Sometimes you just take a win any way you can get it. That was one of those games for No. 14 Michigan (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) Saturday at Northwestern (1-3, 2-0 Big Ten). After going down 17-0 in the first half, Michigan scored 20 unanswered points to get out of Evanston with a 20-17 win.
Karan Higdon‘s five-yard touchdown run with 4:06 to play allowed Michigan fans to briefly exhale after a long and gutsy game saw so many self-inflicted hurdles in the form of penalties and early miscues from a slow-starting offense. Higdon rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the game, continuing to prove to be a valuable asset in the Michigan offense this season.
Also proving to be a valuable member of the offense was quarterback Shea Patterson, who also tossed in some clutch plays both with his arm and his legs. Among the key plays provided by Patterson was a run on 3rd and 6 to get out of pressure and convert a big first down. That run was followed by a 22-yard pass to Zach Gentry to put the Wolverines in great position to run in for a touchdown moments later, with Higdon doing the honors.
In the third quarter, Rashan Gary left the game for a brief period of time. When he returned to the game at the start of the fourth quarter, he was wearing a brace on his right arm. The pressure he created, along with Chase Winovich, wore on Northwestern’s offensive efforts as the game wore on. Michigan clamped down on the Northwestern offense as Clayton Thorson went from making early safe and efficient passes to being put in a position to be asked to do a little more.
It wasn’t pretty, but Michigan will surely take it and move one. Jim Harbaugh will have plenty to look over form the game film in this one as the schedule continues and big games remain on the horizon. But getting to October without taking a second loss in September is much better than going into the new month having dropped two before even playing games against Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio State. This was the first time Michigan overcame a 17-point deficit to win under Harbaugh.
Michigan returns home to play Maryland. Northwestern will play at Michigan State next week.