Michigan Football moved to 8-0 on the season with a 32-23 victory in East Lansing over the rival Michigan State Spartans, their first in the series since 2012.
Here are some takeaways from today’s game:
Peppers may or not be a Heisman contender, but he is without the best versatile athlete in college football and he continued to show why in the rivalry contest. He had seven tackles (two for loss), a sack, five rushes for 24 yards, one reception and a touchdown in Saturday’s game. He also returned the fumbled 2-point conversion attempt for points for Michigan at the end of the game.
The game was never as close as the score indicated, but Peppers came away with the two biggest stops of the game on fourth down in crucial situations. He was also in at quarterback on a few plays that set him up as a decoy that worked out for the team.
Michigan fans had better relish him while he is here because he is likely playing on Sundays next season.
Jehu Chesson was the wide receiver everyone pointed to as the top threat on the Michigan offense, but Amara Darboh has emerged as that and had another big game on Saturday with eight catches for 165 yards.
Darboh is one of the most complete receivers in college football and his connection with Wilton Speight is starting to heat up as the season goes on, which is something we saw with Jake Rudock and Chesson last year.
Speight played his best game of the season last week and picked up where he left off early on in this game, but semed to cool down a bit in the second half, throwing an interception on the first drive of the third quarter and Michigan was quiet offensively from there on out. That is not all on him, but the team did seem to take the foot off the gas a bit.
Regardless, Speight has thrown only three picks through eight games and continues to show the poise and escapability that quarterbacks need to succeed at this level. He keeps plays alive and can be surgical with the ball at times. The questions still remain about how he will perform against elite teams, but those questions will be answered soon enough.
Jim Harbaugh said after the game that the progressions he has made reminds him a lot of what Rudock was able to do last year. If that is the case, Speight’s best football is still ahead of him.
Pedal off the medal
This was alluded to a bit earlier, but it did sort of feel like Michigan went a bit conservative after they went up 30-10. Michigan State deserves credit for playing what is easily their best effort in awhile, but the Wolverines let them hang around and it got a little close for comfort there at the end.
A win is a win, and the Wolverines sorely needed one in this rivalry. When you go on the road, sometimes it just has to be gutted out and get back home with a victory. They did just that today.
MSU self-inflicted wounds
The Spartans have had a nightmarish season that continued on Saturday with the team dropping its sixth game in a row. MSU had opportunities to make it a much closer game earlier on and who knows how that would have affected the outcome.
It was clear that Brian Lewerke was the team’s best option at quarterback coming into this game, but Tyler O’Connor got the start and was eventually replaced by Damion Terry. It was not until Lewerke got in the game that they were able to move the ball (outside of that first drive) and that is on Mark Dantonio and his coaching staff.
One would expect this program to bounce back next season, but there is no doubt that major changes are needed to their staff.
But that’s their problem. For now, Paul Bunyan is back home where he belongs at Schembechler Hall.
What were your takeaways from the game? Sound off in the comments below!