The Michigan Wolverines (7-2) defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-5) in Michigan Stadium.
Commanded by a rushing attack that eclipsed any run game that a Jim Harbaugh-coached?Michigan team has fielded, the Wolverines kept The Little Brown Jug in Ann Arbor. Despite an hour delay to kickoff due to weather, the fans packed The Big House for the second trophy game of the season and the final home night game.
Here’s a quick summary of how the Wolverines beat up the Gophers on Saturday night.
— Michigan Athletics (@UMichAthletics) November 5, 2017
For the first time, Michigan fans got to see redshirt freshman QB Brandon Peters starting under center. Peters finished 8-of-13 for 56 yards with a touchdown, and his best throw was called back on a penalty.
Peters did not disappoint in limited attempts, but the running game was by far the most impressive thing for the Wolverines.
Karan Higdon and Chris Evans were both outstanding backs. Running the ball isn’t tough when your offensive line can control the line of scrimmage in the run game. The two backs combined for 391 rushing yards — Higdon with 200, Evans with 191 — and four touchdowns. The duo was the focal point of Michigan’s most explosive offensive effort since the opener against Florida.
For a team that has had a problem turning the ball over, Michigan didn’t have any against a Minnesota team that has 17 takeaways this season.
Freshman TE Sean McKeon, whose performance is often a barometer of Michigan’s performance as a whole, was the leading receiver. He had 3 receptions for 30 yards and a TD.
Michigan’s offense looked good as a whole, but Peters was never really tested because they ran the ball so effectively.
Some perspective: Michigan ran the ball 37 times, as opposed to just 13 pass attempts. Between Evans & Higdon, there were 29 rushing attempts – over two times the amount that Peters passed the ball.
Offensive Players of the Game
Chris Evans and Karan Higdon are the offensive players of the game. Evans exploded for 191 yards rushing on 13 carries with 2 touchdowns. Higdon had an even better game with 200 yards on 16 carries, also adding 2 touchdowns.
The two running backs did it all on Saturday night. They were rarely touched before 5 yards, made guys miss, and had huge gains multiple times – both averaging over 12 yards a carry.
Michigan defeats Minnesota in the 96th meeting for the Little Brown Jug.
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) November 5, 2017
Coming into the game Saturday night, Minnesota had only given up 8 sacks. Michigan’s defense had 5 sacks in this game, Hudson leading the team with 2.
The defense held Minnesota QB Demry Croft to 5-of-12 passing for 74 yards, a good chunk of that coming in garbage time.
The defense came out a bit shaky in the early stages, then defensive coordinator Don Brown went to work. The defensive backs didn’t have much work to do. They played well in press, and Michigan’s pass rush did the rest. Minnesota had no chance once Brown made his adjustments.
Michigan sacked Croft 5 times, over 50-percent more than he had been all season. What’s most impressive is Michigan’s 13 tackles for loss, its highest total in the category of the season.
Defensive Player of the Game
Khaleke Hudson was unstoppable and your sole defensive player of the game.
The guy simply couldn’t be blocked.
He finished the game with 13 Total tackles, 11 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. Khaleke was everywhere. You see a blur on your TV that made a tackle behind the line? That was Hudson.
Michael Spath pointed out a great statistic.
Khaleke Hudson has 6.5 tackles for loss. He's in elite company. pic.twitter.com/SEzRfuDd7v
— Michael Spath (@MichaelSpathITH) November 5, 2017
Michigan did not beat themselves. They played turnover-free football, and didn’t have any dumb penalties to stop drives – something that’s hindered them consistently this season.
The coordinators didn’t get away from their identity. They ran the ball, ran the ball, and ran the ball. And it worked. I don’t think it would have been a big problem against a questionable Golden Gopher secondary, but Peters was not asked to do much because he didn’t have to.
Cesar Ruiz held his own. Seeing Mike Onwenu in street clothes before the game made many fans nervous. Cesar Ruiz was more than ready to step into that right guard spot, despite missing a big block that led to Peters taking a lick. Despite that, the true freshman held his own and then some.
The defense was what it’s been all season, sans Penn State. It looked like the national championship caliber defense that fans expected. The first couple of possessions, the defense was fooled by misdirections and shifts – much like the Purdue game. Brown seemed to make quick adjustments, and the defense started blowing up the option plays, holding the Gophers to under 100 yards in the second half.
Michigan’s season isn’t going as planned, but at 7-2, it has the same record as Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State. The Wolverines face off with Maryland next week, who lost to Rutgers … so … see ya then?