04/18/2021 – Michigan vs. MSU – The National Championship Comparison

It’s been a while since I updated the UM/MSU National Championship Comparison.  Since Michigan just won another national championship (the 57th team championship in school history), this time in Women’s Gymnastics on Saturday (04/17/2021), it’s time to update the count since 1989:

National Championships Since 1989
Basketball (Men’s)19892000Even
Cross Country (Women’s)2014MSU
Field Hockey2001UM
Gymnastics (Men’s)1999, 2010, 2013, 2014UM+4
Gymnastics (Women’s)2021UM
Hockey1996, 19982007UM
Swimming & Diving (Men’s)1995, 2013UM+2

Just for comparison, MSU has won a total of 27 national championships in school history, 30 less than UM.



M v OSU IS A GAME SOME CALL THE GREATEST RIVALRY IN SPORTS:  This premise is widely accepted as fact in the sports world, and is often spouted by media as a colorful descriptor of the event. It is always accepted as boilerplate by the partisans supporting either side of the contest, and may irritate some opposing factions.

There are many reasons the game continues to be remarkably notable. Both OSU and M have huge contingents of the most dedicated and hard-edged fans in the college football world.   Both consistently fill huge stadiums, and both have often, from the distant past to date, been the cream of the crop in the Big Ten, and in competition for the Big Ten Championship.  This game used to be for all the marbles, but now it is now only the gate to the Big Ten Championship game.  Most of its luster is still there.

Many times the Big Ten Championship, and some good things beyond that, spring from winning “The Game” for both sides.  That was certainly true again this year, and many times the season has been ruined for one side or the other, by the loss of that last game, as was Michigan’s fate for this 2018 game.

With Saturday’s loss to the Buckeyes, the Wolverines Big Ten Championship dreams slammed to earth like a punctured blimp.

BO AND WOODY: Not a little of the aura of this game stems from two unique, and highly talented Coaches on both sides of the ball during the 10-years war.  Both were quirky, driven, highly determined, and sometimes quick tempered. This uniquely talented pair were highly familiar with each other, as M’s Bo Schembechler was for a time an Assistant at OSU.

Too say that OSU’s Woody Wilson Hayes, was an engaged adversary is understatement. He would not stop in Michigan while riding back to the anointed land in the Ohio Valley, despite needing gas. It would be fun to say that he ran out, but he stretched past the border on fumes.  Mention Michigan and he, too, was automatically fuming.  He referred to Michigan to as that school up north.

The “War” started in 1969, when Bo took over the Wolverines. He thumped Woody 24-12. Woody’s  response afterwards was along the line of Damn you, Bo! you will never have a bigger win.  Right on, Woody!  It was true. Just drop Bo from the statement, and the same sentiment applies to Meyers right now.

Nothing irked Bo more than the selection of OSU over M to perform in the 1973 Rose Bowl.  A 10-10 tie against OSU resulted in the injury of M QB Dennis Franklin.  On this basis, the Big Ten Athletic Directors selected the Buckeyes.

To say Bo, his team, and fans were disappointed is gross understatement.  To say that they were outraged is closer to reality. Ohio spent New Year’s Day in Pasadena, and the Wolverines stayed home.

It seems Coach Hayes could not control his enthusiasm at times.  Whacking an opposing player during a bowl game cost him his Head Coaching job.

The most fun I have ever had at an OSU game was watching Woody destroy the yard markers as he energized the M crowd in Michigan Stadium in 1971.  An official’s call of an interception during a home game at Michigan Stadium, created an episode of Woody v the Yard Markers. It was a splendidly outrageous rage that destroyed the markers, and turned on the crowd’s after burners. Subsequently, M RB Billy Taylor sprinted into the end zone to secure the win.  I miss Woody.  It was more fun to beat Woody than anyone else at least until now. Now Urban is my favorite victim, but until today he has hit us for six in a row.

OSU had beat us 13 of the last 14 before Saturday. Michigan went into the game 10-1 overall this season and 8-0 in the Big Ten.  Ohio State was 10-1 overall this season and 7-1 in the Big Ten. If this game is to stay a great game, the Wolverines are going have provide better competition last Saturday.  The Wolverines have lost of the last 14 of 15 to the Buckzillas, and 7 straight to Meyers.

SATURDAY’S GAME BELONGS WITH THE REST OF THE GREAT ONES, BUT SADLY ONLY FOR THE BUCKEYES:  The Wolverines were thoroughly nailed by the Buckeyes in Columbus again, and the Bucks have again earned the right to challenge for another Big Ten championship at Indianapolis, this time facing Northwestern.  This week I will be a Northwestern fan.

Michigan went into the game 10-1 overall this season and 8-0 in the Big Ten.  Ohio State was 10-1 overall this season and 7-1 in the Big Ten. You know the result.

The Wolverines are now 10-2 and OSU is 11-1

Technically, the Wolverines tied OSU for the East Division Championship, but the spoils  mostly belong to the Buckeyes.

They play on for the whole Big Ten enchilada, and they earned this one.  They were the better team on the field without question.

BRIEF GAME COMMENTARY: The Buckeyes dominated the whole affair as they continued to hurry the Wolverines Quarterbacks, and managed to put Shea Patterson out of commission late in the game.  The Buckeyes had 318-yards passing, and 249 passing for a total of 567-yards of total offense. The Wolverines had 240-yards passing and 161 yards rushing for a total of 401-yards.

