Michigan survived a scare from unranked Army on September 7th. They needed two overtimes to finish off a team that they were favored to beat by 22 points. Many fans, media personalities, and rivals alike have joined forces to put together the narrative that Michigan is overrated. All because they struggled with Army.
That’s nonsense, and here’s why
Army began the season unranked, but they were among several teams getting consideration. This team was no slouch, anyone pretending that to be the case is simply wrong.
Army was on a 10 game winning streak dating back to last season. Their last loss came at the hands of Oklahoma and Heisman winning QB Kyler Murray. Surely this must’ve been a massive blowout though, right? No way a team like that could ever struggle against Army. Yet they did. Oklahoma needed overtime to fend off Army, eventually winning the game 28-21.
Michigan won a game against a fringe top 25 team who was playing in by far their biggest game of the season excluding their rivalry game against Navy. This was a team who felt that they missed a huge opportunity to beat a top 10 team the year before and was determined to right the ship. This was absolutely their National Championship game, and they played like it.
Army is known for their gimmick offense that very rarely throws the ball. They feature a mobile QB, a power RB who fights for yards, and a few other APB’s to keep the defense guessing. Their goal is to limit the time of possession for their opponents, make few mistakes, and slowly move the ball up the field with their run game. This may ring true for many teams, but especially so for Army.
Kelvin Hopkins Jr., their QB, carried the ball 18 times for 41 yards. Their power RB, Connor Slomka carried the ball 29 times for 92 yards. Army totaled 61 carries for 200 yards which is only 3.3 YPC. Hardly effective. This isn’t to slight Army, they played hard, fought for those yards, and were able to punch it in twice in regulation.
Army played their hand almost perfectly, but Michigan was able to prevail because of superior talent across the board. Many had identified this as an early-season trap game, but Michigan didn’t get trapped.
Both of Army’s scores in regulation were set up by Michigan fumbles, something that was not an issue until very recently. Michigan lost 3 fumbles all of 2018 and has already lost 5 in 2019. I don’t expect this to be nearly as much as an issue going forward, if for no other reason than Shea Patterson getting healthy. Is it more reasonable to believe that a 4-year starter suddenly developed butterfingers or that his oblique injury suffered early in the first game contributed to him losing the ball more often? Prior to this season, Shea had 3 lost fumbles total through 3 seasons. He already has 3 through 2 games this season.
Shea Patterson jokes he’s been sleeping with a football in his arms every night. Says he has been working on ball security. Also says he’s fully healthy, recovered from oblique injury suffered on first play of season opener
— Orion Sang (@orion_sang) September 17, 2019
#11 Michigan will head to Madison to take on the #13 Wisconsin Badgers. With a bye week to prepare and get healthy, Michigan is looking to make a statement and prove the doubters wrong.