Karan Higdon staredown
Do not try to pull the ball from this man [Patrick Barron]

Michigan 38, Wisconsin 13 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 14th, 2018 at 1:14 AM

In a battle featuring the cream of the crop from America’s Dairyland, it was only right that the victory went to the team with the Cheeseman. 

Wisconsin won the coin toss, chose to receive—one of many coaching choices that will be tried in the court of public opinion and inside team meeting rooms—and squandered their first drive, marching 21 yards down the field before having to punt. This put Michigan, already up 13-7 at halftime, in great position to put a stranglehold on the game should they score on the first drive of the third quarter. A defensive holding call on Wisconsin corner Rachad Wildgoose on a 3rd-and-5 deep ball to Nico Collins kept Michigan’s drive alive. Three plays later, Wisconsin safety Reggie Pearson took the form of a human missile, launching his body into Karan Higdon and popping the ball loose; the fumble was recovered by Michigan, but 3rd-and-1 was now 4th-and-6 from Michigan’s 44-yard line. With Michigan forced to punt, it appeared Wisconsin had neutralized their acrid decision-making. Then someone ran into Cam Cheeseman.

The roughing the snapper call moved the ball from Michigan’s 44-yard line to Wisconsin’s 41 and gave Michigan a fresh set of downs, with which they ran and ran and ran and ran again, until Shea Patterson kept on a zone read, arced to his right around the wad of blue and white jerseys, and leapt through an ankle tackle before flipping across the goal line. Michigan led 21-7 after Patterson rifled a pass to Nico Collins in the back of the end zone. Wisconsin gambled over and over and it backfired spectacularly.

There were other coaching flubs that benefited Michigan, including allowing Michigan to run down the clock at the end of the second quarter to ensure a Michigan field goal opportunity with no chance to get the ball back. Then there was the inexplicable decision to forgo easy yards and try to pass on third-and-short, only handing off to Jonathan Taylor on one of Wisconsin’s six third downs with three or less yards to go.

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[Bryan Fuller]

Reputation notwithstanding, it was Michigan’s offensive line caving the opposition all night, and though Wisconsin’s linebackers were often in the right place, Michigan’s playcalls made them wrong often enough to carve out 320 rushing yards.Shea Patterson ripped off an 81-yard run to open the second quarter and finished with nine carries for 90 non-sack-adjusted yards, and Karan Higdon had 19 yards for 105 yards. Michigan’s quarterback run game was good as it’s been in years, with Dylan McCaffrey toting the ball once on a zone read for 44 yards and a touchdown and Joe Milton—who seems to have taken over the third-string spot—rushing twice for 22 yards.

Wisconsin’s vaunted run game looked as advertised, with Jonathan Taylor carrying 17 times for 101 yards and the unit rushing for an average of 7.2 sack-adjusted yards. Taylor’s longest run of the day was a 23-yard scamper where he downshifted, waited for a miniscule lane to open, then jetted through that to the sideline before eventually being shoved out by Josh Metellus. Wisconsin scored on the next play, a jet-sweep handoff that Kendric Pryor turned up the west sideline.

Alex Hornibrook was the primary participant from there; things went poorly. Michigan’s pass rush continued to turn pockets into the Death Star trash compactor despite the continued absence of Rashan Gary. Michael Dwumfour, just a week removed from being carted off the field, flashed his Hurstian upside. Chase Winovich did Chase Winovich things, including bulling a tackle so far back he would have sacked Hornibrook for Winovich if Josh Uche hadn’t come in for his big-plays-only guest appearance and already taken Hornibrook down. Carlo Kemp also showed promising signs, holding his own against Wisconsin’s all-everything offensive line and occasionally generating pressure from the interior; he flung a lineman four yards back, shoved another away with one arm, and forced Hornibrook into a throw that closely resembled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook on 3rd-and-2 early in the fourth quarter.