The habit of running Karan Higdon on first down was predictable, and usually stuffed. Later in the game, he gained a chunk of yardage.  Karan had 15 carries for 72-yards, and a long of 24-yards. Chris Evans went 8 carries for 33-yards rushing, and caught a TD pass. Tru Wilson rushed 7 times for 32-yards.  He was effective on a drive late in the game. Mason had a one-yard TD.

While sometimes the receivers such as Nico Collins were sharp, there were drops.  Most notable was a Zach Gentry drop of a sure TD that appeared catchable.  Unfortunately, it appeared that Zach might have been concussed on an incompletion hit that drew an unsportsmanlike penalty.   Donovan Peoples Jones grabbed 7 for 64-yards, and is always a receiving asset. Nico Collins collared 4 for 91-yards and two TDs.  He was the best receiver on the day for the Wolverines.  Chris Evans caught 3 for 35 yards and a TD.  Black, Martin and Higdon all had a reception.  Black caught the first M catch of the day.  The defense had trouble containing the OSU offense as the stats confirm.  Without doubt it was their worst game of the season.

In a way the Wolverines are a one trick pony on offense and defense.  To pass they must run.  On defense they are not as expert at zone as man defense. Shea was often hurried, and the run was often stopped.  The vaunted Don Brown half time adjustments did not stem the tide.

Karan Higdon had 15 attempts for 72-yards.  Many of those attempts were stuffed on first down.

It appears that defensively the Wolverines are susceptible to being spread out.  As Indiana showed the week before, and OSU last year, crossing patterns were difficult to stop.  The blitzes often did not get to the mark. Buckeyes QB, Dwayne Haskens was magnificent. He was 19 of 30 for 318-yards, and 5 TDs.  The Wolverines had 4 TFLs, no sacks.

Shea Patterson hit 20 of 34 for 184-yards, and 3 TDs, as he tried to evade a relentless and successful pass rush.  The hot rush also the caused M QB Joe Milton to throw another later.  Milton also got a rushing TD.  Branson Peters was in for a series and got a red zone completion. The offense went 5 of 10 in the red zone.

Both interceptions by OSU ended up inside the M 25-yard line.  A blocked punt returned for a TD aided the Buckeye dominance.  Inexcusable.  They later also missed on their onside kick effort, and a couple of two-point extra point conversions.

Tyree lead the defense with 8 solo tackles,  and 4 TFLs.  Josh Ross had 7 solos, and 5 TFLs. Bush, Winovich, Gary, Metellus and Kemp had several tackles, and there were others with one, but the unit had no sacks.

This loss was unfortunately a full team effort, and that includes coaching, up to and including, Coach Harbaugh. They team fell apart in the 4th quarter, and that is sad.

HOW THEY SCORED: OSU received the KO and went to work. M-0, OSU-7.

Michigan controlled over 12 minutes of the first quarter, but only came away with a pair of field goals by M’s Moody (31 and 39-yards) to make it 6-7, All did not seem lost.  M-6, OSU-7

OSU answered with a drive that included  a 27-yard crossing pattern, and which culminated in a deep pass into the end zone of 24-yards.  M-6, OSU-14.

They hit again with an 8-play, 79-yard drive which featured a 33-yard screen pass for the score.  M-6, OSU-21.

The Wolverines conducted an 8-play,70-yard drive featuring a Shea Patterson 15-yard draw, and a 23-TD  catch by Nico Collins.  M-13, OSU 21.

Then good fortune struck for the Wolverines.  OSU’s McCall fumbled the KO at the OSU 9, and it was recovered by M’s Nate Schoenle.  At 00: 54 on the Second Quarter clock, Chris Evans caught a 9-yard TD. The attempted two- point conversion failed.  The score was M-19, OSU 21.

With 00:41 left in the first half, and assisted by PI penalties, the Bucks moved to the Wolverine 1-yard line with a 7-play 74-yard drive. M held, and the Bucks settled for a 19-yard FG before the clock hit 00:00.

M-19, OSU-24 was not bad news as the Wolverines were a second half team.  I assume many thought this true at the time, as it was true, but it just wasn’t to be.

The combatants traded punches as the third quarter began but the Bucks managed 17 points in the quarter to zip for the Wolverines, and that proved the turning point in the game.

In 5:15 minutes of the Third Quarter, the Buckeyes won the game with 17 points, which the Wolverines couldn’t fully answer, and in the fourth it became a turkey shoot for the Buckeyes.  Both Devin Bush, and Rashan Gary were injured in the Quarter.

In the third, a Wolverines’ special team failure resulted in a blocked punt, which was run in from 33-yards out for an OSU TD. Prior to that OSU hit  a 19-yard FG, pushing the score to M-19, OSU-34.

OSU wasn’t done.  Shea Patterson was hurried into an interception, which the Bucks collared at the M-26, and in two plays put it into the end zone.  The long play, of course, was a twenty-yard crossing pass reception. M-19, OSU-41.

M was at the OSU 12, when the Third Quarter ended. It won’t be fondly remembered by Wolverine fans.

