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What we learned Week 8: Michigan is for real

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The Wolverines defeated their hated rival, Michigan State, 21-7 on Saturday.

Wisconsin v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

This past Saturday was one of the best for Michigan fans in the past decade. Not only did we get the sweet, sweet victory over the green uglies from East Lansing, winning 2 of the last 3 (yeah, I can make my own time narratives too), but the Buckeyes from Ohio were also killed by an unranked 3-3 Purdue team.

Now the Wolverines are in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten East. Nevertheless, we still learned a lot from this Michigan Wolverines team over the past week:

This defense is showing up in the big games.

This game was a totally dominated game by Michigan. The Spartans put up less than 100 yards of offense against this daunting Michigan defense. LJ Scott’s return to the field had no effect on the Michigan defense, as they allowed only rushing yards on 23 attempts.

In similar fashion to last week, Michigan forced one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten to have an atrocious football game. Brian Lewerke was 5-of-25 for only 66 passing yards and a 3.3 QBR. Last week, Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook had a similar game being 7-of-20 for just 100 yards and a 0.7 QBR. The Spartans couldn’t move an inch on Michigan’s defense on Saturday.

Who would have thought the Wolverines would beat two of the best teams on their schedule without Rashan Gary? Meanwhile, Josh Uche has been incredibly impressive on this defense in the absence of Gary. He has three sacks the last two weeks. This “next man up” mentality is something the Wolverines haven’t had over the past few years and is a large reason they are successful this season.

Look at the athleticism he has on this play:

The offense needs to be opened up

The first half of this game was incredibly difficult to watch. Frustration is an understatement in how I felt that half went. The Wolverines were up just 7-0 at the end of the first half after having several opportunities to take a bigger lead. Michigan was within 60 yards of the end zone to start the final five drives of the first half. Yet, credit to State’s defense, they held the Wolverines to no point in that span.

Harbaugh chose to go ultra conservative in this game and it almost cost the Wolverines. This game reminded me so much of the infamous 2015 game. Michigan led for the majority of the game before the play no one wants to talk about. In that game, Michigan State just continued to hang around with Michigan and that is exactly what happened this past Saturday. After the fumble by Chris Evans that led to the Spartans only score of the game, it seemed this one was going to have a similar tole.

Luckily Michigan’s offense decided to turn up the energy and scored on this 79 yard touchdown to Donovan Peoples-Jones:

DPJ called game striking the Paul Bunyan pose after that touchdown. That play was the difference-maker the Wolverines have missed over the past seasons. Michigan has been simply incapable of making a statement play like this in the past, and for the first half of this game for that matter.

I don’t care how bad the weather was; Michigan should have taken a deep shot earlier than the third quarter. When they finally did, it led to a touchdown.

This is what we need to see more of from the Wolverines. Patterson has the arm and the receivers to make big plays like this on a consistent basis in order to be successful against Ohio State at the end of the season.

I’m not saying they are going to the CFP, but...

Wouldn’t it be fun to see this defense up against an offensive power house like Alabama? Talk about an immovable object and an unstoppable force. By no means am I saying Michigan would be capable of slowing the Crimson Tide offense down, but think about it. This defense has allowed just 104 passing yards per game while Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has thrown for over 2,000 yards already this season while completing 70 percent of his passes. This would be a hell of game to watch statistically speaking. Maybe we will get an opportunity to see this, but Michigan has a long way to get there.

It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine

Just for good measure one more time.

For more quality and up-to-date information on the Michigan Wolverines, follow @MaizeNBrew and @DanPlocher on Twitter.