2020 Wisconsin vs Michigan: Four Takeaways & Highlights

Like the year 2020, this season has been just plain crappy. Even when you think “that’s gotta be the worst, right?”, hahaha no way. Michigan was soundly handled by Wisconsin in its third primetime game of the year and now falls to 1-3 on the season, obviously the worst start of the Harbaugh era.

Wisconsin 49 – Michigan 11

That was hard to watch. Here’s my thoughts on Michigan’s third straight loss:

1. A Little Bit of Everything

Not even competitive against a team that hasn’t played since week one. This pandemic ridden season will forever have an asterisk and may not even finish count but damn this is pathetic. From literally the opening kickoff to the end of the game, it was just a piss poor showing all around.

Really not much else to say about it. From simple stuff like a Graham Mertz QB sneak going for 6 yards to waving the white flag in the 2nd quarter on a quarterback draw up the middle on 2nd and 18, there’s something off. This is far from a one-person problem. It’s a bit of an pride thing, a coaching thing, a development thing, a scheme thing, a bit of everything.

It’s a shit sandwich of issues with this team and, like this pandemic, it’s hard to see the end in sight.

Let’s just say, I would never tell anyone to put a dollar on the Michigan in the upcoming night game at Rutgers. Even as a 10 point favorite. No way. Not unless PJ Fleck rowed his boat to the Jersey Shore.

2. Asterisk Year

I know this will continue to upset some but I still fully see this season as an asterisk year. And that goes for everyone. Would’ve said the same if Michigan was undefeated and won the National Championship. So many players not playing because of choice, injury or illness, teams being quarantined for weeks, double-digit games being canceled each week like it’s nothing, and oh yeah, there wasn’t any spring or summer practice. Hard to judge this season like it’s just another season.

Now, that is not giving Jim Harbaugh an excuse either. What this team has shown in the past three weeks has been hot garbage, to say the least. Changes do need to be made within the program this year. No doubt about that.

But not at the head coaching position.

This would be more of a fireable offense if this was a real year. But it’s not. Have you looked around? This is actually the altered timeline that the damn Avengers created. Blame Tony Stark.

If Harbaugh doesn’t make some crazy move and jump to the NFL this offseason (oh boy, could you imagine the headlines), I’m still fully on board with giving him 2021 to show this year is indeed an asterisk and not the new normal.

As for the rest of the staff, I’m not sure I can say the same. Josh Gattis has some decent excuses with new quarterbacks, hardly two years to implement a new offense, and a ton of young receivers and lineman. But Don Brown doesn’t have those excuses. He’s been on the job far too long for his defense to look as lost and defeated as it has.

Though it probably won’t happen until the offseason for several reasons including respect and recruiting, it’s becoming overdue.

3. Stock Up

  • Cade McNamara
    • McNamara got his chance and drove Michigan down for its only touchdown of the game on his first drive. He wasn’t perfect for the entire game but that one drive did show a lot, including three pretty passes that moved the offense quickly down the field. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the start against Rutgers.
  • Mike Sainristil
    • When you make a catch like Sainristil did for the only touchdown of the game, you get on the list. What a grab and it came when the game was already getting out of hand. Great effort and skill play there.
  • Recruiting
    • This goes for football and basketball. Juwan Howard over here signing the (early) #1 class with two five-stars while Jim Howard may be pulling a rabbit out of his hat and turning his team’s struggles into a recruiting strength. The large double unofficial visit to campus set up by the 2021 commit’s parents looks to have been an absolute hit and has moved the needle in a big way for several of the top 2021 and 2022 targets. More hopefully to come.
  • Michigan Hockey
    • Can’t go without giving props to Mel Pearson’s squad. Full of elite young guns including potentially multiple top picks in next year’s draft, #13 Michigan put on a puck possession clinic in their dominating 8-1 and 3-0 wins over #15 Arizona State. Now #6 in the country, the Wolverines look like a team well designed to be in the Frozen Four, as long as the season isn’t put on ice.

4. Stock Down

  • Night Games
    • Funk night games. Enough already. All but one game this season has been in primetime and, ya know what, it’s not making my time very prime. Before halftime, the games have just become background noise for responsible small two household socially distant family get-togethers.
  • Tight Ends
    • Both Nick Eubanks and Erick All have s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e-d early on. All has had a case of the drops early on and Eubanks showed it on the first drive of the game, causing an interception on a bullet from Milton. This was a position I thought was destined to be a bright spot for this offense and that just has not been the case.
  • Running Back Carousel
    • Can the coaches just pick one or two guys and run with it? I’m a fan of all four of their options but the run game hasn’t done anything since the opener. Now, to be fair, being down multiple scores and having an oft-injured offensive line can obviously hurt the number of attempts. But this offense will only run well when it runs well. The coaching staff needs to figure out what works and find a guy or two to ride.
    • My choices: Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins. Bring in Chris Evans and Blake Corum for a change of pace but besides that, let Charbonnet and Haskins eat.
  • Joe Milton
    • 9/19 for 98 yards and two interceptions. Don’t wanna keep piling on him but that was a really rough outing. Trying to do too much has killed him. Not progressing through his routes and staring down his targets have made it too easy on opposing defenses. And Wisconsin is one of the best in the Big Ten. His confidence looks completely rattled. It’ll be big to see how he rebounds because there’s a real QB competition again.
  • Goal Line Play Calling

So, that was the 3rd stinker in a row for Michigan. 1-3 on the season. What do you make of it? Do you want to see a change made? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Ding

Garrett Fishaw