Michigan 27 Ohio State 56 – Week 14 Recap


Final Score: 56-27, Ohio State by 29 over Michigan
SP+ Projection: Ohio State by 11.0 (-18.0)
CD Projection: Michigan by 3 (-32)


Week 14 Five Factors box score

WEEK 14 RECAP vs. Ohio State

This became another version of The Game that looked a lot like Michigan-Ohio State games of this generation.  The Wolverines came out strong and scored on their first drive. They stood toe-to-toe through the first quarter at 14-13.  But, as the 2nd quarter and 3rd quarter wore on, Ohio State continued to execute and make big plays. Michigan ran out of steam and looked hapless as the Buckeyes pulled away.  

The offensive game plan provided a solid foundation for Michigan on the day.  However, the Buckeyes’ #1 defense gave the Wolverines a dose of their own medicine by choking them out after halftime.  The Wolverines could only muster 111 total yards against the smothering OSU defense in the 3rd and 4th quarters combined.  Plays were available to be made, especially in the 3rd quarter, but too many of Shea Patterson’s passes hit the wide receivers and then hit the turf.  As the clock turned to the 4th quarter, Michigan had completed just one pass in the 3rd frame. While Michigan’s 39% success rate is only slightly below average, looking at it by quarter is more telling: 53% (1st) 47% (2nd) 29% (3rd) 30% (4th).

While Michigan sputtered in the second half, Ohio State kept rolling.  The Buckeyes scored 14 points in each quarter by staying true to their identity.  JK Dobbins was explosive running the ball, and Justin Fields repeatedly hit deep shots through the air.  OSU matched Michigan’s hot start with a 57% success rate and 8.4 yards per play in the 1st quarter. Unlike the Wolverines offense, Ryan Day and his staff had the next round of answers for their opponents’ in game adjustments.  The Buckeyes’ 7.5 yards per play will likely send Jim Harbaugh’s staff back to the drawing board. That is the most Michigan allowed per play all season, including the early season blow out in Madison (6.9 YPP).

This puts the final stamp onto a frustrating season for Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines football program.  With the experience and talent returning from 2018, this team had their eyes set on much loftier goals. The goals are the correct ones.  To achieve those championship goals, this program needs to execute in big games. There is nothing to do at this point but get back to work.

Michigan 39 Indiana 14 – Week 13 Recap


Final Score: 39-14, Michigan by 25 over Indiana
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 2.4 (+22.6)
CD Projection: Michigan by 14 (+11)


Week 13 Five Factors box score @ Indiana

WEEK 13 RECAP @ Indiana

Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines maintained focus through the week.  Many folks had this game circled on the schedule because it was: 1) on the road 2) against an Indiana team who gives Michigan trouble annually and 3) squeezed in between two rivalry games versus Michigan State and Ohio State.  Kudos to the coaching staff for keeping the players on task. The players really executed at a high level in varying weather conditions on the road against the Hoosiers.

Finally, Nico Collins had his day.  The junior wide receiver hauled in 6 passes for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns.  When the ball went in Collins’ direction and he didn’t catch it, there was likely a pass interference call on the defender.  He is a dominant weapon for Josh Gattis, and it seems like everyone has finally discovered that fact. Shea Patterson followed up his first 300+ yard passing game with a second one a week later.  Patterson had 366 yards and 5 touchdowns to Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Ronnie Bell. Michigan’s 7.8 yards per play is their most explosive mark of 2019, and the most since Week 2 of 2018 vs. WMU.   

The Indiana Hoosiers have continually given Michigan problems, and their 2018 game plan was the kindling for Ohio State’s bonfire in The Game last season.  The 2019 game in Bloomington started in the same mold with Indiana scoring touchdowns on 2 of their first 3 drives. Then, the defensive staff made their adjustments and forced 5 consecutive punts and forced a fumble over the next 6 drives.  During garbage time, the Hoosiers were able to eclipse 300 total yards, and also managed 4.8 yards per play on the day. There may be a few issues to work out in the defensive film room this week, but it feels like there are plenty of tricks left in Don Brown’s bag for the Buckeyes next week.

Ohio State clinched the Big Ten East with their 28-17 victory over Penn State in Columbus earlier today.  On Tuesday night, the Bucks may be consensus #1 in the country in the AP poll, the Coaches’ poll, and the College Football Playoff rankings.  Ryan Day will lead OSU to Indianapolis to compete for a Big Ten title regardless of what happens in Ann Arbor. Jim Harbaugh has led an impressive bounce back after an awful start to the Big Ten season.  In terms of Big Ten titles, this team’s slow building improvement is too little too late. However, in terms of 2019 season success and Harbaugh era legacy, the Wolverines have everything to play for. The 2019 version of The Game will come down to which team’s players will rise to the occasion and show they want it more.  Big time players make the critical plays in the biggest games. #BeatOhio

Michigan 44 MSU 10 – Week 12 Recap


Final Score: 44-10, Michigan by 34 over Michigan State
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 12.7 (+21.3)
CD Projection: Michigan by 17 (+17)


Week 12 Five Factors box score


That game had a little bit of everything, but it ended with a Maize & Blue avalanche.  After Michigan State scored early to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, Michigan roared back 44-3.  This year’s Spartan team is not up the Mark Dantonio standard of this decade. However, I am sure that doesn’t make Jim Harbaugh’s third victory over MSU any less sweet.  

Michigan’s offense was led by a career day for Shea Patterson.  The senior quarterback was 24 of 33 for 384 yards and 4 touchdown passes.  Today also marked the first game in 2019 that Michigan passed more than it ran in a victory.  Josh Gattis called 55% pass plays in a 34-point blowout. This could signal another major step forward for #SpeedInSpace in the final two games.  Offensively, 7.4 yards per play is their best mark of the season, and the 51% success rate is third best.  

