It may not have gone exactly to plan, but Michigan (5-1, 3-1 Big Ten) did what it had to do, beating up on Maryland, 42-21.
After a weather delay and more rain threatening, the ground games figured to feature prominently, but it was Michigan’s passing attack, led by a spry Shea Patterson, that really broke things open.
With five minutes left Patterson already had recorded his best game as a Wolverine, 19-for-27 for 282 yards with three touchdowns and one interception that wasn’t his fault. His previous high in yardage was 227 against SMU.
The Wolverine defense continues to dominate. Before Tyrell Pigrome’s very late touchdown drive, Michigan had only surrendered 142 yards, much of that coming on one drive. One of Maryland’s touchdowns came on special teams, a kickoff returned for a touchdown. Plus, Michigan’s D scored some points in the form of Brandon Watson’s late pick-six.
Even though Patterson featured, Karan Higdon did what he does–25 carries for 103 yards, a 4.1 average. Tru Wilson chipped in five carries for 32 yards, a 6.4-yard average.
The loss of Dwumfour makes the D-line thin, and the competition will get stiffer, but at least for now, Michigan is showing it’s ready to tackle better opponents. One of those opponents, Michigan State, is looking like a much more winnable game, after the Spartans went down at home to Northwestern.
Despite outgaining Maryland by more than 100 yards in the first quarter, Michigan found itself trailing, 7-3.
Ben Mason hurdled a defender on Michigan’s first possession, getting fans (and Twitter) on their feet, but on Michigan’s second possession, he couldn’t convert a 4th and one in Maryland territory.
Quin Nordin nailed a 34-yarder with about a minute left in the first, but Ty Johnson took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.
On Michigan’s next possession, a Shea Patterson pass bounced off Zach Gentry’s hands and into Darnell Savage’s, leaving Michigan fans shifting uneasily in their seats after 15 minutes.
Michigan started the second quarter taking control with an 11-play, 95-yard drive that included Patterson finding Collins on a 51-yard bomb to put Michigan into Maryland territory. A little trickery ensued with Grant Perry getting pitched the ball on a jet sweep and then finding McKeon for a 15-yard gain. Ben Mason handled cleanup duties from one yard to put the Wolverines back in the lead, 10-7.
Things got concerning for Michigan fans with about seven minutes left in the quarter when defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour went down with an apparent lower-body injury. Michigan Stadium fell quiet before he was carted off the field.
Michigan’s second drive of the second quarter ended in a touchdown, a 22-yard strike to freshman Ronnie Bell, but did leave a little room for frustration. Before the touchdown, Gentry made a bad cut on a tight end screen, Patterson missed Peoples-Jones for what may have been a touchdown, and Patterson hit Peoples-Jones for what would have been a touchdown if not for Peoples-Jones being an inch out of bounds.
All told, the Wolverines dominated the second quarter, going into half up, 17-7. The Wolverines dominated the second quarter, leading in time of possession (11:12 to 3:48), 1st downs (6-2), and yards (132-21).
A particularly unfortunate scene unfolded with 5:14 left in the quarter. Patterson hit Higdon on a short pass and on Higdon’s ensuing touchdown scamper Peoples-Jones was flagged for a block in the back just before being inexplicably lit up by a Maryland defender. Touchdown wiped out–No. 1 wide receiver shaken up. Maryland’s Tre Watson was ejected for targeting as a result of the hit.
Peoples-Jones would have his revenge. Just a few plays later, Patterson scrambled back and to his right, reversed field to his left (Devin Gardner would have been proud), and found Peoples-Jones who picked his way into the end zone, making the score 27-7.
After Maryland’s first sustained drive of the game, Javon Leake scored on a jet sweep from one yard out, making the score 27-14.
Michigan methodically moved down the field on the ensuing drive. Patterson found Wangler for a five-yard touchdown pass after a 28-yard run by Tru Wilson. With about seven minutes left, the Wolverines led 35-14.
Brandon Watson added a 46-yard pick-six in garbage time, padding Michigan’s lead, 42-14.
Maryland would add another score very late. After inserting Tyrell Pigrome, the Maryland signal caller jetted through the line of scrimmage for a 42-yard run and finished off the drive two plays later to make it 42-21.