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[Eric Upchurch]

Said throw went about six yards before it was plucked out of the air by Lavert Hill and promptly taken the other way for a touchdown, putting Michigan up 31-7 and effectively ending the game (until Paul Chryst tried to get back into it with a touchdown drive and onside kick with three minutes to go after punting mere minutes before which…yeah). Michigan’s corners were in lockstep with Wisconsin’s receivers, whose inability to create separation put five PBUs on the stat sheet for Michigan. David Long had two of those, including one where he leapt out of the proverbial gym and tipped a ball that Josh Metellus intercepted. Michigan’s corners were suffocating, and the safeties were excellent in run support and not tested much through the air. Wisconsin passed for 25 yards in the whole game if you subtract the 75 crazy yards the picked up on one garbage time drive, with 63 coming on two throws. Hornibrook threw 20 times. It was a long day for Wisconsin’s offense.

With 444 total yards, Michigan’s offense produced statistics that meshed well with the eye test. They are continuing to evolve, with stretch and actual zone reads pairing with Down G and inside zone to form an offense that forces defenders to cover every gap. The defense is playing as well as they have since Don Brown arrived, and with Dwumfour and Solomon back, they just need Gary to suit up to be back at full strength. The first third of the triathlon has been successfully completed. Now it’s time to sink or swim.

Comments

Diagonal Blue

October 14th, 2018 at 9:45 AM ^

Yea I thought he missed some holes in the first half and on that 3rd and 1 at the beginning of the 2nd half where he was running to the sideline and fumbled when all he had to do was cut up field almost gave me a mini stroke, but he settled in nicely and started making some nice cuts. JBB was moving people man.

stephenrjking

October 14th, 2018 at 1:22 AM ^

That PF on the punt was huuuuuge. 

Michigan honestly had a lot of things that should have been better. But they took that one opportunity, stepped on the throat of the opponent, and put them away. It's easier at home, it's easier with a break of a call, it's easier when the opposing coach refuses to run his best plays. 

But a good team takes that stuff and dunks it in the face of the opponent. And Michigan just dunked in Wisconsin's face in prime time. 

Nice. 

ohio

October 14th, 2018 at 2:10 AM ^

Very fortunate but at least they capitalized on it. They had left points on the field with the2 Nordin misses. And Wisconsin did nothing with the ball subsequently anyway. Great win, and not surprising given what we've seen in recent weeks. Now can we clamp down on Felton Davis? Probably not but we'll fare better than most I presume.

L'Carpetron Do…

October 14th, 2018 at 12:37 PM ^

Yes - Michigan outplayed Wisconsin but it wasn't a totally dominant performance (until the end at least). It was nice they got the benefit of the weird long snapper call that extended a drive.  They also lucked out that Shea's fumble was recovered by McKeown and Hidgon's fumble went out of bounds.  For once those bounces went Michigan's way. Otherwise this was close to the most perfect game Michigan has played this year. 

schreibee

October 14th, 2018 at 2:17 PM ^

Not only was it NOT a "weird" PF for bulling thru the long snapper, one of the worst plays in Michigan history would have been reversed if it been properly called on msu in '15.

As Fowler I believe pointed out on the telecast. 

In fact it seemed like Fowler was doing his best to counteract Herbie's creeping ennui as M rolled it up. Herbie sounded like a friend had died doing something stupid after Lavert's pick-6!

He just kept rolling the replay & saying "he threw it late! There was so much daylight in front of the receiver if he just lets it go right there!" 😃😄😂🤣

Indy Pete - Go Blue

October 14th, 2018 at 1:25 AM ^

This type of win is next level stuff for this program. In 2016, we scraped by for some big wins and lost the close ones. This year’s team is getting stronger in the 2nd half in every single game (including Notre Dame and northwestern where we dominated the 2nd half).  It looks like Herbert’s program and the strength difference may be a tangible 4th quarter phenomenon. And the Warinner effect has appropriately received nearly universal acceptance. 

It is a great time to be a Michigan fan. Congrats to Coach Harbaugh and his incredible staff and his outstanding players on a gigantic win on the national stage. 

