For five weeks, the question surrounding Michigan’s string of dominant wins has been whether it can do it against top opposition.
On Saturday night, the Wolverines answered that question with a resounding yes in a 38-13 demolition of Wisconsin.
Michigan opened the scoring with a Karan Higdon rushing touchdown after an electric 81-yard run from quarterback Shea Patterson on a read option on the first play of the second quarter.
The Wolverines allowed their first touchdown of the game in the following quarter as Jonathan Taylor picked up 38 yards on three plays before receiver Kendric Pryor used his speed to take an end around 33 yards to the house.
For the rest of the night, the only thing the Badgers repeated from that drive was a lack of passing success, as quarterback Alex Hornibrook went just 4-for-16 with two interceptions from that point on.
Michigan’s next drive stalled out at the Wisconsin 24, forcing a Quinn Nordin field goal. It may have been frustrating for Wolverines fans at the time but that field goal was almost all Michigan would need for the rest of the night, as its defense held the Badgers to just seven points after that point.
It was nearly all the Wolverines needed but it was far from all they got. The next two drives continued the offense’s theme of frustration in Wisconsin territory. It had to settle for a field goal after Josh Metellus took an interception to the 15 and then missed a 54-yard field goal at the first half buzzer after a big sack.
There was nothing frustrating for Michigan in a second half that was among the most dominant of the Harbaugh era.
The Wolverines caught a few lucky breaks on the first drive of the half, notably with a rare roughing the snapper penalty that elongated the drive on a punt that would have given the Badgers the ball back down by less than a possession. That gave Michigan the opportunity it needed to score its second touchdown of the game — on another Patterson read-option — and begin to blow the game open.
After a pair of stagnant Wisconsin drives with no completions from Hornibrook, the Wolverines tore the roof off Michigan Stadium with ten points on four plays thanks to a field goal and interception return for a touchdown from cornerback Lavert Hill.
The Wolverines put the final wrapping on their most impressive performance of the season with a 44 yard touchdown run from Dylan McCaffrey, finishing the game just the way they started it — with an explosive quarterback carry.
A garbage time touchdown drive from the Badgers put the final score at a dominant 38-13, certifying everything Michigan appeared to show in its five straight wins over sub-par opposition.