M turned that drive which  began in the Third Quarter, into an 8 play, 75-yard TD.  Nico Collins caught a 12-yard pass at the flag which was called a TD, reviewed and upon review upheld.  Very outstanding play by Nico. M-25, OSU-48.

Next came a long and busy 86-yard drive that resulted in an M TD. This drive was notable for a 24-yard Higdon burst, the injury of M’s QB Shea Patterson on a five-yard run, and an earlier 11-yard crossing pattern to Donovan Peoples-Jones.  Brandon Peters threw M RB Chris Evans an 8-yard pass that was to the one.  A review confirmed no TD. Ben Mason bulled over left tackle for the score.  M-32, OSU-48.

OSU answered with a 6 play, 75-yard drive aided by an M face mask call. M-32, OSU-55.

Joe Milton was the M QB at 6:02 of the fourth quarter, and he tossed and interception at the M 25 yard line, and it was returned to the M 4. A Buckeye unsportsman like penalty put back to the M- 19, setting up the final OSU score of the game. It took three plays for a score of M-32, OSU-62.

Joe Milton wasn’t through.  He hit Nico Collins for 43 yards, on  a six-play, 75-yard drive.  Milton ran it in over left end from the 4-yard line for six to make the final score. M-39, OSU-62.

TAKEAWAY:  Whenever it is a great day for the buckeyes in the Horseshoe, it a nasty one or the Wolverines, and Saturday was a gigantic case in point.

Obviously, it was the most disappointing football performance by the Wolverines this season.  It was also the most unexpected.  Who thout beforehand that this great run  would fail to grow to the extent that it did.

The scheme for the defense and offense didn’t work, interceptions were thrown, coverages blown, the OL leaked so much it seemed they need a plumber.  Many of the great attributes gathered by this team over their highly successful season were not on the field Saturday.  They were scrapped off the plate by a great OSU performance, while the Wolverines struggled. This was not a loss that a bad call or one good play engineered.  The Buckeyes owned the day.

They will again be Wolverine proud, and recover their acumen and pride, if they can get up off the ground and win the good New Years Bowl game that is theirs. Now we will see what this team is really made of.

This group needs to heal mentally and physically after this tough loss.  Injuries were a problem. Devin Bush hurt a hip, Grant Perry had a hip pointer,  David long a hip strain.  All three will be back soon according to a reliable source. Zach Gentry had a concussion.  Some injuries were previously mentioned.   Hopefully most will be back for the bowl game.  Injuries were not the reason for the loss, but didn’t help.

While this last game of the regular season was a debacle, the games between the first and last games, are still laudable, and remarkable.

And of course, its always great to be a Wolverine.  Would you rather be a Spartan, a Buckeye, a Scarlet Knight?  Of course not!  But don’t anyone tell me to Buck Up.

Go Blue!


The Indiana Hoosiers slid into Ann Arbor Saturday desperate for another Big Ten win.  They played a tough and desperate game.

The Hoosiers were 5-5 on the season, and they were 2-5 in the Big Ten.  Far below their expectations when the season started. Now they desperately sought 6 wins to get a Bowl bid.

What a splash they could bring to an otherwise dismal season, if they could only lay a loss on the Wolverines on M’s own turf.

Saturday that was easier said than done, as the Wolverines were reaching for their eighth straight Big Ten win.  M needed to remove the last barrier to a shot at the Buckeyes that they had been looking forward to all season, and since they met last year.

THERE WAS MORE AT STAKE FOR THE WOLVERINES THAN FOR THE HOOSIERS THIS YEAR: After 7 Big Ten games, the Wolverines were at the top of the Big Ten heap.  Numero Uno. It was hard to get there, and it is harder to stay there.

The overall series with Indiana was in the Wolverines’ favor 59-7.  Interesting but not an indicator of victory.  Each game, each year is new and original. It is part of why Indiana v Michigan Big Ten college football has drawn significant crowds to stadiums, and to the TV set annually, after Michigan’s 22 prior wins (now 23), and after the game being repeated annually 67 times.

The fact that the Wolverines had defeated Indiana more than anyone else in the conference also made no difference.  The Wolverines last loss was a 14-10 setback in Bloomington in 1987, and the last loss at home to the Hoosiers was in 1967. Recently, games with the Hoosiers have been close.

Last year M won, but had to eke out a win in the first overtime. Two years before that it was another overtime win for the Blue.  All of the above gave this one, all the characteristics of a “trap” game

In other words, lately Indiana has possessed prolific offenses, and have made it a game. Prior efforts are not  predictors. Both offense and defense had to be on track and they were enough to defeat an energized, and tough Indiana effort.

THAT THE WOLVERINES AS A TEAM ARE DOING WELL THIS SEASON was verified by 8 Big Ten wins, their position in National Rankings, and playoff-rankings, and is verified by this victory Saturday.

What verifies it most is being undefeated in the Big Ten, with their last game still facing them, the big one against the Buckeyes of Ohio State to whom they owe so much, and so much would like to repay.

The Wolverines did not do anything today to smudge season accomplishments  and future opportunities to this point, while taking a workman like giant step forward.

THE OFFENSE:  The offense moved the ball, aggregated 507-yards total, but settled for six field goals.  As unlikely as it would have seemed before-hand, the main responsible for thirty Michigan points in this fray was Freshman Kicker Jake Moody, the Kick Off specialist. The usual kicker, Quinn Nordin was ill according to Coach Harbaugh post game.

