No. 3 Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) had absolutely no problem with their latest opponent, Maryland (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten). The Wolverines picked up a 59-3 victory over Maryland to remain undefeated this season and also assuring Michigan fans another week of steep discounts on steak dinners.
A week after handling Michigan State, it has become more and more clear there is almost nobody in the Big Ten that can slow down Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines. Maryland was down 45-0 before managing to put a measly three points on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Can we just fast forward to Michigan-Ohio State already?
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight had a big afternoon, completing 19 of 24 passes for 362 yards and two touchdowns and a rushing touchdown before getting the rest of the game off. Jehu Chesson (112 yards, 1 TD) and Amara Darboh (77 yards, 1 TD) and Jake Butt (76 yards) were Speight’s top targets. De'Veon Smith carried the football 19 times for 114 yards and three scores.
Maryland lost quarterback Perry Hills to an apparent injury in the first half, and Caleb Rowe was unable to lead the offense against Michigan to much success. Rowe was picked off twice and completed just 12 of 23 pass attempts for 203 yards. Hills became the ninth quarterback this seaosn knocked out of a game by Michigan’s defense. An arguably late hit on Hills was uncalled by Big Ten officials in this one.
Michigan may face an interesting challenge next week when the Wolverines leave the state of Michigan for just the second time all season. Michigan plays at Iowa next Saturday night. The Hawkeyes will be coming off a primetime road game at Penn State. Iowa has held four opponents to fewer than 10 points in a game this season, although Michigan will pose the biggest challenge to the Hawkeyes they have faced all season.
Maryland’s quest for postseason eligibility will not likely be very easy the next couple of weeks. Maryland hosts Ohio State next week and travels to Nebraska the following week. Maryland’s bowl hopes may just have to be on the line in the regular season finale at home against Rutgers.
Can we just fast-forward Michigan’s season to the part where they play at Ohio State? The Wolverines are easily on their way to a 9-0 record this afternoon with a 35-0 halftime lead on Maryland in Michigan Stadium. Jabrill Peppers has once again played a small role in the offense in addition to his defensive assignments and special teams duties, but Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight has been lighting up Maryland so far.
Speight has completed 13 of 16 passes for 292 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He has also rushed for a touchdown. De'Veon Smith has rushed for 49 yards and a score. Michigan has already accumulated 402 yards of offense (and 17 first downs) to Maryland’s 143 offensive yards.
Michigan opened the game with a 10-play scoring drive traveling 91 yards. A game-opening kickoff return to the Michigan 49-yard line by Peppers was wiped off due to an illegal block. Michigan even managed to put together over 100 yards of offense on the opening drive due to a personal foul on Kyle Kalis. Amara Darboh caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Speight to finish off the opening drive with a score.
Maryland quarterback Perry Hills left the game to be examined by medical trainers in the first half, leaving the Maryland offense in the hands of Caleb Rowe.
No. 2 Michigan (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) overcame an early fight by Michigan State (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten) but created some separation in the second half and slammed the door shut on the Spartans in the second half for a 32-23 win. The win keeps Michigan undefeated on the season and on top of the Big Ten East Division and puts the Spartans on very thin ice as it relates to postseason opportunities. It was Michigan’s first win in Spartan Stadium since 2007 and most-lopsided win since 1997 (23-7).
Michigan State’s running game proved to be effective in the first half, but the lack of any threat in the passing game ended up being part of the reason the Spartans could not keep up with Michigan. LJ Scott rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort, but Mark Dantonio‘s game-time decision to go with Tyler O’Connor resulted in a 4-for-10 for 34-yard afternoon, with an interception. Damion Terry and Brian Lewerke would get some time on the field as well, bu the damage was already done by the Wolverines.
Michigan’s offense was just unstoppable, scoring points on all of their first-half possessions to take a commanding 27-10 lead into the halftime break. The box score may not reveal a fantastic performance by Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight, but he still passed for over 200 yards and found a way to connect with Amara Darboh for some big gains. Michigan spread the ball around well on the ground too, including De'Veon Smith (2 TDs), Eddie McDoom and even Jabrill Peppers (1 TD, and one two-point conversion fumble returned for two Michigan points). Michigan also just played a cleaner game, with fewer penalties and slightly more success on third down than the Spartans. It all helped put Michigan State’s clock management plan to the scrap heap.
