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Inflection Point: Maryland 2018

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One drive changed the course, featuring everything you’d want to see in a Harbaugh offense.

Dustin Johnston

Michigan somehow trailed Maryland 7-3 early in the second quarter Saturday in front of a silent Big House crowd.

Despite outgaining the Terps 134-23 by the 14:27 mark of the second frame, Michigan allowed Ty Johnson to seize the lead with a 98-yard kickoff return for a score.

After a stop following a Shea Patterson interception, the Wolverines took over at their own 5-yard line. They proceeded to embark on an 11-play, 95-yard scoring drive that featured every desired attribute of this year’s Harbaugh offense:

  • The offensive line pushing the nation’s No. 18 rush defense back three yards each play.
  • Karan Higdon, and Owen Schmitt impersonator Ben Mason, refusing to shy from contact.
  • Accurate deep-ball from Patterson to Nico Collins for 51 yards.
  • All the time in the world for Patterson, including maligned left tackle Jon Runyan Jr. stoning former No. 3 overall recruit Byron Cowart.
  • Creativity with a reverse-turned-pass by Grant Perry, despite an NCAA 14 arm strength rating of 40.

This drive changed the course of the game for good. From this possession forward, Pep Hamilton’s unit outscored Matt Canada’s 39-14, won the yardage battle 330-197 and out-possessed the Terrapins by over 11 minutes.

Other note: Maryland averaged 2.75 sacks a contest before entering the Big House. The line ceded no sacks against Cowart, Jesse Aniebonam and company. Wisconsin will test the burgeoning ability of Ed Warinner’s line, but the results have improved drastically since Notre Dame.

The defense does deserve heaps of credit for holding this rushing attack — 258 yards a game entering Saturday — to 69 yards on 31 carries before garbage time. However, the defense simply continued its stellar play.

The offense, on the other hand, hit the necessary next gear to grind Maryland into turtle soup.