Michigan Football moved to 7-2 on the season when they defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Battle for the Little Brown Jug on Saturday night before a rainy and foggy night in Ann Arbor.
Here are the takeaways from the contest.
Run Game Strong Again
Michigan again had its run game going on Saturday night led by a pair of standout performances from Karan Higdon and Chris Evans, who finished the night with 200 and 191 yards rushing, respectively.
It is the latest outing in a run of games for the Wolverines that has seen the rushing attack develop into a true strength for the team. They would finish the night with 371 yards on the ground as a team after sack yardage was subtracted from the total.
Freshman Cesar Ruiz got the start for the Wolverines at right guard for Michael Onwenu and played very well, aside from a whiff that almost decapitated Brandon Peters. Michigan’s pass protection needs a lot of work, but it looks like they have developed nicely in grinding out yards for the running backs.
They tried some different combinations in the second half, but the starting group had a good night overall.
Not much from Peters
Peters had a relatively pedestrian night if one looks at the box score, but he was not asked to do a whole lot with the run game working as well as it did and that is okay.
Fans on social media wanted to see more out of him, but there was no reason to go away from something that was working with Higdon and Evans lighting it up on the ground. He was 3-for-3 for 32 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive and did what was asked of him according to the game plan.
Jim Harbaugh did say after the game that he wishes he would have kept him throwing more on the sidelines to keep him warm, which is something they will do next week at Maryland. If they are going to only pass about 15 times a game, it seems like a solid idea. A few of Peters’ throws were off later in the game.
Think of it like a pitcher sitting in the dugout for too long during a rally from his offense. Sometimes, the ol’ arm just gets cold.
Khaleke Hudson shines
Hudson played one of the best games we have seen out of a Michigan defender, as he was all over the field on Saturday night. He would finish the game with 13 total tackles, two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
One of the hot takes that came from yours truly before the season was that while Hudson is not the athlete that Jabrill Peppers is/was, he would be better at the Viper spot, and Saturday’s game certainly backs that up. Peppers rarely flashed the dominance that Hudson showed.
Josh Metellus was ejected from the game in what may have been the biggest travesty of the college football weekend. Minnesota tackle Donnell Greene threw three punches during a skirmish on the field and somehow Metellus was tossed with him.
Harbaugh was pissed about it after the game, though he bit his tongue on the situation. He said something along the lines of “there was no logic to that decision at all.”
Not to stir up any controversy, but this was also the same officiating crew from the “JT was short” game against Ohio State last season. Shoutout to 247’s Isaiah Hole for pointing that one out.
The Big Ten Picture and What’s Next
The top four teams in the Big Ten East all share a record of 7-2 in Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and the Wolverines. That has fans thinking that the Wolverines are back in the hunt for the division crown, which is mathematically true, but still unlikely.
This is not to be negative at all, but there is a laundry list of oddities that still need to occur for them to win the east. Drew Hallett breaks them all down here, so use that as your Bible the next few weeks.
One Final Point
A few weeks ago, if you followed my Twitter account or read any of the stuff here, I mentioned that it was disappointing and embarrassing that Michigan lost as badly as it did to Penn State and that it was in year three of the Jim Harbaugh era.
Thanks to the Buckeyes, Michigan no longer has the worst loss in the Big Ten this year.
Ohio State got smashed 55-24 at Iowa, which is absolutely baffling. Kinnick has some weird November magic, but that is an absolutely unacceptable loss for one of the nation’s top programs.
The lesson here is that everyone has a bad loss from time to time. Sooner or later, Michigan needs to be on the good end of one of those games. That does not excuse the fact they let one slip away against MSU that will haunt them or the PSU game, but at least Michigan is trending upward now.