Michigan 35, Maryland 10

Michigan 35, Maryland 10

Submitted by Ace on November 11th, 2017 at 7:58 PM

[Paul Sherman/MGoBlog]

Jim Harbaugh must be so disappointed.

Once upon a time, when Maryland coach DJ Durkin was Harbaugh's young assistant at Stanford, the two locked horns in one of the most competitive games of one-on-one "basketball" on record.

"It took like an hour and a half, and it ended 4-3 or whatever," recalls former Stanford offensive tackle Ben Muth. "Neither of them would call a foul. Someone did in the first five minutes, the other guy made fun of him, so it was on from there.

"It was like that James Caan 'Rollerball' movie, basically a fight to the death."

Today, Durkin called for not one, but two Sad Field Goals on fourth-and-short situations with his team down 28-0. Henry Darnstadster connected from 20 yards on the second, most depressing attempt with 19 seconds left in the third quarter, ensuring Maryland wouldn't be shut out. James Franklin would be proud.

Given (1) Maryland's white flag, (2) an unfortunate series of hopefully minor injuries, and (3) the desire not to put anything on film for Wisconsin and Ohio State, Michigan went into a shell. The offense went run-run-pass or run-screen-run for most of the fourth quarter, resulting in some quick exits. The Terps put together a couple decent drives, even managing to score a touchdown on one. A certain segment of the fanbase found this quite alarming.

Then Chris Evans jumped over a guy, bulled through two tackles on his way to the end zone on the next play, and kicked the Terrapin corpse.

The game was already over, no matter what Glen Mason said. Michigan jumped all over Maryland from the start, establishing the duo of Karan Higdon and Chris Evans early. The two combined for 44 yards on Michigan's second drive before Henry Poggi, playing in his home state, plunged in from two yards for a 7-0 lead. After Brandon Peters broke the pocket and found Higdon for a 35-yard catch-and-run, Evans covered the remaining 16 yards on four rushes, diving in from a yard out to bring the margin to 14.

The defense held Maryland to 3.0 yards per play in the first half. [Sherman]

The Wolverines broke it wide open four plays later, stuffing Jacquille Veii on an ill-advised fake punt in Maryland territory, then striking on the next snap with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Peters to Zach Gentry. Josh Metellus gave the offense great field position once again with a remarkably casual blocked punt on the following Terrapin drive. After a 16-yard Higdon run to set up first-and-goal, Peters found Sean McKeon wide open on a waggle.

Michigan missed an opportunity to extend the blowout even further before the half. Maryland's best drive of the day got them into a goal-to-go situation, but on third down, fourth-string quarterback Ryan Brand—the latest injury replacement at QB for Maryland—panicked under heavy pressure from Rashan Gary and Josh Uche, throwing a duck that David Long plucked out of the air and ran all the way back to the Maryland 20. The offense went three-and-out; for the third straight game, Quinn Nordin missed a kick, this one from only 31 yards out.

Even so, Michigan held a 212-112 edge in yardage at halftime to go with a 28-0 lead. Peters was averaging ten yards per attempt even though Maryland got away with some very physical coverage early. The backs were plugging along at five yards a pop. The defense was the defense.

Evans' late hurdle and subsequent TD made the final score more fitting. [Sherman]

After stopping Maryland, Michigan went three-and-out on their opening drive of the second half. That'd be the last time this game had a whiff of competitiveness, as Durkin elected to try a 43-yard field goal on fourth-and-two with under eight minutes to play in the third quarter. To cut a four-score game to a four-score game. Some pity points for the home crowd. The kicker missed.

From there, little of actual note occurred. There was a successful Sad Field Goal. The Terps scored a touchdown. Evans responded on the next drive with his leap-and-score sequence. In an unfortunate way to prove why Harbaugh shelved most of the playbook in favor of clock-chewing, multiple Wolverines got dinged up; Higdon exited after the first half with a right ankle injury, Long had to put a brace on his left knee, Lavert Hill suffered a concussion, and Rashan Gary walked off favoring his arm. After the game, Harbaugh said "we'll see" about the status of those four players.

Peters kneeled the game out inside the Maryland ten.

The final stats show a Maryland advantage of 340-305 in total yardage. That's a hollow victory for the Terps in a game that got out of hand early and featured several short fields for Michigan—there were only so many available yards to gain in the first half. Don't be fooled: this was a blowout with nearly a full half of garbage time. Durkin certainly treated it that way.

Next week in Madison, Michigan can start emptying out the playbook.