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Shea Patterson says he chose Michigan for chance to compete for national title

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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?

Transferring Michigan TE Ian Bunting moves on to Cal

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As it turns out, one Pac-12 football program has proven to be the beneficiary of a Big Ten transfer.

In a release late Tuesday night, Cal announced that Ian Bunting has joined Justin Wilcox‘s squad after signing a financial aid agreement with the university’s athletic department.  Bunting comes to Berkeley as a graduate transfer from Michigan, which means he’ll be eligible to play for the Golden Bears in 2018.

The upcoming season will be the tight end’s final season of collegiate eligibility.

“Ian has played college football at the highest level and on its biggest stages for the last three seasons, and he has the ability to make an impact on our football program immediately,” Wilcox said in a statement. “He is a versatile athlete that we expect to contribute to both our running and passing games with his blocking and pass-catching skills.”

In late January of this year, Bunting took to Twitter to announce his transfer from U-M.

During his time with the Wolverines, Bunting, a four-star 2014 signee, caught 11 passes for 124 yards. Just one of those receptions and six of the yards came this past season. In 2016, Bunting started the only seven games of his U-M career.

Mackey Award for nation’s top TE goes to Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews

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This one, unlike late last month, will likely sit a lot better with Baker Mayfield.

A pair of seniors, Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli and Penn State’s Mike Gesicki, along with one junior, Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews, were selected as finalists for the 2017 Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s top tight end.  Wednesday, it was the youngster taking home the honor as Andrews was named as the 2017 Mackey Award winner.

Andrews, the first Sooner to win the award, will receive the actual trophy during the Home Depot College Football Awards show Thursday night.

The Mackey was first awarded in 2000, going to Purdue’s Tim StrattonJake Butt of Michigan was last year’s honoree.

Controversial replay, poor punt coverage costs Michigan in first half vs. Wisconsin

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It’s a good old-fashioned defensive battle in the Big Ten between Michigan and Wisconsin, and if not for a couple of plays going the wrong way, Michigan could very well be in the lead. Instead, the Wolverines and Badgers are locked in a 7-7 draw at halftime as the defenses have set the tone on both sides of the sideline so far today.

Wisconsin’s lone score came on a punt return by Nick Nelson in the first quarter, and it came after making a usually costly decision to pick the ball up to make a return. He managed to avoid a disaster and found pay dirt for the first score of the game.

Just when it appeared Michigan was about to get some point son the scoreboard with a touchdown, a video replay from the Big Ten officials upheld a controversial incompletion to Donovan Peoples-Jones. The play was ruled incomplete but the video review appeared to show the receiver get his left foot down just before the right foot touched out of bounds. This may have been a case of not feeling the video evidence was indisputable to overturn the original call on the field. Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters lost the football on a fumble while trying to pick up an extra yard near the end zone, giving the Badgers the ball deep in their own end with a 7-0 lead preserved.

Michigan did manage to get in the end zone in the first half though, and there would be no review to overturn the result. Ben Mason powered his way across the goal line at the end of a seven-play, 84-yard drive. Still, Michigan fans have to be a bit upset about that non-touchdown call by the replay booth. We’ll see if that comes back to haunt Michigan in the second half or not.

Michigan has out-gained Wisconsin 170-99 at the half. The Badgers have just four first downs.

No. 2 Penn State exacts revenge on No. 19 Michigan, advances to showdown vs. No. 6 Ohio State

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The trajectory of Penn State’s program changed with last season’s loss to Michigan. That 49-10 drubbing in Ann Arbor dropped the Nittany Lions to 2-2 on the season and 2-6 dating back to the close of the 2015 season and furthered the narrative that James Franklin couldn’t compete against the elite of the Big Ten.

Penn State is now the elite of the Big Ten. The No. 2 Nittany Lions entered Saturday night 15-1 since that blowout loss to Michigan, and improved to 16-1 with a 42-13 defeat of No. 19 Michigan.

Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead pulled out a wrinkle on the Nittany Lions’ second play from scrimmage, and it worked to perfection. Quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley shifted pre-snap, and Barkley took the direct snap and raced 69 yards untouched for a touchdown.

After forcing a three-and-out, Penn State moved 78 yards in four plays, keyed by a 35-yard rainbow heave from McSorley to tight end Mike Gesicki. Barkley scored his second touchdown of the first quarter one play later, a 15-yard burst around the right side. 

But Penn State’s offense stalled from there. The Lions’ next possession ended in a McSorley interception, and the possession after that was a three-and-out that lost nine yards. Penn State penetrated Michigan territory midway through the second quarter, but Barkley dropped a wheel route that would’ve put the Lions inside the red zone. Penn State turned the ball over on downs two plays later.

Meanwhile, Michigan turned McSorley’s interception into an 11-play, 59-yard touchdown drive capped by a 1-yard Karan Higdon run on fourth-and-goal. Quinn Nordin missed the ensuing PAT.

After the turnover on downs, Michigan marched 67 yards on a series of John O’Korn plays — a 14-yard rush, an 18-yard strike to Donovan Peoples-Jones, and 23 yards to Kekoa CrawfordTy Isaac powered in from six yards out to pull the Wolverines within one with 1:45 to play before the half. 

Threatened for the first time of the evening, Penn State ended its streak of three straight unsuccessful drives with a 7-play, 75-yard march that consumed only 52 seconds. McSorley accounted for 68 yards on the drive, including a 3-yard rush to put the home team back up eight.

That momentum continued into the second half. The Lions opened the second half with a 9-play, 80-yard march that closed with McSorley’s second touchdown run and, after a three-and-out, Penn State’s backfield battery put the game out of reach with a 42-yard touchdown connection from McSorley to Barkley. McSorley closed the night hitting 17-of-26 throws for 282 yards with a touchdown and an interception and 11 carries for 76 yards and three scores. Barkley rushed 15 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns with three grabs for 53 yards and a touchdown. As a team, Penn State racked up 506 yards of total offense, more than double the 223.8 yards per game Michigan’s FBS-leading defense entered the night surrendering — and Franklin allowed the clock to expire with Penn State inside the Michigan 10-yard line and three timeouts in his pocket, so it could have been worse.

Trailing 35-13 early in the fourth quarter, Jim Harbaugh put together a last-chance drive to claw back in the game, but O’Korn was sacked on fourth down near midfield. McSorley’s third touchdown run of the night, a 9-yarder with 7:53 to play, added the exclamation point.

The win pushed Penn State to 7-0 on the season (4-0 Big Ten) and advanced the Nittany Lions into the game of the year in the Big Ten and perhaps the entire college football regular season: a visit to No. 6 Ohio State next Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox).

Michigan dropped to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in Big Ten play. Trailing Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State by two games and ceding the tie-breaker to the first two, the 2017 season officially takes on “rebuilding year” status as the Wolverines are now playing for positioning among the Tampa-Orlando-Jacksonville bowl games and 2018 preparation.

The Nittany Lions, though, are playing for much more, and they have Michigan to thank for that.