For the Michigan Wolverines, the game didn’t get off to the start they envisioned.
For Wisconsin, the game began exactly as they wished it to.
The Badgers received the ball first, proceeding to go on a long and methodical touchdown drive that featured 12 plays, 8 of which were runs by running back Jonathon Taylor.
Although Michigan was down seven right out of the gate, their first play from scrimmage put them right back in the thick of things. Shea Patterson bought time and found Ronnie Bell for a 68 yard gain.
Immediately proceeding the long play came a timeout with the play clock dwindling down. The next play was a Patterson pass well over the head of Nico Collins in the end zone. And the third play from scrimmage is our first Week 3 Turning Point, a week that featured two in the first half.
2nd & Goal from the 7, Michigan still was in prime territory to net points and get momentum back on their side on the road in a hostile environment. However, there ended up being no points or momentum gained. In fact, what happened was quite a deflating way to begin a game on offense.
On the 2nd & Goal play, Michigan defensive lineman and former fullback, Ben Mason, carried the football. Mason carried it up the gut and netted a couple yards before fumbling the football.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh said that throughout the week Mason received reps at running back, and Mason was a battering ram at times as a fullback in 2018, but the result here was pretty much of the ‘worst case scenario’ variety.
The fumble by Mason marked the third consecutive game for Michigan in which their first possession on offense ended with a turnover. Football is a physical game, but it’s oh so mental, and starting the game off with turnovers on offense, especially deep in the red zone, can really make a unit feel down in the dumps.
The second turning point was an egregious reversal by the officials. A Ronnie Bell catch that would have been a sizable gain in a 7-0 gain was reversed and ruled an incompletion.
This was ruled incomplete pic.twitter.com/5kDeZv0lFN— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) September 21, 2019
FOX Sports officiating analyst Mike Pereira noted that if the play was initially ruled an incompletion he would have overturned it and called it a completion. It looks like Bell clearly has his hands under the football and any movement from the ball itself isn’t due to the ball contacting the ground. Let’s be clear, this didn’t cost Michigan the game, but it did change the complexion of the game at that moment in time and was a surprising reversal. Maybe Michigan scores on the possession, maybe they end up punting, we’ll never know, but it was a brutal decision by the officials at a time that Michigan needed something, anything to bounce their way.