On defense, the narrative held pretty much as predicted.  Michigan State had a solid game plan and back of tricks coming out of the gate.  However, once they had shown Don Brown all that was hidden, MSU could not get much moving.  The Spartans averaged 5.2 yards per play in the first quarter as they took their 7-0 lead. In the third quarter they accumulated almost as much yardage as the first (74 total yards), but needed 19 plays to do it.  In the fourth quarter, Michigan State could only muster 28 yards on 13 plays (2.2 yards per play). Perhaps the most encouraging signal sent by the defense came from the bone-jarring hit Khaleke Hudson put on an MSU wide receiver on a crossing route.  That signal was sent directly to Indiana and Ohio State, who decimated the Wolverines’ coverage with similar routes last year.

Whatever did not go well in the first bye week (before the Wisconsin game) definitely got corrected for the second bye week.  Jim Harbaugh and his staff had Michigan executing as well as we’ve seen in 2019. This crescendo in November is a welcome sight.  In his first four seasons, finishing each season on a low note has been a legitimate criticism of Harbaugh. Now the challenge is to give the proper respect and preparation for a very good Indiana team.  Preparing for a road trap game will fall directly on Harbaugh and his staff. For now, enjoy the State Championship. It’s GREAT…to BE…a Michigan WOLVERINE!

Michigan 38 Maryland 7 – Week 10 Recap


Final Score: 38-7, Michigan by 31 over Maryland
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 16.3 (+14.7)
CD Projection: Michigan by 17 (+14)


WEEK 10 RECAP @ Maryland

The narrative that the media preferred was Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis vs. Maryland head coach Mike Locksley.  After some chippiness back in the summer, both coaches downplayed that media angle going into the Week 10 game in College Park.  Instead, Michigan won this game by controlling every phase of the game, although by a smaller margin than many expected. The Wolverines had a smallish edge in each of the Five Factors in the box score above.  

Offensively, Michigan chose a very balanced approach with 55 % of play calls being run plays.  The ground game accounted for 46% of the total yardage. Zach Charbonnet continues to churn out yards and find the end zone.  This week he became the all-time record holder for rushing touchdowns in a freshman season. In the first half, explosive plays were the difference between the Wolverines and Terps.  On a key 51 yard bomb to Nico Collins, quarterback Shea Patterson looked to be in much better rhythm and hit Collins in stride over the top of the defense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Michigan’s opponents continue to come up with successful game plans versus Don Brown.  However, that success has a shelf life of only the first quarter. Once Brown’s adjustments are made, Michigan dominates statistically, and the opposing offense is left seeing stars.  Only 0.3% separated Maryland’s success rate and Michigan’s. But after missing a 37-yard field goal attempt in the 2nd quarter, the Terrapins punted on their next seven possessions. Maryland only amassed 78 total yards on those seven drives.

Michigan now heads into their second bye week.  The additional time off should serve the Wolverines well by providing additional opportunity to nurse bumps, bruises, and minor injuries.  Michigan did not perform well coming out of the first bye week to play a road game at Wisconsin. This time, the second of three home rivalry games awaits on the other side of the bye.  I am sure Jim Harbaugh’s staff will be digging deep into their detail prep while watching the Michigan State Spartans try to right the ship against Illinois.

Michigan 45 Notre Dame 14 – Week 9 Recap


Final Score: 45-14, Michigan by 31 over Notre Dame
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 4.0 (+27)
CD Projection: Michigan by 3 (+28)


WEEK 9 RECAP vs. Notre Dame

When was the 2019 turnaround, officially?  Could it have been the bounce back on the road after Illinois had scored 25 straight points?  Was it when Jim Harbaugh proclaimed the Wolverines were entering their “finest hour” after halftime in Happy Valley?  The staff continued to send positive signals that this team was close to clicking, even in the toughest times. They finally hit on all cylinders tonight in the Ann Arbor rain versus Notre Dame.  Michigan pulverized the Irish 45-14, and it could have been worse.

The offensive unit was led through a driving rain storm by their veteran offensive line.  Michigan ended the night with 303 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. The Notre Dame defense employed a very blitz-heavy strategy, focused on taking away Michigan’s edge runs.  The high risk / high reward gambit turned out to be a mistake. Michigan was able to block the blitzing linebackers on the edges, while Hassan Haskins was led up the middle by pulling linemen and tight ends.  Haskins finished as Michigan’s leading rusher with 149 yards on 20 carries.

Defensively, I am sure the players and the coaches will be disappointed this game was not another shutout.  The Irish were still sporting a goose egg on the scoreboard deep into the third quarter, and were averaging just 1.5 yards per play at the time.  On 3rd and 10, Brad Hawkins’ interception was wiped out by a phantom pass interference call against Khaleke Hudson. Five plays later, Notre Dame got onto the board with a well designed tight end throwback pass from Ian Book to Cole Kmet.  Don Brown’s swarming defense held Notre Dame to 3.0 yards per play and only a 23% success rate when all was said and done.

Michigan moves to 6-2 on the season, and this rivalry win will help to remove some bad taste from their mouths.  Their Big Ten East division chances are on life support with Ohio State’s throttling of Wisconsin and Penn State’s handling of MSU earlier today.  Michigan still needs Ohio State to trip up before they come to Ann Arbor, and they need Penn State to lose twice. With that said, the Wolverines showed they are still very engaged in pushing this season to a successful conclusion.  This was a dominating victory over a top-ten ranked Notre Dame team that doesn’t play another ranked opponent. In the final four games, Michigan will need to avoid trap games @ Maryland and @ Indiana. These dangerous opponents are lurking in between the remaining rivalry games versus MSU and The Game versus the Buckeyes.  Onward to Maryland!