In a very poised manner, Moody hit six times from 32, 30. 31,33, 23 and 31-yards.

Here is what an appreciative Shea Patterson said in the post-game press conference after the game, “This guy was a sniper.  He did a hell of a job…to have a freshman come out and kick like this was amazing. We couldn’t finish some (drives), but him just getting in there and finishing for us as great to see.”  Coach Harbaugh afterwards said he was poised, that he never changed expression.

He set a Michigan and other records with this performance.

I am discounting any criticism, and there is some criticism, that these were just shorties or chip shots. His KOs prove he has the leg for the long hits.  He, and the snap and holding players, were up to the task of facilitating a victory, and an undefeated shot at the last obstacle to the Big Ten Title game, and the team and fans are grateful.

Shea Patterson threw his first interception in a while, but what a game he had otherwise.  He threw a little wide to Gentry in the end zone.  That pass could have been caught,  but was low and behind.  He is still the best QB the Wolverines have had in a couple of whiles.

Saturday he was 16 of 23 for 250-yards. His long pass was for 42-yards. He ran for 68-yards on 9 attempts, and averaged 7.6 per carry.

Karan Higdon was the workhorse on the ground again, hitting for 104-yards on 21 carries. Chris Evan got 44-yards on 10 carries, and Tru Wilson had 42-yards on 6.

The receivers were active with the most notable being Zach Gentry who nabbed 2 for 83-yards, Nick Eubanks had 1 for 41, and a TD, Nico Collins 3 for 32 and Ronnie Bell 1 for 31-yards. Six other receivers caught passes.

Six drives stalled and that is a problem.  While they won, they left a lot of points on the field.  They found a way to cope, but they will need all possible points them next week, and beyond.  Still it is difficult to throw a fit when they accumulated total 507-yards of offense.

The defense faced a hurry-up offense that spreads the field and has usually caused the D some hiccups.  The were held to 257-yard rushing, and 195 passing for a total of 385-yards.

Not up to the defense’s statistical standard, but hey, who won?

The top three tacklers were: Devin Bush (8 solo tackles, 3 assists, 11 total, 1 TFL), Tyree Kinnel (6 solo, 3 assists, 9 total, .5 TFL), and Rashan Gary (same as Kinnel, but with 1.5 TFLs and a sack).  It was critical Gary was on hand for this tilt. He played and lead well.

As described above, much of the special teams were all Moody.

HOW THEY SCORED: Indiana owned the first quarter with 7 first downs to Michigan’s 3, out gained the Wolverines 104 to 75-yards, and scored a TD to M’s FG.

Indiana won the toss and deferred.  It looked like the Wolverines were on their way to 6, but the 61-yard, 10-play drive stalled at the Hoosier 14, and then things got Moody.  He hit a 32-yard FG, and it was M-3, I-0.  A Wolverine incompletion from a QB hurry had stalled the drive.

Indiana answered with a TD after 6 plays and 82-yards. Runs hurt, including a 13-yard TD run. M-3, I-7.

The Wolverines had a better grip on the second quarter, with 25 first downs to the Hoosier’s 17.

M’s Moody hit two FGs, one from 30-yards and another from 31.  The first was the result of an 8 play 47-yard drive, fueled by a 31-yard Ronnie Bell reception.  The next Wolverine FG was the result of a 6 play 65-yard drive.  Both stalled because of incomplete passes.  M-9, I-7.

The Hoosier’s answered with a 41-yard FG. M-9, I-10.

The Wolverines finally got a TD. A 6-play, 65-yard Indiana drive culminated in a 41-yard yard TD pass to TE Nick Eubanks, who was all alone in the end zone.  The two point extra point attempt failed. M-15, I-10.

Indiana scored again on a 9 play 75-yard drive.  Most of the damage was don e on a 41-yard completion. M-15, I-17.

The Wolverine earned 276-yards to Indiana’s 249 in the 1st half, but were still 2 points down.

The second half KO was to Indiana, but the Wolverines held and captured the ball. Shea hit People-Jones for 16-yards.  Collins for 13. Evans rushed for 7, DPJ snagged a 14-yard pass. Karan ran for 5 a first down at the Hoosier 5.  An Indiana PI penalty put it at the 2, and Karan hammered it in for a Wolverines’ TD. M-22, I-17.

Jake hit another FG, this time from 33-yards out.  M-25, I-17 to close the Third Quarter.

The score was still uncomfortably close to start the Fourth Quarter. The Wolverines won the third quarter, but on a cold day the heat was still on.

At 14.48, Karan ran for 4 to start a drive.  Some short runs got 5, but the drive stalled.  Jake Moody was called to the rescue and answered with a FG from 23-yards out and it was M-28. I-17. It still wasn’t over.

The Hoosiers immediately answered with a 29- yard FG after a 10 play, 56-yard drive. M-28, I-20.

The Wolverines then started their last scoring drive of the day. A series of short runs before the drive stalled got it to the Indiana 29, and Jake Moody hit another one for 29-yards. With 2:27 left the game was finally bagged with a final score of 31-20.

TAKE AWAY:  This was a hard game physically for the Wolverines the week before what is always a tough outing at the home of the Buckeyes.  There were multiple injuries.  The status of Aubrey Solomon is one question remaining.  There were numerous other nicks, and bruises but many of the players so effected came back to the field.

