Nico Collins

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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.

 

Shea Patterson-Nico Collins connection powers No. 13 Michigan to big win over Indiana

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This season may not quite have gone as expected in Ann Arbor but No. 13 Michigan continues to roll right along ever since halftime of their loss to Penn State. While an elusive Big Ten title is out of the question for the Wolverines, they have a chance to really turn some heads down the stretch after winning their fourth straight in convincing fashion by thrashing an Indiana team 39-14 that was in the top 25 not too long ago.

As has been the case during this run, the offense continues to click in impressive fashion under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. QB Shea Patterson was sharp and efficient in throwing for 366 yards and a whopping five touchdowns (one interception), with most of the damage coming when he hooked up with wideout Nico Collins. The latter was nearly unstoppable, hauling in just six passes but going for 165 yards in total with three scores.

On the ground, Zack Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins formed a decent one-two punch with a combined 90 yards but most of the offensive attack in the game went through the air.

The Hoosiers weren’t bad passing either, with Peyton Ramsey throwing for 217 yards and a touchdown despite getting shaken up early. The signal-caller also ran one in and had most of the pressure on the game on his shoulders with Stevie Scott limited to 54 yards and a TD rushing.

In the end though, the buzzsaw that UM has become couldn’t be slowed down as the dominance of the Wolverines continues in the series that has been competitive despite the lopsided nature of results. The last time IU prevailed against the maize and blue,  Jim Harbaugh was a rookie in the NFL and just a year removed from his own collegiate career wrapping up.

Now it’s time for the Michigan head coach to turn his attention to another long losing streak: namely snapping the team’s futility against rival Ohio State. The No. 2 Buckeyes have already clinched the Big Ten East title but will roll into the Big House next week firmly in the hunt for the top seed in the College Football Playoff and have looked as complete a team as anybody in the country this season after dispatching Penn State earlier in the day.

Such rivalry games can prove tricky however and the clash between the two conference superpowers sure looks a lot different after this weekend than it did even just a month ago.

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.

Michigan leading Iowa in defensive battle in Ann Arbor

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Maybe Michigan hasn’t quite gotten everything fixed on offense, or maybe Iowa is just a better opponent than Rutgers. Or maybe it’s a little from Column A and a little from Column B. Either way, Michigan leads Iowa 10-3 at the end of the first half.

Things could not have started too much better for Michigan. Although the offense was forced to punt after a short drive to start the game, Iowa’s Mekhi Sargent fumbled on Iowa’s first offensive snap and the Wolverines pounce don the ball at the Iowa 18-yard line. Michigan had to settle for just a field goal after the Hawkeyes defense came through with a big stop, but the offense still was slow out of the gate. Michigan took a 10-0 lead on their next offensive series with a Zach Charbonnet run from the two-yard line. A big pass from Shea Patterson to Nico Collins for a gain of 51 yards got the drive started.

Since Michigan took the 10-0 lead though, this has turned into a throwback Big Ten slugfest led by the defenses. Entering this week, Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley had not thrown an interception since last season. In the first half, he threw two.