Michigan 45 TCU 51 – CFP Semifinal Game Recap

Time to head home


Final Score: 45-51, TCU by 6 over Michigan
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 9.3 (-15.3)
CD Projection: Michigan by 13 (-19)



If you had told me that JJ McCarthy’s stat line would be equal to or better than Max Duggan’s at the end of this game, I would have gladly signed myself up for that outcome. While Duggan was 14/29 for 225 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs, McCarthy finished 20/34 for 343 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs (both became lethal pick-sixes). Both QBs added to the rushing attack also, and both found the end zone.

However, we knew the Michigan rushing attack was what mattered most. After the first snap saw Donovan Edwards flash for 54 yards, the Wolverines were unable to punch it into the end zone. Michigan’s 39% Success Rate on run plays was on par with their OSU performance, but the explosiveness was not the same after the first snap. Averaging 4.9 yards per run play was a full yard short of their season average of 5.9 YPP. The frantic game pace, and playing from behind the entire night, also forced Michigan to rely on the pass much more than normal.

Defensively, Michigan surrendered more huge explosive plays in this game than any other. TCU created four plays greater than 30 yards (32, 46, 69, 76) and they got larger as the game progressed. No other game saw more than two such plays against the Wolverines’ defense, and only two of those previous plays came in the 2nd half (48-yard pass by PSU and a 44-yard pass by OSU).

While the secondary accomplished what I had hoped in coverage versus TCU’s talented outside WRs, it was brutal to see too many missed tackles in critical spots. Both the 69-yard run (eventually tackled at the 1 yard line) and the 76-yard touchdown pass in the second half had the potential to be stopped short.

The special teams were another strength throughout the season. While the kicking units were mostly reliable in this game, a 31-yard punt return allowed in the 4th quarter led to a TCU field goal. That one negative blip is counteracted by the career-long 59-yard field goal nailed by Jake Moody on the final snap of the first half. The kick set a Michigan record for longest field goal, as well as the Fiesta Bowl record. A fitting end to a legendary individual career for Moody.

In most of the traditional statistical categories, Michigan finished with a slight edge. But, this game came down to the high-leverage moments, as all close football games do. When all the chips were on the table, Max Duggan and the TCU Horned Frogs were able to answer the challenge. Michigan’s sloppiness down to down forced the Wolverines into a shootout that TCU was certainly more accustomed to. It was quite a feat for Michigan to continue to answer the bell from behind, and they repeatedly showed the heart of champions.

The 2022 season was absolutely another step forward for the Michigan football program. There is a bitter taste that comes with falling short of their National Championship goals, and it’s especially sour to play less than your best in the last game. But, with all that said, this team is one of the greatest Michigan teams of all-time. And, the foundation for optimism heading into 2023 is just as strong as it was heading into this year. Now, the work begins to prepare to take the final few steps to the pinnacle of the sport. Onward!

Michigan 43 Purdue 22 – B1G Championship Game Recap


Final Score: 43-22, Michigan by 21 over Purdue
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 24.3 (-3.3)
CD Projection: Michigan by 22 (-1)



I am stunned, from a metrics standpoint, that this felt like such a dominant performance. Purdue ran 83 plays (!), compared to just 56 for Michigan. Despite that imbalance in possession, every other metric above is green on the Wolverines’ side of the ledger. This was like the boa constrictor swallowing an ox: it sure looked awkward, but proved to be deadly nonetheless.

Offensively, the stats looked like another slow start for Michigan. More realistically, it’s reflective of Purdue getting the ball first. The teams each had a touchdown drive, each had a punt, and Purdue ended the first quarter on an 11-play field goal drive. By the time halftime arrived, Michigan had constructed two great touchdown drives on just 26 total plays. Once the staff made a couple small tweaks at halftime, the Wolverines’ 2nd half run game took over. Michigan piled up 180 rushing yards in the 2nd half, led by game MVP Donovan Edwards. Edwards finished with 185 yards and a touchdown. JJ McCarthy again made critical plays while the staff cleaned up the run game. McCarthy finished with 3 touchdown passes for the game, including a beautiful strike over the middle to Ronnie Bell in the 4th quarter. Michigan’s first touchdown was also an all-time highlight as freshman tight end Colston Loveland leaped up like an acrobat and high pointed the ball at the pylon.

Michigan’s defensive game plan was structured around mixing zone & man coverages to keep Purdue from hitting explosive touchdown plays. The plan seemed very similar to what Michigan created to contain the Buckeyes last week, just adapted for Purdue. The Wolverines conceded significant yardage, as QB Aidan O’Connell finished with 366 yards passing, and WR Charlie Jones racked up 162 yards receiving. But, after Purdue crossed the Michigan 40-yard line the Wolverines were able to clamp down. On the Boilers’ 7 scoring opportunities, they managed 1 touchdown, 5 field goals, and threw an interception to freshman CB Will Johnson (1 of 2 picks in the game for Johnson). During the pregame I mentioned I wanted to keep an eye on the Michigan linebackers. Junior Colson & Mike Barrett combined for 25 total tackles and a sack to lead the defense in the absence of edge rusher Mike Morris (leg injury).

It was a relatively light day for the special teams. Jake Moody handled his business on PATs, but his 1 field goal attempt was preempted by a Purdue offside penalty, and Michigan then converted on 4th & 1. Brad Robbins’ net punting yardage of 41.0 is his best day since game #6 at Indiana. The punt block unit narrowly missed a block once again. Michigan picked up a “running into the kicker” penalty on the play because the player’s hands missed the ball and contacted the punter’s leg instead.

Soak it in! Seasons like this may feel like the new standard (I hope so). But, stringing success together like this is rare for any program. Enjoy every moment you get with every other M fan you come across. And, remember to praise our players & coaches with honor & respect. ONWARD to the College Football Playoff!

Michigan 45 Ohio State 23 – Game 12 Recap


Final Score: 45-23, Michigan by 22 over Ohio State
SP+ Projection: Ohio State by 6.0 (+28)
CD Projection: Michigan by 3 (+19)


GAME 12 RECAP @ Ohio State

Offensively, this is by far the most explosive performance for Michigan that I have ever tracked (back to 2016), against ANY opponent. The Wolverines’ 2.20 IsoPPP (a metric that measures how explosive just the successful plays are) is 38% higher than the 2nd highest mark in the 2022 season. Michigan’s season-long success on the ground forced the Ohio State defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles, to sell out 100% against the run. JJ McCarthy and Cornelius Johnson kept Michigan afloat in the first half by exploiting that aggressive plan. Then, in the 2nd half, the offensive line and Donovan Edwards left no doubt about who is in control. Edwards streaked for a 75-yard touchdown and an 85-yard touchdown to send the Buckeye fans packing in the 4th quarter.

After Mike MacDonald left in the offseason, Jim Harbaugh reportedly asked candidates how they would plan to stop both the Buckeyes and the Spartans. Today we finally got to see how Jesse Minter answered that question, and why he was selected to be the D Coordinator. Ohio State’s top-ranked pass offense was contained to gathering meaningless yards in the middle of the field. When push came to shove, CJ Stroud and company could not find the end zone. The Buckeyes settled for a meager 3.2 points per trip into scoring position. Ryan Day was also timid on 4th down calls after getting stuffed on an early aggressive decision. Take a bow, Mr. Minter!

Brad Robbins returned to his normal form as he pushed his net punting average back up over 40 yards per kick in this game. That was still 6 yards behind his counterpart from Ohio, but glad to see Robbins back to his old self. Jake Moody converted a 1st quarter attempt as Michigan weathered the storm, but couldn’t quite muster enough juice for a 57-yarder in the 4th quarter.

So now The Rivalry flips in favor of the Maize & Blue. This 2022 version of The Game felt like the inverse of the 2019 version (56-27 OSU). In both cases, the better team won. Both game scores were somewhat close into the 2nd half, but really stretched out late. And, in both cases, the 2nd best team on the field is left wondering whether they can just tweak a few things, or if they need to undergo a major overhaul. ONWARD to the B1G Championship Game!