A week after Ohio State slipped up on the road against Penn State, Michigan appeared to leave little doubt who the best team in the Big Ten is as we move into November. It’s the Wolverines right now. Next week Michigan will return to Michigan Stadium and will be a heavy favorite against Maryland. That should leave Michigan at 9-0 heading into the final three games, which will include road trips to Iowa and Ohio State. So there is still work to be done, but Michigan has every reason to feeling confident about their chances right now.
Michigan State is now in serious danger of failing to reach the postseason at all. Today’s loss dropped the Spartans to the six-loss mark, meaning they are just one loss away from being ineligible for postseason play under NCAA rules. Michigan State still has games to play against Ohio State and Penn State in the final two games of the season after getting Illinois and Rutgers in the next two weeks. The last time a power conference champion failed to reach the postseason the following season was in 2010, when Texas took the Big 12 crown and played for the BCS National Championship in 2009 and went just 5-7 the following season. Ironically enough, Texas lost in that championship game to Alabama, the same program that flushed Michigan State right out of the postseason last January.
For the second straight week, No. 5 Michigan was hardly forced to put their foot on the gas at home. The Wolverines easily improved to 2-0 this season with a 51-14 victory over visiting UCF (1-1). This one was over just as soon as Jim Harbaugh was hired and UCF went 0-12 last season.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight turned in a highly productive afternoon, completing 25 of 37 pass attempts for 312 yards and four touchdowns. Amara Darboh led all players with 111 receiving yards and a pair of touchdown grabs, and Jehu Chesson added 84 receiving yards. Tight end Jake Butt hauled in two touchdowns as well, and picked up 86 receiving yards.
The Wolverines did not get a whole bunch of yards on the ground, which should be a credit to UCF’s defensive effort. De'Veon Smith led the ground game with 38 rushing yards on 10 attempts. Of course, Michigan didn’t need a whole lot out of the running game on this day.
Michigan will remain home next week when they play their first power conference opponent. Colorado of the Pac-12 makes their way to Ann Arbor after picking up a win in the season opener against Colorado State. The Buffs had Idaho State at home today, so they should bring a 2-0 record with them next week to Michigan Stadium. It will be Michigan’s final non-conference game before hosting Penn State in the Big Ten opener the following week.
UCF clearly needs to find a quarterback because neither Nick Patti or Justin Holman were very effective. Each completed three passes out of 11 attempts for a combined total of 56 yards.
UCF will look to bounce back and learn from some experiences in this game next week when they take on another Big Ten team, this time at home. UCF hosts Maryland, who will be making a second straight trip down to the Sunshine State after beating FIU in Miami Friday night.
Year one of the Jim Harbaugh Era in Ann arbor will see Michigan playing for the Big Ten East Division next week in Michigan Stadium. That is the situation after No. 12 Michigan (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) took to the road and left Penn State (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) with a 28-16 win.
On fourth and goal from the two-yard line, Penn State elected to kick a field goal while down 21-13 with roughly eight minutes to play. Michigan made them pay for that decision. After the short field goal was blocked but still managed to sneak in for three points, Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff to the Penn State 4-0-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Jehu Chesson swung to the left side of the field and ran down the left sideline for a 20-yard gain to put the Wolverines in the red zone in the blink of an eye. De'Veon Smith capped the drive with a short touchdown run by leaping and extending the ball over a pile for a decisive touchdown. Penn State went four-and-out on their next, and final, possession and Michigan ran the clock out for the final three minutes and change because Penn State used its final timeout with over five minutes to play in the game.
It was a long afternoon for Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed just 13 of his 31 pass attempts and was roughed up from start to finish, especially in the second half. Penn State converted just three of 14 third-down situations (Michigan converted seven of 14) and the offense ended with just 207 yards of offense. Freshman running back Saquon Barkley had 68 rushing yards, but 56 came on a long run on the game’s opening drive. Too many times Penn State went for a big pass and hoped to come down with the football, and Michigan would have taken that strategy all day long. Michigan was rarely burned by a big play.
Michigan’s quarterback, Jake Rudock, was much more efficient and effective, completing 25 of 38 pass attempts for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Michigan also had to overcome discipline issues as well. Michigan was flagged for 13 penalties amounting for 117 yards. Michigan also had two turnovers in the game.
Michigan remains in position to win the Big Ten East Division, but it still needs to beat Ohio State next week and hope Michigan State takes a loss thanks to an earlier head-to-head going the way of the Spartans earlier this season. Ohio State hosts Michigan State today, and Michigan State will host Penn State next week. Odds are Michigan fans will actually be pulling for the Buckeyes here, which has to feel a bit weird.