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Monday Morning Quarterbrews: It’s about how you finish

Michigan roars back after digging itself an early hole.

Michigan v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s been an incredibly long weekend capped off with some personal stuff, so MMQB will be a bit shorter today.

I also drank myself to a stupor by the 4th quarter trying to cope with the pain. Stuff’s a bit blurry if ya know what I mean, but I think we can still put some things together. Michigan got a win it probably didn’t deserve, but hell of a gut-check from Shea Patterson and Karan Higdon.

The Game

I’ll start with Michigan’s starting backfield because, frankly, neither played particularly well — keep reading, don’t get angry yet. Both were missing their A-game. Patterson air-mailed a few throws and appeared to be rattled by early drops from literally everyone. Higdon struggled with explosion and broke about as many tackles on the day as I did. Everything was a grind.

HOWEVAH, the two of them absolutely battled and Michigan moved to 4-1 as a result. When I say “battle,” I’m making a comparison to a pitcher fighting through the middle innings despite not having his best stuff, or a basketball player figuring out ways to affect a game when his shot isn’t hitting.

That’s what Higdon and Patterson did, particularly in the fourth quarter against Northwestern. They put their heads down and found a way to win this game despite going “cold.”

Now you may say this game never should’ve been close, and you’d be right. Michigan’s 4th string running back and backup quarterback had 10 more and four fewer rushing yards respectively than Northwestern’s entire active roster going into Saturday. Early Michigan drives were lost to bad penalties and the aforementioned drops. The defense took 20 minutes to remember they had a game to play. The result: a 17-0 deficit.

The Wolverines battled back, started getting to Clayton Thorson, and the offense stopped throwing up on itself enough to punch it in the end zone a couple times to seal the win.

It’s not a win you’re proud of, but it’s one you’re damn-happy to get out of alive. Kwity Paye and Josh Uche should be the biggest guys on campus this week. They changed the momentum of this game.

Looking Ahead

Maryland has been one of the most polarizing teams in the country this season. Their disaster of an off-season continues to give weekly headlines, but the on-field product has been mostly solid. Sitting at 3-1, the Terps have looked wonderful against Texas, Bowling Green and Minnesota. They also lost by 21 to it’s been a weird year.

Michigan is going to see a lot of running looks this week, something I actually think benefits the Wolverines. Despite having a couple really capable quarterbacks, the Terps are clearly more comfortable with the ball on the ground. Michigan’s pass defense has been all over the map, though I’d like to believe the adjustments against NU — more 4-man rushes, cover 2, more cover 3 looks — are a sign of things to come.

If Maryland plays up to it’s ability, it can push Michigan in a similar way to this past weekend. If they come out flat, U-M could roll.

They really are one of the more Jekyll and Hyde teams in the country. This represents the final “tune-up” before Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State over a four-week span. The playbook has really begun to open up, though results have been mixed. It’ll be interesting to see what other wrinkles Harbaugh and co throw in this week.

Around the Country

Bama is Bama, Clemson survived their yearly rock fight with Syracuse, though the health of Trevor Lawrence is probably the most important on-field story in college football.

Ohio State won in Complicit Valley because James Franklin called a play on 4th down that would’ve tickled Michigan’s play callers.

Michigan State survived another mediocre showing, and Scott Frost’s start at Nebraska has entered dumpster fire mode.

Notre Dame had the second most impressive win of the weekend with a thorough handling of a really good Stanford team. After a few weeks of wobbling, we’re back on the #QualityLoss train. Herm returned home and the Devils are once again quite firm.

Down south, Oklahoma’s offense somehow looks even better than last year’s, LSU finally discovered the forward pass, and Kentucky with yet another really good win. Florida won the Mullen-bowl, and FSU beat a Power 5 team!

Dan’s Picks (13-12; 2-3 last week)

Texas vs Oklahoma -7.5

Northwestern @ Michigan State -9

LSU @ Florida +3

Louisiana-Monroe @ Ole Miss - 21

New Mexico +13.5 @ UNLV