The largest unknown is the status of Chase Winovich who left the field and according to Coach Harbaugh underwent x-rays and a cat scan to diagnose an unidentified injury. Winovich has been an engine of destruction and perhaps the biggest impact player on Michigan’s vaunted defense this season. His loss would be huge as Michigan heads to Columbus and beyond.

Wolverine Berkley Edwards was also grievously and unnecessarily smashed on a special-teams play.  It appeared to me that he was hit on the chin with a helmet.  That is what an on-field observer said, too.  The result was a concussion that was verified in hospital.  While he left the field immobilized on a stretcher, and strapped to a cart, and later hospitalized, the after-game commentary was not dire. He could move and speak.  The result could have been worse.  We’ll stay tuned to this one.  Devin Bush lined up late in the game,  and went down,  but returned and played.  He was interviewed after the game and showed no ill effects from a bad cramp.

The targeting  hit on Berkley Edwards was as mean and stupid as I have seen all season.  If not on purpose, very thoughtless.  Coach Harbaugh was concerned about Edward’s injury but not vindictive regarding the perpetrator and LB Devin Bush said it was just football, and that sometimes emotions flare.  It a tough game.

It was a hard- earned win on a day that was cold for the temperature, was won by an unlikely special teams performance, and had a perplexing official’s call at the end of the first half.  Coach Harbaugh said afterwards that as the official attempted to place the ball near the goal line with seconds remaining.  It fell to the ground, and was kicked by a Hoosier.  The official said that the kick  was not on purpose, but accidental.  Harbaugh was amazed that was a judgment call, but no rage, no further comment.  From some fan’s standpoint, however, it was “We was robbed”.  At the end of the first half that call made a game difference.

That’s not important now.

Finally, it’s the Buckeyes.

Go Blue!


The 5th ranked Michigan Wolverines traveled to Piscataway, New Jersey to take on the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University last Saturday.  The Wolverines were a 39.5 favorite.  Rutgers had not won a Big Ten game in six attempts.  The Wolverines had captured 6 straight Big Ten Wins.

Rutgers has not enjoyed a good football season this year under Head Coach Chris Ash, and obviously, the Scarlet Knights aren’t riding high currently, but they believe they are improving.  They have some talented personnel on offense, and special teams.

They proved this by tying the score 7-7 in the first quarter with an 80-yard scamper from scrimmage much to the distress and surprise of both the Wolverines and their fans.

While a group of Wolverines was in close pursuit, they could not catch the speedy Scarlet Knight.  It was a beautiful serpentine run by Rutgers’ Isaih Pacheco for six.

He was in the end zone before the Wolverines caught him but he had the company of several Wolverines as they tackled him in the end zone, including Chase Winovich.  This was the biggest mistake the Wolverines defense made all evening, and they did not make it again.  The same play was stuffed a couple of times later.

The Wolverines do not have a long history against the Scarlet Knights, but have now bested the them four out of their five encounters.

They have only played since Rutgers was admitted to the B1G in 2014.  The one M loss is still celebrated in New Brunswick (campus location), and at Piscataway (stadium location). It was their first Big Ten win after entry into the conference, and a nasty blow to M fans at the time of its occurrence.

That 24-26 loss had an Appalachian State quality about it.  It is not a surprise that it is still celebrated at Rutgers.  Understandable, as anybody would forget a 78-zip loss, and remember their first Big Ten win instead.

THE FIRST COLLEGIATE FOOTBALL GAME WAS AT NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY-Rutgers v Princeton. The sesquicentennial of that 6 to 4 Rutgers victory will occur next year on November 6, 2019.  Wonder how many spectators attended that first game and what the price of admission was, if there was one.

When I read about this on the Rutgers pages there were the usual pejorative comments from disgruntled fans that emanate from struggling programs that are consistently losing.

Slowly but surely, Coach Ash is improving the product.  Only the Buckeye dreadnaught (52-3), and the Badgers torpedoed the Knights badly prior to the Wolverines, this season.

All the pro-Wolverine hype could lull a fan or a team to sleep. The Wolverines had much acknowledged superiority, but fortunately it did not prevent them from giving very satisfactory effort.  This was a classic example of a “trap game”. Only once did the Knights break a significant big play. Rutgers were out jousted and dominated in this tournament.

The Michigan Coaches are to be credited for having the Wolverines ready after three straight tough encounters with ranked teams.  They had both the will and the way to win. As was expected.  Rutgers played hard, had good schemes, and left some bruises.  Coach Jim Harbaugh lauded the efforts of both sides in his post-game press conference, and so did Rutgers, Coach Chris Ash.

OFFENSE AND DEFENSE were outstanding against the Knights, although, in truth, it was not one of the best defensive games of the season against the run.

In my opinion, the offensive player of the game was Shea Patterson. He tossed 18 times for 280-yards, and 3 TDs.

Coach Harbaugh said at the post game presser: “He (Patterson) really played well tonight. He just does everything you ask him to do. That was a really tough night to throw the ball, it reminded me of my days back in Solider Field with that wind and conditions. But he made some unbelievable throws with that swirling wind. Also, our receivers did a great job catching the ball in the elements. Our guys continue to do a really good job catching the ball. That was really impressive. Rutgers was doing a good job containing the run game, but the protection was terrific all night. The throw and catch part was difficult with the conditions, but they did it at as high a level as you could have.”

