Previously 1-6 against primary rivals, Jim Harbaugh got a big win today in East Lansing to move to 2-0 against MSU in East Lansing since taking over the job as Michigan’s head coach. It was by no means pretty, but Michigan has proven that they are real; and they are here to challenge for the B1G title.
This was a game that, on paper, Michigan would win easily. In the minds of Michigan fans, this was a game that they were prime to lose.
Today, Michigan got the monkey off of their back. The revenge tour is in full swing as Michigan heads into a bye week before its showdown with Penn State on November 3rd. Back to back wins against Wisconsin and MSU should have Michigan fans optimistic.
A Tale of Two Offenses
The win today was not perfect by any means. Patterson had a couple of opportunities to hit open receivers, including an open DPJ in the end zone, but was put under pressure and forced to run. He played too conservatively at times, but he also avoided making any turnovers today. He finished the day 14/25 with 212 yards and 2 TD’s.
Shea now has 12 TD’s and just 3 INT’s on the season. He has been as advertised in Ann Arbor.
Perhaps the biggest revelation of the day was Karan Higdon’s ability to gash the MSU run defense for 144 yards. MSU were previously the top-ranked run defense in the nation, holding opponents to under 70 yards per game.
For how good Patterson and Higdon were, Brian Lewerke was awful. He finished the day 5/25 for just 66 yards. MSU was held to just 94 yards on the day, 301 less than Michigan managed to rack up. That was with LJ Scott in the backfield for the Spartans.
Michigan Defense Stands Tall
Michigan’s defense was a force to be reckoned with all day. Despite poor penalties, the Michigan defense did not break. If it were not for a Chris Evans fumble deep inside of Michigan territory that led to an MSU score, Michigan likely pitches a shutout today.
An unfortunate injury to MSU’s top play maker Felton Davis left an already depleted MSU offense searching for answers where there were none.
Davis tore his Achilles and will be out for the remainder for the year. We wish him the best in his recovery.
The Michigan secondary was fantastic all day in coverage, helping MSU to an 0% third down conversion rate with 12 attempts. It was truly a fantastic day all around.
Special Teams Key
Special teams were key for Michigan today in the victory. For as many times as the conservative Michigan offense stalled, the defense found themselves in great position as Will Hart consistently pit Michigan State inside their own 20 to start drives. He may not play defense, but he sure as hell helped keep MSU’s back against the wall all game. There’s a reason that MSU didn’t score on a single drive that started after a Michigan punt.
Quinn Nordin on the other hand found more inaccuracy issues today as he missed his one field goal opportunity. It was never close to being a good attempt. He redeemed himself later in the game by converting an extra point after a dropped snap. Nordin had to stop mid kick but was able to reset and put the ball through the uprights. A small victory for Michigan’s embattled kicker.
What to Think
Michigan has won two ugly games on the road this season. They came back from being down 17-0 at Northwestern, and they won a gritty and ugly game today in East Lansing that featured some bad weather. Those are situations Michigan loses in before this year. The narrative that Michigan cannot win big games, or tough games, is over.
Now that Paul Bunyan is home, Michigan will be favored in every game up until the showdown in Columbus. If Michigan wins out, they will find themselves competing for a B1G East crown, a shot at the B1G title, and a CFP playoff birth. Everything is ahead of them, just as it should be.
Now, Michigan finally has its road win against a ranked opponent, and it came against their in-state rival.
I don’t want to hear a single thing about Harbaugh not being the right man to lead Michigan back to the promised land. He is the man for the job. He’s had bad breaks, but the tide seems to have turned.
Michigan is for real, and they are proving it. It may all come down to the last game in Columbus. If that’s the case, just win, baby.