This is one of the better Mondays of the Jim Harbaugh era. Michigan came out and dominated Wisconsin despite some early mistakes and an inspired effort from Jonathan Taylor.
In the first leg of a three-step gauntlet, the Wolverines nearly tripled the Vegas spread, beating the Badgers in every way possible. Pep Hamilton had his best game as a Michigan coordinator and Don Brown quickly figured out Wisconsin’s offense.
This was awesome.
Michigan’s habit of shooting itself in the foot early made its weekly appearance as the Wolverines limped to a scoreless first quarter. The defense took a couple drives to get its footing and were bailed out by questionable play-calling from Wisconsin. Shea Patterson took a bad sack and Quinn Nordin missed two kicks in the first half.
The game turned in the second quarter even if the scoreboard failed to fully capture so. That read option look Michigan has teased all season got it’s first true set up, and boy did it pay off.
Patterson kept the ball and scampered left with a couple of blockers and an open field. Karan Higdon would eventually punch it in.
Michigan came back to the read option multiple times as the game progressed. Shea finished with over 100 yards when you remove sacks and scored a run to the right after keeping it on the read.
There aren’t enough words to capture how scary this defense looks right now. I think Wisconsin made a mistake turning away from Jonathan Taylor, but that shouldn’t take away from the effort Michigan’s D put in. David Long is an eraser, Lavert Hill and Brandon Watson are only slightly less terrible options to throw at. Josh Metellus has taken more steps forward than almost anyone else on the team, and the front seven is matched by few.
Michael Dwumfour, only a week removed from a scary looking injury, made his presence felt as the game went on. He provided solid run support and showed off his explosiveness on this pressure that led to a Devin Bush sack:
So it looks like Michael Dwumfour is ok.— Due# (@JDue51) October 14, 2018
Big 3rd down stop. pic.twitter.com/zBpxRPp0XO
Don Brown adjusted to Wisconsin’s early run success by turning to what he knows best — send the house and lean on your corners. Fortunately for Michigan, a great night from the secondary paired with a terrible night from Alex Hornibrook gave the Wolverines a near-historic night. Hornibrook failed to complete a pass in the second and third quarters, and that stat doesn’t even properly capture how bad they looked.
Special teams were somewhat shaky. DPJ had a nice return, but Nordin struggled. Even his makes looked ugly. At the end of the day, if a 3-for-5 game is going to be a “bad game” for your kicker, things could be A LOT worse. Hart looked human this week. He was solid, but it didn’t feel spectacular.
I’m so nervous for this week. The Spartans terrify me more than any other team. I was in the stands in 2015 and on campus last year for two of the more painful losses to the Spartans. Michigan State is coming off of its best game of the year — a defeat of Penn State that still has me baffled. MSU foolishly attempted a bad fake field goal that would have removed the need for late heroics to a large extent.
Brian Lewerke has been inconsistent this year, but his highs are up there with the best. Tradition states MSU legends are made with games against the Wolverines, so I’m sure I’ll regret that amount I’ve trashed him this year.
The Nittany Lions were able to expose some weaknesses in the Spartans run defense — weaknesses I fully expect the “new” Michigan offense to try and exploit themselves. The Kaepernick offense finally made it’s first true appearance and you know that’s got to give the Spartans some trouble. Michigan essentially has two unique playbooks it can throw at you now, and I imagine you’ll see a lot more of a hybrid style going forward.
Around the NCAA:
Alabama rolled, but Tua is hurt. Will it matter? Probably not, but LSU looms.
Geaux Tiguhs, and Florida had one of the more improbably covers of the weekend.
Penn State’s season ends once again early because of losses to the Spartans and Buckeyes. Speaking of which, OSU had an off game and still won by 16.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 14, 2018
FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER ... PULLMAN, WE'RE COMING TO YOUR CITY! pic.twitter.com/G7VToavDPG
NCState vs Clemson to decide the conference’s playoff hopes.
West Virginia falling to Iowa State hurts the conference’s chances, but Texas and Oklahoma still appear to be in decent shape. Can UT survive an injury to Ehlinger? Shane “TEXAS IS BACK, FOLKS” Buechele is a good back-up option.
UCF and USF survive atrocious performances, and Cincinatti remains hopeful. Ed Oliver is the best player in the country at Houston.
Dan’s Picks: (17-18: 1-4 last week)
Michigan @ Michigan State +6.5... I’m superstitious
Ohio State -12 @ Purdue
Penn State -13 @ Indiana
Oregon @ Washington State +1.5
Wake Forest @ Florida State -11