Another Michigan win means more game balls to hand out. After the first quarter it looked like no one may be getting a game ball this week, but things changed drastically for the Wolverines, overcoming a 17-point deficit en route to a 20-17 win over Northwestern.
It’s time to pass out some game balls.
Michigan Game Balls Versus Northwestern
Offense- (TIE) QB Shea Patterson & RB Karan Higdon
I cannot possibly give a game ball to one and not the other this week. If Michigan doesn’t have the effort of one of these player’s in the game against NW, they don’t win.
Patterson’s stat-line isn’t flashy, going 15-of-24 for 196 yards and rushing for 31. Patterson made the plays necessary as the game unfolded to get Michigan points, and the lead. In the midst of an afternoon where he let some throws sail, he also made a few throws as fine as any quarterback can make, especially on the drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run by Karan Higdon. Two throws to Zach Gentry on that drive were gutsy and beautiful.
And then Patterson made multiple key first downs using his legs, be it on a scramble or a read-option look. It was a gritty performance, it wasn’t pretty, but it was clutch.
The thunder to Patterson’s lightning on the afternoon was Higdon, who rushed for 115 yards and 2 TD’s. These weren’t easy yards for Higdon, he earned every last one, and for most of his 30 carries he had to use brute force to churn out positive gains.
Defense- DE Chase Winovich
Winovich is a mad-man, he’s crazy on the football field. He’s also one of the best interviews a reporter could ever ask for, but on the gridiron he’s as viscous as they come. His tenacity was on full display for Michigan when they were down, and his temperament and leadership (along with defensive adjustments) really turned the tide, flipped the script and got Michigan’s D rolling the last three quarters of action.
As each week passes, Winovich continues to boost his draft stock. Against Northwestern, Winovich recorded 9 tackles (8 solo) and 1 sack. Winovich pressured QB Clayton Thorson all day long and although Chase didn’t have multiple sacks, the havoc he caused in the backfield really changed the course of this game.
Special Teams- K Quinn Nordin
Punter Will Hart was a beast yet again, averaging 51 yards on his punts, but the game ball on special teams has to go to Quinn Nordin.
Nordin made both of his field goal attempts (23 and 24 yards) and both of his extra point attempts. If Nordin misses a couple of these, this could have been a different outcome.
Kickers are important, too.