It remains to be seen if Michigan will be able to climb the Big Ten East Division standings this season, but it is unquestionable the Wolverines have a better shot at playing for a national title than Ole Miss does this fall. That is why quarterback Shea Patterson says he decided to transfer to Ann Arbor.
Speaking to the media following the Michigan football program in Paris, France, Patterson opened up about his decision to transfer to Michigan for the first time. A big part of the reason Patterson chose the Wolverines is the opportunity to be able to compete for a championship, which is something that would be impossible with an Ole Miss program currently restricted by NCAA sanctions, including a postseason ban.
“I can live with throwing an interception in the national championship game. Or to get there, in the playoff. It might be hard to live with that — but I don’t know if I could have lived with not being able to to get the chance to compete for one,” Patterson said, according to Mlive.com. “I think watching Michigan all last year, and with the guys we got coming back on defense, I feel like we’ve got a real good shot at doing that.”
Patterson likely solves the biggest question for Michigan coming off the 2017 season now that he has officially been ruled eligible for the upcoming season. Michigan’s defense should be loaded with talent and the Wolverines return the team’s leading rusher in Karan Higdon (not to mention a nice alternative in Chris Evans). Among the biggest issues Michigan had last week was at quarterback, which hindered the rest of the offense. With Patterson likely to win the quarterback job (and yes, Jim Harbaugh is saying there will be an open competition for the job), the offense could receive a nice boost in production and efficiency. The schedule will be tricky with road games at Ohio State and Michigan State and home games against Penn State and Wisconsin (and Nebraska?), but the offense almost has nowhere to go but up.
Michigan has yet to play for the Big Ten championship in the championship game era for the conference, and Ohio State figures to be the favorite out of the East division this season. Then again, the last two years of the College Football Playoff have included a non-division winner in the four-team field (Ohio State in 2016, Alabama last year). So the precedent has been set. If Michigan can get even a marginally improved offense with Patterson, who knows?
Michigan’s the latest football program to see its roster hit with the annual spring personnel attrition.
The father of Kingston Davis confirmed to Sam Webb of Scout.com that his son informed UM officials earlier Friday of his intention to transfer from the Wolverines. Apparently there were two reasons that triggered the running back’s decision: a crowded backfield and chatter that he would be changing positions.
While 2016 leading rusher De'Veon Smith is gone, the Wolverines’ second-, third- and fourth-leading rushers from last season — rising sophomore Chris Evans (614 yards), rising junior Karan Higdon (425), rising fifth-year senior Ty Isaac (417) — all return. Kareem Walker, a four-star 2016 recruit rated as the No. 4 running back in the country, sat out last season because of academics but should be a part of the rotation as a redshirt freshman. They also added four-star (O'Maury Samuels) and three-star (Kurt Taylor) backs as part of their 2017 recruiting class.
A three-star 2016 recruit, Davis was rated as the No. 1 fullback in the country in that year’s class. As a true freshman, the 6-1, 245-pound back carried the ball twice for 17 yards.
Dalvin Cook and Florida State taking on Jabrill Peppers and Michigan in the Orange Bowl was pegged early on as one of the best matchups of the season and a bowl that might be better than one of the two College Football Playoff semifinal games.
While we didn’t get to see Peppers due to a hamstring injury, we did see plenty of Cook and the Wolverines battling back and forth in a thrilling game that the Seminoles ultimately ended up winning 33-32 after a pair of wild fourth quarter comebacks.
FSU led for most of the contest and used a couple of big plays in the passing game to control the first half. But the Wolverines came clawing back as momentum shifted between both squads in the second half like a game of hot potato. Cook wound up rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown (adding another 62 on three receptions) as he likely closed out his career in garnet and gold not far from where he grew up.
Quarterback Deondre Francois (222 yards, two scores) began the game by leading Florida State on a 75 yard opening drive that ended in the end zone, but his play trailed off in the third quarter and tossed an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Mike McCray.
That pick-six was the spark Michigan needed after coming so close to breaking out some big plays to cut into the lead. After allowing Francois to find the end zone on the next drive to make up for his mistake, the Wolverines rallied behind a balanced attack that busted open several big plays on a tired defense.
Quarterback Wilton Speight found Khalid Hill in the end zone to finish off a quick drive in the final quarter and then Chris Evans rumbled 30 yards run to cap off 15 point outburst in under four minutes to take the lead for the first time all night.
A huge kick return allowed Florida State to get right back into things and snatch momentum back in a flash, finishing a crazy stretch when Francois found Nyqwan Murray in the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning points. The extra point was blocked and returned for a defensive score, giving Michigan another slim opening to capture the win.
Eventually the talented ‘Noles defense came up with a huge stop on fourth down to seal the victory and cap off one of the best Orange Bowls in a long, long time.
In a battle of top 10 Big Ten contenders, Michigan has managed to get to halftime with a 7-0 lead on Wisconsin. Still, the Wolverines have to be wondering if missed opportunities could come back to bite them.
Michigan has missed two field goal tries in the game so far, with Kenny Allen missing from 31 yards and 43 yards on consecutive Michigan possessions. With the way Michigan’s defense has been playing, however, it may not matter. Wisconsin has struggled to get the running game going with Corey Clement (31 rushing yards on nine attempts) and just 34 rushing yards as a team. That includes negative yardage taken by quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who has been under pressure by the swarming Wolverines defense for much of the game so far.
Michigan’s offense has not been particularly sharp against a tough Wisconsin defense either. The Wolverines are just one-for-five on third down. The only touchdown drive of the half for either team came on a 77-yard, 11-play drive with Khalid Hill picking up the final yard for a score. The key play of the drive was a 22-yard run by Chris Evans.
Michigan had a bit of a scare when big Grant Newsome needed to be helped off the field in the first half. The cart to take him off the field had come on the field but he was able to be removed from the field with some help by trainers to the Michigan sideline. Perhaps the moral support from the entire Michigan roster on the field helped him out.