Michigan 19 Illinois 17 – Game 11 Recap



Final Score: 19-17, Michigan by 2 over Illinois
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 21.0 (-19)
CD Projection: Michigan by 24 (-22)


GAME 11 RECAP vs. Illinois

There is an interesting thing that happens when Michigan’s football team is good. The season gets into November, and all the fans can think about & talk about are the Buckeyes. Some folks have a serious reflexive reaction to this, as if two guys on a podcast looking ahead will impact the team on the field. Talking heads definitely don’t impact the game on the field! But, resting so many key players against a physically & mentally tough Illini squad was almost more than Michigan could handle.

Offensively, this is by far the least efficient Michigan has looked in 2022. The 31% success rate, and especially the 28% success rate in the run game, is not what we’re used to. But context matters, and this game saw two quarters of action from the top two running backs on the team. Losing your Heisman-candidate running back for the 2nd half was suboptimal. Starting backups along the offensive line was not ideal, either. But, finding a way to get the job done with your back against the wall is very valuable experience for this team. I want to finish with a huge shout out to Isaiah Gash for bouncing back after a tough drop in the 4th quarter to step up and make a catch to convert a critical 4th & 3 on the final drive. Hail! to Isaiah for bouncing back.

The defense for Michigan was without Mike Morris, but managed to stay relatively healthy going forward, from what I could tell. For the first time this season, the 3rd quarter belonged to the Wolverines’ opponent. Illinois outscored Michigan 14-3 in Q3, while gaining 132 total yards, compared to just 66 for U-M. But, just like their offensive teammates, the Michigan defenders stepped up in the biggest moments of the 4th quarter. Pressure from Taylor Upshaw & open-field tackling from DJ Turner combined for one 4th down stop. Also, Michael Barrett’s well-timed blitz forced a holding penalty on a big Illinois 3rd down play (where the Illini had set up a 4th & 1 for the game without the penalty).

For special teams, big props to Ronnie Bell for a huge 40 yard return to energize the Michigan comeback. And finally, what else is left to say about Jake MONEY Moody? He is the greatest kicker in Michigan history. Full stop. Now, ONWARD down to Columbus!

Michigan 29 Michigan State 7 – Game 8 Recap


Final Score: 29-7, Michigan by 22 over Michigan State
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 22.4 (-0.4)
CD Projection: Michigan by 28 (-6)


GAME 8 RECAP vs. Michigan State

How do you define a bitter rivalry? I will start with a 22-point victory that feels unsatisfying because there wasn’t enough ass-kicking. Then you can add a physical brawl in the tunnel after the game. Coaches are complaining about one tunnel. Maybe the young men IN the tunnel need to add some steel to their spine and take their L with some dignity.

Podcast- Michigan 29 Michigan State 7

The big stat for the offense is 60% success rate, with garbage time removed. Anything 45% or better is a pretty good showing. The Wolverines racked up 276 rushing yards with a 5.3 yards/carry average. The building concern is centered on red-zone touchdown conversion. I think that is a fair concern, but I would also like to see Michigan stretch the field vertically more often once they cross the 50 yard line.

The defensive staff is establishing a clear pattern of 2nd half dominance. After securing a 13-7 half time lead, the Wolverines came out and choked out the Spartans in the 3rd quarter, allowing just a 17% success rate. For three straight drives, MSU started on their own 25 yard line, advanced four yards, and punted on 4th & 6 from the 29 yard line.

The clear star of the game was Jake Moody. We have seen this before, and this guy earned his nickname: “Money”. Moody was 5-5 on FG attempts, and pounded four touchbacks and a fair catch on his kick offs. The Spartans had their own trouble with a punt snap, and the 3rd quarter SNAFU, followed by a 4 yard touchdown run by Blake Corum, proved to be the back breaker. Onward to New Jersey to battle the Rutgers Scarlet Knights!