Donovan Peoples-Jones

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Michigan’s Nico Collins returning for 2020

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Michigan wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones declared for the NFL on Sunday and, with Nico Collins and Tarik Black juggling similar decisions and Shea Patterson out of eligibility, Michigan’s passing game was staring down a major overhaul between 2019 and ’20.

It’ll still be different in 2020, but not as different as it could be.

On Sunday, Collins announced he will return to Ann Arbor for his senior season.

“I have always believed in finishing what I started,” Collins wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account. “Coach Harbaugh, Coach Gattis and staff have helped me grow as a player and as a person. Another season with our coaching staff will allow me to continue to work on my skill and development which will prepare me for the next level. With that being said, we have unfinished business.”

The former 4-star recruit from Birmingham appeared in four games as a freshman, then joined the starting lineup in 2018, catching 38 passes for 632 yards with six touchdowns.

This season, Collins caught 37 passes for 729 yards and seven touchdowns, ranking second on the team.

Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones latest to plunge into NFL draft waters

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Michigan wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones became the latest player to plunge into the NFL draft waters, announcing his intent to forgo his final season in Ann Arbor on Saturday.

Plenty of early entrants find those waters frigid and punishing, but the thought here is Peoples-Jones will find easier swimming at the professional level than he ever did at Michigan.

The junior caught 34 passes for 438 yards and six touchdowns, and the feeling here — and across college football, to be sure — is that Peoples-Jones could have easily doubled those numbers had he played in an offense more suited to his talents.

Though Michigan seemed to go through annual spurts where the Wolverines struggled to move the ball, Peoples-Jones and his cohorts Tarik Black and Nico Collins seemed to always be open. The trio combined to catch 96 passes for 1,490 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.

With Peoples-Jones officially gone, it will be interesting to see if Collins and Black follow their ex-teammate’s lead.

Should all three go, Michigan’s next leading wide receiver behind rising junior Ronnie Bell (who led the team with 48 grabs this season) would be rising sophomore Giles Jackson, who caught all of nine passes this season.

 

J.K. Dobbins climbs Ohio State all-time rushing list as Buckeyes lead Michigan at halftime

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Ohio State already has a spot in next week’s Big Ten championship game locked up, but there is still nothing the Buckeyes would love more than to continue their dominance over their rivals from Michigan (and keep their College Football path as clear as possible). After one half of play, Ohio State is 30 minutes away from extending their winning streak over the Wolverines to eight in a row. Ohio State leads Michigan 28-16 at halftime.

Michigan opened the game with a touchdown drive, pinning Ohio State in its largest deficit of the season (6-0), but a missed extra point by Quinn Nordin allowed Ohio State to take the lead on the ensuing possession. Ohio State has since held the upper hand in the game.

J.K. Dobbins moved up the Ohio State all-time rushing list in the first quarter by slipping past Ezekiel Elliott (3,961 yards) for second all-time in Buckeyes history. Dobbins reached halftime with 4,005 career yards. Only two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin has more all-time rushing yards in Ohio State history than Dobbins, and it will remain that way with Dobbins still 1,500 yards behind Griffin’s 5,589 career yards.

Since Michigan had trouble slowing Dobbins down, perhaps that is why they felt the need to try untying and removing his show at the end of a play (which was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct by the Big Ten officials)…

Dobbins would end up finishing that drive with a short touchdown run to give Ohio State a 21-13 lead on the Wolverines. Ohio State capitalized on a pair of Michigan miscues later in the second quarter. After recovering a Shea Patterson fumble in the red zone, the Buckeyes were forced to punt the ball back to the Wolverines. But an offside penalty on the special teams by Michigan gave the Buckeyes a free first down. Justin Fields immediately went deep t Garrett Wilson for a gain of 47 yards to the Michigan five-yard line, and Dobbins picked up his second touchdown of the game on the next play for a 28-13 lead.

Michigan has certainly found ways to move the football on Ohio State and they have done a terrific job of taking Chase Young out of the game (zero tackles) on the Ohio State defensive line, but mistakes (missed PAT, fumble in red zone, bad penalties, dropped touchdown in the end zone late in the first half by Donovan Peoples-Jones) are just continuing to haunt them. We’ll see if it really comes back to bite them in the second half.

No. 8 Notre Dame sees title hopes end in ugly loss to No. 19 Michigan

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If you’re going to lose a shot at the national title in the month of October, there may not be a worse way to do it than the way No. 8 Notre Dame did on Saturday night. Playing on national TV in the Big House of one of their historic rivals, the Irish were crushed by the drip, drip, drip of a Wolverine running game they absolutely could not stop — and all of it happened in the pouring rain.

On a night where the elements prevented either team from throwing the ball, No. 19 Michigan out-rushed Notre Dame 303-47 en route to a 45-14 thumping of the Irish.

