incomplete fade route to A.J. Barner. But a two-score game was maintained at 29-17.
The home team would just not go away on senior day. Tagovailoa hit Jeshaun Jones for 24 yards, and on the very next play, hit Kaden Prather for 33 yards and down to the one-yard line.
The play of the day, the tush-push, moved Edwards Jr. into the end zone for the third time as Maryland cut the lead to 29-24.
Entering the final quarter, Maryland had all the momentum. With Michigan on offense, the Terps brought a blitz on second down after right tackle Myles Hinton exited the game with an injury. McCarthy was sacked for the first time in the game, and it forced Michigan to punt.
Braiden McGregor and Graham got to Tagoailoa on a third-and-eight to get the ball back into the hands of the offense. A terrible Maryland punt would put Michigan at exactly midfield. They’d go for a shot to Cornelius Johnson, but it was just behind him and fell out of his hands. Two runs later, the punt team was on the field with about seven minutes remaining.
Once again Jesse Minter and this Michigan defense stepped up when they were needed. Kenneth Grant earned a tackle for loss and a sack on consecutive plays. On third-and-18, Sainristil came down with his second interception of the day and his fifth of the season:
Even in great field position, the offense failed to put this game away again. Trente Jones was called for a hold as McCarthy scrambled, and then he threw consecutive incompletions leading to a punt.
Tommy Doman came in and kicked the punt of his life, bouncing on the two-yard line and settling inside the one. Maryland needed 99 yards, and the Michigan pass rush continued to put pressure on Tagovailoa. This time, it ended in an intentional grounding call out of the end zone, resulting in the second safety of the game for the Michigan defense and gave the Wolverines a 31-24 lead.
Intentional grounding for a safety— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 18, 2023
Tough penalty for Maryland pic.twitter.com/Q05j5Ov98m
The Wolverines' offense couldn’t move the sticks with three run plays, forcing a fourth-down decision from the Maryland 38-yard line. Corum kept his legs moving and picked up the first down to ice the game.
Michigan escaped College Park with the win and move to 11-0 on the season. Sainristil put the game on his shoulders with his two interceptions, and the defense was the reason this team left with a win.
It sets up a huge game with Ohio State next week with a Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff spot on the line. Moore and the Wolverines will need to perform at a much higher level, especially offensively, to compete with the Buckeyes. Keep it locked at Maize n Brew as we prep for one of the biggest games of the decade.