GarMoe

October 14th, 2018 at 2:59 AM ^

The closeups on the players’ smiles and laughter during that last series of Funtivities cycling thru McCaffrey and Milton and topping it with the V formation was a joy to behold.   This was a definite turning point in the season.  Halfway thru and no one ahead of us feels unbeatable.  Hell even OSU struggled to get started against Minny and still didn’t put up the numbers we did vs Wiscy.

WolverineHistorian

October 14th, 2018 at 1:30 AM ^

Started feeling slightly better once Higdon got off those runs in the 3rd quarter.  

Pure jubilation on the Lavert Hill pick six.  

McCaffery's touchdown was the cherry on top.  

The big house crowd sounded AMAZING on TV.  Kudos to the fans!

Ray

October 14th, 2018 at 2:33 PM ^

I was there. 

I've been to upward of a hundred Michigan games, going back to Michigan/Wiscy in 1977. The atmosphere was electric. 

That my daughter graduated from Michigan and my son is now in grad school at Wisconsin (may have to change my avatar--at least from time to time) elevated the experience, for sure. 

But it was spectacular and so memorable. 

Perkis-Size Me

October 14th, 2018 at 7:19 AM ^

Overconfidence against Sparty. That’s exactly what they want you to do, and exactly the kind of environment they thrive in. Where everyone doubts them. Look at what they did yesterday, on the road against a team that everyone expected to not just beat them, but destroy them.

Michigan may be the better team, but make no mistake: next Saturday is going to be a war. Especially now that MSU has pretty much everything to play for again.

BlueTimesTwo

October 14th, 2018 at 10:05 AM ^

They play a godawful brand of football that makes the game super ugly and gives them a chance to win.  They are like the New Jersey Devils when they ran the neutral zone trap.  Kudos to them for taking advantage of those opportunities, but it also relies upon passive officiating and makes for a terrible viewing experience.

Also, with regard to luck, they had a ton of fumbles that bounced right back to them, a game-ending interception that PSU dropped, a phantom defensive holding call that led to their second touchdown, and PSU players that slipped on the field at key moments.  I would say that is pretty lucky.

Ghost of Fritz…

October 14th, 2018 at 10:58 AM ^

It is both.  MSU absolutely had some luck yesterday. 

But it is also true that Dantonio gets the most out of whatever he has (which right now is a very limited offense and a lot of injuries) and, thereby, had his team close enough late in the game where they could take advantage of some luck (and classic Franklin game management).

Still not sure how the Penn State guy failed to intercept that ball late, however. 

 

 

 

 

Carpetbagger

October 14th, 2018 at 11:09 AM ^

Yeah, I have no idea why people aren't willing to give Dantonio his due. Respecting opponents doesn't hurt, honest. You can make an argument he is the best coach in the BIG, given the talent disparaties.

I hope we thrash them like Wisconsin. We should beat them easily. I have zero belief next week will be anything but a dogfight until I see it with my own eyes.

Mi Sooner

October 14th, 2018 at 1:37 AM ^

If yer using a triathlon as your example, we survived the swim leg and are now heading to cycling leg.  We are hoping to not get a flat on this leg...

rc90

October 14th, 2018 at 7:13 AM ^

The oline looked good. Not just decent, not adequate, not acceptable, yadda yadda yadda. They looked good. I'm not technically savvy enough to know exactly what they're doing different, but the blocking is an obvious upgrade on my little 24" TV. Keep doing that, and the QBs and the RBs will be fine.

rc90

October 14th, 2018 at 7:13 AM ^

The oline looked good. Not just decent, not adequate, not acceptable, yadda yadda yadda. They looked good. I'm not technically savvy enough to know exactly what they're doing different, but the blocking is an obvious upgrade on my little 24" TV. Keep doing that, and the QBs and the RBs will be fine.

Erik_in_Dayton

October 14th, 2018 at 1:39 AM ^

This was fun for a lot of reasons. I think I said, “Holy shit!” to my cat when Hill finished his pick six.

But what made me the happiest was Michigan finding its running game in the second half and pushing Wisconsin around some. I did not expect that after the first half performance. When was the last time Michigan flourished on the ground like that against a good team in the second half? I honestly can’t remember.