Shea Patterson finished the game 6-of-12 for 100 yards and two touchdowns and he was, by far, the more effective of the two quarterbacks. Notre Dame’s Ian Book hit just eight of his 25 passes for 73 yards and Notre Dame’s only score.

While neither team could throw the ball, only one of them ran it. Hassan Haskins chugged for a game-high 149 yards on 20 carries, while Zach Charbonnet rushed 15 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns, and Tru Wilson rushed five times for 41 yards and a score. Notre Dame, meanwhile, ran for only 47 yards on 31 carries.

The loss effectively ends any hope Notre Dame (5-2) had of reaching back-to-back College Football Playoffs, while Michigan (6-2) continued the signs of life it showed in the second half of last week’s loss to Penn State.

Michigan out-gained Notre Dame 437-180, with 75 of Notre Dame’s yards coming when the Irish trailed by 38 points.

On a night when everything went the maize and blue’s way, one of the key plays turned out to be a blocked Michigan punt which ended in Michigan’s favor. In a scoreless game early in the first quarter, Will Hall‘s punt was blocked just in front of his own end zone, but the Irish mistakenly touched the ball, allowing Michigan’s Daxton Hill to hop on the ball at the Michigan 35-yard line, giving the Wolverines new life. The Wolverines marched all the way to Notre Dame’s 2 and settled for a 21-yard Jake Moody field goal.

After a Notre Dame punt, Michigan put together two straight touchdown drives all of them on the ground. Over 15 straight runs, covering 119 yards, Hassan HaskinsZach Charbonnet and Patterson ran over around and through the Irish to take total control of the game.

Trailing 17-0 at the half, Notre Dame briefly climbed back in the game with a 7-yard pass from Book to Cole Kmet at the 5:27 mark of the third quarter, a drive greatly aided by the referees, who turned this interception into a pass interference against Michigan.

That momentum was short lived as Michigan, now able to throw the ball after a driving rain finally stopped, immediately moved 75 yards in six plays, capped by an 8-yard pass from Patterson to Donovan Peoples-Jones.

Patterson put the game away for good with a 16-yard strike to Nico Collins at the 11:29 mark of the fourth quarter, giving Michigan a 31-7 lead. The Wolverines added two more scores, coming on a 27-yard Wilson run and a 26-yard toss from Dylan McCaffrey to Mike Sainristil.

Notre Dame added a 14-yard touchdown by Javon McKinley from Phil Jurkovec, which did nothing to help the Irish win the game but did avoid matching the largest margin of defeat in the 45-game history of this series. Michigan’s 38-0 win over the Irish in 2003 still holds that mark.

This on-again, off-again series will go back to off, as the teams will not play again until a home-and-home in 2033-34, meaning Saturday’s win will give Michigan 14 years’ worth of scoreboard.

No. 16 Michigan avoids complete meltdown at Illinois to get to 5-1

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Talk about a game of two halves. For the first 30 minutes of Saturday’s Big Ten contest, No. 16 Michigan (5-1, 3-1 Big Ten) jumped out to a 28-0 lead on Illinois (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten) before giving up a late score before halftime. It seemed harmless at first, but the Illini went on to score 18 more points on Michigan to push the Wolverines on the brink of a catastrophic loss. Fortunately for Michigan, the Wolverines responded and put the game away in the fourth quarter for a 42-25 road victory.

If there was a reason for concern for Jim Harbaugh and his program, it may have been the stale third-quarter performance. Michigan picked up just 11 yards in the third quarter and was out-gained 114-11. Illinois also chipped away at what was once a 28-0 lead by closing the gap to 28-17 heading to the fourth quarter. All of this, mind you, with Illinois playing with a backup quarterback in Matt Robinson. Former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters was ruled out for the game by the Illini.

Shea Patterson and Donovan Peoples-Jones connected for a short touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter to create some breathing room after the Illini made it a three-point game. The defense of the Wolverines then forced a turnover on the first play of the ensuing possession by Illinois. Michigan later put the game away for good by forcing another fourth-quarter fumble by the Illini at the Illinois one-yard line. Patterson picked up the short touchdown on the next play to create the 42-25 advantage.

Patterson completed half of his 22 pass attempts for 194 yards and three touchdowns as part of a four total-touchdown afternoon. Zach Charbonnet led the Michigan running game with 116 of the team’s 251 rushing yards.

Michigan will be back on the road next week for a primetime showdown with No. 10 Penn State. The Nittany Lions are in action tonight at Iowa and hope to bring their undefeated record home with them for a revenge game against the Wolverines. the last three meetings in this series have been dominating victories by the home team. Things won’t get any easier for Illinois next week. The Illini host No. 8 Wisconsin next week. The Badgers have won nine straight in the series and 13 of the previous 14 meetings since 2003.