No. 4 Michigan improved to 8-0 on Saturday night after beating rival Michigan State 29-7. Here are the biggest takeaways from the game.
Second half adjusments prove crucial once again for Wolverines
Ever since Michigan’s win on the road against Iowa they’ve shown they’re a team that can get into the locker room at halftime and adjust from both a mental and schematic standpoint.
The game was 13-7 Michigan at halftime, but the second half was all Michigan, outscoring MSU 16-0. Michigan State had just 8 total yards in the third quarter and 63 yards in the second half. MSU rattled off eight first downs in the first half, but just three in the second half. The Spartans went zero-of-five on third down in the second half — see a trend here? Michigan dominated time of possession in the second half, maintaining control for 22:59 compared to just 6:55 for MSU.
Hats off to the Michigan players and certainly the Michigan coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter is able to buckle down and have his finest playcalling moments in the late stages. And the same can be said for co-offensive coordinators Sherrone Moore and Matt Weiss, who implemented bully ball to perfection and made it clear who the physically dominant team was.
The best teams in college football play their best after halftime, and this is a positive sign for the Wolverines.
Michigan still hasn’t been stopped on the ground this season
Blake Corum has been one of the best backs in college football this season and he’s very likely to be a Heisman finalist at the end of the year. Michigan’s offensive line has been great schematically and physically, and the word cohesion certainly comes to mind. After Michigan ran all over a top ten rushing defense in Penn State, they did the same against Sparty, totalling 276 yards. Corum rushed for 177 yards and one score, quarterback J.J. McCarthy rushed for 50, Donovan Edwards for 42. Michigan’s recipe down the stretch last season was to run it down the throats of opponents, and it’s been a similar strategy this season through their first eight games.
The score could have been more lopsided/Jake Moody is amazing
While Michigan won 29-7, this felt more like a 50-7 win over MSU. Michigan kicker Jake Moody was miraculous in this one, going five-for-five on field goal attempts. Moody won the Lou Groza Award last season, which goes to the best kicker in college football, and Moody has a very good chance to win it again in 2022. Moody would be the first player to win the award in consecutive seasons. Moody’s career at Michigan may be drawing to a close, but he’s a legitimate NFL prospect and we’ll be seeing him for years to come.
What happened after the game was absolutely disgusting
To be honest folks, it’s been hard to write about football in the aftermath of what should have been a big celebratory night for the Wolverines. Two Michigan players were assaulted by Michigan State in the tunnel following the game. Videos have surfaced of both incidents — one player it appears was hit with a helmet, another player was punched by multiple Michigan State players in what Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh called “ten-on-one”. The footage is shocking, sad, disturbing, and that type of behavior doesn’t have place in this rivalry on in civilized society.
The incidents are being investigated by the Big Ten as well as by University of Michigan Police. Criminal charges are warranted, expulsions are necessary, and we’ll see how things shake out. Football is an emotional game, but it’s a game, and should never lead to what happened postgame.
Hopefully this will make the Michigan team stronger in the days to come.