Shea is the “guts and glue” (as the late great Bob Ufer used to say) that holds M’s offense together this year.  He rolled right and left, hit receivers, handed off perfectly, threw for three TDs, threw no interceptions, made good RPO reads, and played in a poised and workmanlike fashion.

That WRs Nico Collins (3/56-yards, two TDs with a long of 36-yards), Donovan Peoples-Jones (5/83 and a long of 32), and Oliver Martin (3/35) made fine catches, kept a toe in bounds when required, and ran intelligent routes helped to make this an outstanding offensive performance.

TE Zach Gentry (3/42, long of 2) made an outstanding leaping catch. Chris Evans and Bell nabbed 3 each, for a combined 41-yards.

The WRs did have a couple of muffs, but they generally overcame the wind and are improving every game.

The OL was up to the task.  They pass protected well and opened hole for a number of backs.

Asked why M was 9 of 13 on third down conversions Rutgers’ Head Coach Chris Ash addressed the subject after the game by stating that “Can’t put it any other way. Good players make good plays. They pass protected well. And some of their play actions, we couldn’t get to the QB, and that’s really the difference”.

The OL also was a benefit to the running game.  In rushing for 2 scores, Karan Higdon blew past 1,000-yards to date for the season. It cannot be said that his game was among Karan’s best.  He did not have the best first half of his career.

Still, it has been a long time since an M RB has accomplished that for the Wolverines. Karan has earned every yard.

The leading rusher was Chris Evans who broke a late game 61-yard TD scamper, Chris ran 6/75-yards and 1 TD, for a 12.5 average. Tru Wilson ran 8/58, long of 15, with a 7.9-yard avg. Karan Higdon was 15/44 with a 2.8 avg.  Martin, Hewlett, Edwards Bell, Mason and Milton also carried.  The group totaled  40 carries for 204-yards, 3 TDs, and a 4.8-yard average.

The Wolverines totaled 453-yards of offense to Rutgers’ 252, Rutgers had only 59-yards through the air.

The Wolverines continue to show improvement game by game.

Chris Ash said that Rutgers’ had their best rushing performance in a long, long time, with but one “misfit” that occasioned Chris Evan’s 61-yard bee line to the end zone.  Other than that, he (Ash) thought they played a really good run game, and that it was their best rushing of the year.  Said the Wildcat helped some, and was part of the game plan.

The M defense was effective enough to win big on this afternoon, but maybe a little less aggressive than they were in the prior three games against the run. Against the passing attack they were lights out.

It is no surprise that after the three-game revenge tour they could have a little let down in crushing the running game.  The longest Rutgers play of the passing game was a trick play to a second- string Rutgers QB, Giovanni Rescigno, that went for 19-yards.

This is beginning to look like a consistently productive offense and defense. As good or better than any in the Big Ten.  I am certain Don Brown will cure any dysfunctions in the run defense by Hoosier time.

HOW THEY SCORED:  Rutgers received the Kick Off, and then the teams traded blows with no scoring effect for most of the 1st quarter until the 45 second mark.  Karan then ran it in from the 1 yard-line for a TD to complete an 8 play 59-yard drive. TE Zach Gentry had a 16-yard catch, Higdon, Evans and Mason got it to the one via short runs before Karan ran it in.  M-7, R-0.

Some seconds later Rutgers’ Pacheco breezed 80-yards to score via Rutgers’ best play of the game. M-7, R-7.  It was a most beautiful execution of a zone read play.

The Wolverines answered in the second quarter on another Higdon  1-yard TD run.   That completed a 12-play 65-yard drive.  Shea Patterson completed passes to Martin Oliver (7-yards),  Ronnie Bell (12-yards), Donovan Peoples-Jones (9-yards) to move the ball to the Rutgers  20. A couple of short runs and Higdon scored again.  This series was an example of Shea’s value to the Wolverines at the QB position. M-14, R-7

Next it was the Nico Collins show, as he caught a great throw by Patterson in the end zone.  Both the throw and the catch were perfection. This completed a 6-play, 53-yard drive for 6.  Collins had previously contributed to the drive with a 10-yard catch. M-21, R-7.

The half ended at the above score with the Wolverines firmly in control and receiving to start the second half.

Patterson went to the air again, and with effect.  First came an in-completion, then Gentry nabbed a 21-yard pass to the M 49. Peoples-Jones caught one for 32-yards. Oliver Martin was wide open in the end zone as the Wolverines made it look easy. It was a 6 play, 53-yard drive.  M-28, R-7.

The next M scoring drive started with a 13-yard Tru Wilson run. He then toted two for 8-yard each, and one for three.  Tru had his best Michigan performance in this game. A ten-yard pass to Collins got the score, completing the 5 play 43-yard drive. M-35, R-7.

The Wolverines finished the scoring for the game with a Chris Evans dash up the middle for 61-yards and the TD.  It seems that he is finally back to 100% after an injury plagued season. Good timing.

