That’s more like it, said almost every Michigan fan as the Wolverines put together a dominant performance unlike the team has had all season. With Brandon Peters getting the first start of his career, the trio of Jim Harbaugh, Tim Drevno and Pep Hamilton decided to make it easy on the redshirt freshmen by leaning on the offensive line and the dynamic duo of Karan Higdon and Chris Evans.
And it worked like a charm.
Minus Ty Isaac and Michael Onwenu, Michigan’s running game performed as well as it has all season. That included 371 yards on the ground, with Higdon (200 yards, 2 TDs) and Evans (191 yards, 2 TDs) leading the way.
From Peters simple throws, including a beautifully called throw back for the first score of the game, to consistently calling counter runs, which led to Higdon and Evans three (total) 60+ yard touchdown runs, it was a performance that was much needed heading into the final stretch of the season. Now, we’ll see if the staff can get Peters more passing attempts next week against Maryland, as he clearly went a little cold as the game went on (8/13 for 56 yards and 1 TD).
As for the defense, it was just like its been all year. It took two series for Don Brown and the players to figure out exactly what the opponents game plan was and it was put on lock down from there on out. After racking up 111 yards and 7 points on those first two drives, here’s what Minnesota was able to do against Michigan:
- 3 plays, 3 yards – Punt
- 5 plays, 21 yards – Punt
- 1 play, -1 yard – End of Half
- 3 plays, -10 yards – Punt
- 4 plays, 1 yard – Fumble
- 3 plays, -7 yards – Punt
- 3 plays, -2 yards – Punt
- 4 plays, 22 yards – Punt
- 12 plays, 62 yards – Field Goal
For the math majors out there, that’s just 89 yards total for the Gophers offense after the first two drives, and just 164 yards in total for the game. This is the same offense that put up 290 yards and 27 points on Michigan State and 281 yards on Iowa. If not for an aesthetics appealing field goal at the end of the game, this would have been the lowest point total output for the Gophers all season. Pretty decent performance for the young Michigan defense, if I do say so myself.
There are still plenty of things to clean up on offense, including the offensive line in pass protection, Quinn Nordin’s first sign of struggles, and Peters short arming a couple wide open throws. However, if Michigan is going to knock off Wisconsin and/or Ohio State, it’ll have to be done behind the running game which had its best day of the season on Saturday night.
- VIPER Khaleke Hudson
- Talk about a coming out party. Hudson put together one of the best individual defensive performances of the college football season. He was an absolute force from start to finish, making big play after big play to lead the defense. All together, he finished with 13 total tackles, 11 solo tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. It may just be a sign of things to come from the sophomore standout.
- RB Chris Evans
- There’s the Evans that Michigan fans have been waiting to see all season. The sophomore running back showed off his elusiveness, vision and breakaway speed throughout the game as he ripped off 191 yards on just 13 carries (14.7 ypc) and 2 long touchdown runs. With Ty Isaac out with an injury, this was a much needed showing from Captain America.
- RB Karan Higdon
- Higdon does it again. The junior running back proved once again that, not only is he the best running back on the roster, but he’s one of the best running backs in the Big Ten. He finished this game with 200 yards on 16 carries (12.5 ypc) and 2 TDs, giving him 804 yards on 119 carries (6.8 ypc) and 10 TDs for the season. Barring something drastic happening, it looks likely that he’ll be the first Michigan running back to go over 1,000 yards rushing since Fitzgerald Toussaint in 2011.
- Other Options:
- DT Mo Hurst
- OG Ben Bredeson
- TE Sean McKeon
Check out the highlights from the 2017 Battle for the Little Brown Jug:
Photo Credit: Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog