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Jim Harbaugh praises Wolverines’ huge second-half turnaround

A sudden change in momentum was all it took to make this game a blowout.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Any Michigan fans that spent halftime of the Wolverines’ 52-17 victory over Rutgers in silence shouldn’t feel too bad — a similar energy was felt in the locker room itself per head coach Jim Harbaugh.

“Really good, really proud of our guys,” Harbaugh said. “They had the momentum, Rutgers had the momentum coming off the field in the first half and our guys were real quiet at halftime. It was get our minds right and go out there for the second half, and our guys didn’t flinch. It was fun to be a part of.”

Even with the benefit of hindsight, it’d be fair to say things weren’t looking all that up as the second quarter came to an end. Missed field goals, blocked punts, and other mistakes made for a white knuckler of a game that no-one was expecting. Michigan trailed Rutgers 17-14 at halftime.

It didn’t take long for that tension to dissipate, however. Following a touchdown pass from J.J. McCarthy to Donovan Edwards, the Scarlet Knights ran just two plays before coughing up an interception Michael Barrett, setting up a second touchdown via Blake Corum.

The situation quickly went from bad to catastrophic for Rutgers, as Barrett once again picked off quarterback Gavin Wimsatt on the first play of the next Scarlet Knights drive, this time for six. All told, the Wolverines needed just over a minute and a half of game clock to swing a 14-17 deficit to a 35-17 lead.

“We got hit on some of those deep balls, and it’s just a matter of getting better at seeing the ball in the air,” Harbaugh said. “If they throw a deep ball, let’s get our eyes on it and have some fun and pick it off. Coach Clink was coaching that and Will Johnson did a great job. Mike Barrett, what a game he had. Just a tremendous place, in the right place at the right time.

“It took tremendous team defense, nine drives in the second half, they defended nine drives and to only give up one first down. Pretty special, and to score three touchdowns in a minute and twenty seconds, heck of a job. Great job. Good team effort all the way around”

Second-half adjustments have become the name of the game for Michigan as they make their way through the Big Ten schedule. Including Saturday, the Wolverines are an almost unfathomable 131-31 in the second half of their first six Big Ten games.