Michigan won the Big Ten Championship Game 43-22 to seal their No. 2 spot in the College Football Playoff. It ended up being a great night for the Wolverines in Indianapolis. Although the game was close in the first half, Michigan pulled away convincingly in the second half once again.
Here are takeaways from the game.
Blake Corum done for the season stings, but Donovan Edwards is damn good
Michigan’s an elite team fortunate enough to have two elite running backs. Unfortunately Blake Corum had knee surgery this week and the next man up is Donovan Edwards. The sophomore RB was stellar against Ohio State, and was phenomenal once more against Purdue. Edwards delivered big runs in the second half and was ultimately the Big Ten Championship Player of the Game. Edwards rushed for 185 yards and one score. Edwards is a much needed difference maker and can help the Wolverines in the playoff. Michigan will need their rushing attack to continue to flourish and Edwards can get stuff done.
McCarthy made plays when he had to
It wasn’t J.J. McCarthy’s best day throwing the football as he made his third interception of the year and his worst of the three. However, McCarthy has a knack for making up for his mistakes. McCarthy hit Ronnie Bell for a 17-yard touchdown. McCarthy was 11-of-17 on the day for 161 yards with three touchdowns and the INT. McCarthy is now 12-0 as a starter this season and he’s a big piece to the puzzle even if Michigan is a ‘run-first’ offense.
Tip of the cap to Purdue’s offense and Aidan O’Connell
Aidan O’Connell ultimately made a couple interceptions that shifted momentum in Michigan’s favor, but he did a lot of great things throughout the day. O’Connell, who’s brother passed away last week, played admirably in this one and showed a lot of heart. O’Connell passed for 366 yards with no touchdowns and the two picks. O’Connell found Charlie Jones early and often. Jones had 13 receptions for 162 yards and appears destined to be an NFL player in the Cooper Kupp mold if he keeps ascending. Further, running back Devin Mockobee kept the chains churning and had 71 yards rushing and six receptions for 31 yards. The game was 14-13 Michigan at halftime, a testament to a gritty first half performance from Purdue on both sides of the ball, but especially their offense.
Will Johnson is on the cusp of greatness
Johnson was a big-time recruit for the Wolverines and as the season has progressed his snap count has increased and he’s played a pivotal role in the last two Michigan wins. Johnson went toe-to-toe with Ohio State star Marvin Harrison Jr. and held his own, and he did the same versus Purdue. Johnson hauled in two interceptions on the night and those turnovers are a big reason why the Wolverines won the game. Johnson has earned the trust of his teammates and the coaching staff and they’ll need him to pass-defend at a high level in the College Football Playoff.
It’s playoff time
Michigan has now won back-to-back Big Ten Championships. They’ve made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Life is good. But the Wolverines look to push beyond what they did a season ago. They want to win a playoff game, win a championship, and that won’t be easy. The team has been focused all year long and it turns out what they’ve said hasn’t been cliches, it’s been true and real. This is a football team that believes in one another and picks each other up when one entity of the team is down. Complementary football across the board.
Jim Harbaugh has carved the team in his image, and Harbaugh would say the team is carved in the image of the parents of these players. Both are equally true. It’s a partnership, a brotherhood, a family. This is the first time Michigan’s won 13 games in a season. It’s time to acknowledge that no matter what happens here forth that this 2022 Michigan team is a special one. Enjoy the moment while it’s here. Seasons like this are hard to come by. And they’re not finished yet.