The Final was M-42, R-7

TAKEAWAY: This was a much-needed game for the Wolverines.  The offense was relatively ineffective running the ball, so Shea Patterson showed them the way to a win through the air.  This was a definite trap game, and the Wolverines prevailed, giving up only one big play, They can be happy with the result,

While the Northwestern Wildcats have clawed their way to Indy, the fate of the Wolverines regarding the West Division title is still in the making.  They must beat Indiana at home next week end, and the Columbus denizens in their lair the next week to face the Wildcats in Indy.

You can bet that the team and their coaches, are correctly taking it one game at a time, and are seeing only IU Red at this time, but the bigger picture can now come into view for fans.  In the shadows, beyond the Hoosier Red, one can catch glimpses of Scarlet tinged with Gray.  Even deeper into the shadows there lies a snarling Wildcat.

Michigan sorely needs to be in the Big Ten Championship title game.  They need a shot at another Big Ten Championship soon.  Some of us are getting old.

I think this set of Wolverines is up to the task.  They have the required coaching, talent, ability, and the will necessary  to make the required  team effort.

Go Blue!


The Penn State Lions rolled into M Stadium Saturday fresh off a late surge to beat the West Division Iowa Hawkeyes the previous Saturday. They were desperate to not incur another loss. Previously, struggling Michigan State had ventured to Happy Valley, and furnished them with a Big Ten loss. Saturday the Wolverines gave them another in convincing fashion, 42 to 7.

THIS WAS ALSO M’s MOST IMPORTANT GAME, SEASON TO DATE, and this is their most impressive victory to date this season. Even though the Wolverines had won their last seven games, and had achieved a 5th place National Ranking, plus a 5th place ranking in the first play-off ranking of the season, they were not lolling in false sense of security. They were ready to assume their heavy and important task of beating the Lions.  This was, after all, the most important game they had played to date, and they treated it appropriately.

It was after all, the first time they had faced the Lions after the Lions whupped them severely in Beaver Stadium last fall 42-10, and that loss still echoed.

PSU bent M’s DC Don Brown’s mind more than a little with that victory, along with several, if not all, of the M players.

Chase Winovich was among them, regarding the Penn State game and more.  He has called this season a” Revenge Tour” on several occasions.

While a Michigan Coach usually will not endorse or mention a revenge factor, for any game, this year Don Brown was an exception. Brown took public and personal responsibility for last year’s Wolverine defensive failure in the Penn State game.

For Coach Brown, and many of the players, the bad taste of the Lions whipping lingered, and they mentioned it, as did Coach Brown.

Brown certainly stressed what PSU did to his defense last year, and how they did it. He said he woke up every morning and thought of that game. Not any more, as he, and the team can now move on.  Mission accomplished.

Several M players had mentioned that instead of taking a knee at the M six-yard line, with 1 or 2 seconds remaining in the game, the Lions ran a play to run up the score, instead of taking a knee. The defense held, but the attempt was resented then, and was, noted and acted upon . Brown had shown a video clip to his defense, lest they forget. Chase Winovich has been vocal regarding this.

Further, he called this season a”Revenge Tour”, and that has become a team mantra.  Basically that recalls last year’s nasty losses, and turns them into wins this year.

He again discussed this at length after the game.  The Wolverines have paid the Lions back with interest to every Michigan Fan’s satisfaction.  Like the so-called Judgment Day win in 1997 against Penn State, this eighth win of the season might be recognized as a spring board to a great season.

Chase and all his teammates on both sides of the ball, were up to the task against the Lions. This will become distant past, and not a concern any longer as other challenges gather.  Losses linger, wins call for more more in the future.

THE USUALLY LAID-BACK COACH HARBAUGH WAS effusive in praise for both sides of the ball after the game. He said that had he had to count all the defense, beginning with Chase Winovich, and Rashan Gary was in there. He then enumerated the effectiveness of each defensive position group.  He singled out a sterling job by DC Don Brown. Then he extensively praised QB Shea Patterson, RB Karan Higdon, and the OL line, and the offense in general. He did not fail to mention the contributions of OL Coach Ed Warinner.

Harbaugh obviously enjoyed an an important team victory.

THE BYE WEEK AND HARBAUGH ON THE CROWD: The Wolverines had a bye week to consider their future, and heal some of the dinged. It turned out that Rashan Gary was ready to play and he did well. WR Tarik Black was ready to play, and caught a beautiful long TD pass that was negated by a penalty situation.

His return will facilitate an even more productive set of X, Y, and Z receivers. Offensive Tackle Juwan Bushel-Beatty was in condition to participate, and did.

None of these came as much of surprise because the players were a little, just a little, more forthcoming, than Harbaugh during the bye week regarding injuries.  For example, they expected dinged tackle Bushell-Beatty to play, and he did.

The team used the off week to rest, and to give snaps to Freshman and reserves on the verge of breaking into the two-deep. A fine opportunity to teach and learn football.

Some of the coaches traveled far and wide to recruit.  On the Sunday before the game, they all resumed their normal game week routine.

The question as to whether the bye week would harm or hinder the Wolverines’ play was answered Saturday.  They never missed a beat by scoring early, scoring in every quarter, and allowing only one late consolation score by the Lions.

The response of the crowd enthusiastically earned Harbaugh’s appreciation post-game.  “Our stadium, our fans — it had a different feel tonight. It felt like the old days, just an energized group of fans, the student section,” he said. “It was a Saturday in Ann Arbor the way it’s supposed to be, the way I remember it at the very highest level. It was an electric atmosphere in there, and that’s great.

THE OFFENSE:  The offense hummed with the precision of a smooth, jacked up V-8 gas engine, but without the exhaust.   RB Karan Higdon hit the road running. He ran 20 times for 133-yards net and a long run of fifty yards.  His average per carry was 6.5-yards.  His runs were a key to M’s victory and included one jaunt for fifty-yards.  Chris Evans galloped for 57 net on 12 carries, and had a long of 32-yards.  They did the bulk of their damage on the ground as M produced 259-yards on the ground on 52 carries, but some pass were key.

Shea Patterson had another outstanding game.  Depending what the team needs he is caretaker or play-maker, depending on need, either on the ground or through the air.  He can perform to perfection a well called play, or leg out and execute in other situations.  Saturday, he outdid one of the better QBs in the Big Ten, Trace McSorely.  Trace, and the other PSU QB together managed to complete 18 for 68-yards net.  Shea had a lot more than a little help from his defensive friends in arranging those numbers, but Shea was outstanding on his side of the ball.  He threw 17 times for 11 completions and 144-yards. He also ran 11 times for 42 net yards, with a long of 32.  This moved the chains in some critical situations.

Patterson threw to Nico Collins twice for 53-yards with a long of 45, Donovan Peoples-Jones three times for 38-yards, and a TD. RB Chris Evans was 3 for 30-yards.  The TEs got into the act with a TD catch by Zach Gentry who caught two for 18-yards and a TD.

THE DEFENSE:  Chase Winovich had a great game but so did so many others on the defense., like Bush, Kinnel and Hudson, among others. Harbaugh said afterwards all the defensive position groups were very good and it is a fact they were. They were on target, and that Don Brown did a noteworthy job.

Bush, Kinnel and Uche had 4,4, and 3 solos respectively and a total of 7, 5, and 3 tackles total.  Uche had 2 sacks.  That is a defense that can be proud of itself, and what was accomplished Saturday.  Still, the next challenge is coming up sooner or later, and now becomes a more important game.

HOW THEY SCORED:  The Wolverines took off at the start of the first quarter.  The Lions received, and were held. An early sack by Josh Uche set the order of the day.

An 8-play, 76-yard drive ensued.  Higdon rushed for 1, 10 and then 50-yards to the Lion 15. Finally, Shea Patterson ran it in, and it soon became 7-0 with the extra point. The defense held PSU to zero first quarter first downs.

Fortunately, PSU QB Trace McSorely fumbled early, after a 2-yard gain. PSU gotten the ball on a blocked Quinn Nordin attempt at a 50-yard field goal.  The ball was spotted at the PSU 26. In a flurry of calls, PSU was handed an illegal block penalty, and M was handed an unsportsmanlike 15-yards.  PSU had a  an incomplete McSorley pass result in a call of pass interference on the Wolverine Josh Metellus.  Then came the aforementioned McSorley fumble. The ever alert and aggressive Chase Winovich covered it at the PSU 48.

A number of M rushes put the ball at the PSU 23.  A beautiful Patterson to Donovan-Peoples aerial of 23-yards made it M-14, PSU-0.  The first half ended M up 14-zip.

The Lions still owned no first downs, and the M defense owned them.

The Wolverines received to start the second half.  The two teams punched and counter punched without much result until 8:01 of the third quarter.

The most impressive drive of the game began at the M ten-yard line, and proceeded 90-yards to a TD. Patterson ran for 11, and a first down.  He was working the read option to perfection. A 7-yard pass to Donovan People-Jones, and a Karan Higdon gallop for 19-yards helped put the ball at the M 43.  A 24-yard throw to Chris Evans got it to the PSU 35. Patterson got four-yards to the 7.  Zach Gentry scored the TD on 7-yard pass. M led 21 to zip.

The Wolverines struck again quickly as M’s Brandon Watson ran a 62-yard interception in for 6.  Suddenly it was 28 to zip.

M had 15 first downs to the Lions 7. M had totaled 315 net yards to PSUs 113 for the game at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter also belonged to the Wolverines.  Their first TD was fueled be an elegant 26-yard punt return by Donovan Peoples-Jones to the Michigan 47. RB Chris Evans ran it 32-yards.  Then there was a 13-yard Patterson zip to the 6.  Ben Mason got a couple yards, and Karan got the 4-yard score. M-35, PSU-0.  This was a 6-play, 53-yard drive.

An interception by David Long was run back to the PSU 12.  Runs by Chris Evens and Dylan McCaffery got it to the one. Chris got it in for 6.  M-42, PSU-0.

The Lions brought the score to 42-7with a consolation TD to finish the scoring M-42, PSU-7.

TAKEWAY: One hundred percent perfection is hard to achieve or maintain in any endeavor, especially D-1 NCAA football, and the Wolverines still have more work to do.

But this season is well a on its way, and there are now sufficient measuring bench marks available to measure the football prowess of the Wolverines, and to right now label them as a good football team.

They have been meeting the challenges as they improve on both sides of the ball. There is no question that they are good.  But they need to prove it at least four more times this season for notable accomplishment, and then take it from there.  The climb to greatness gets steeper as they get better.

Go Blue!