Grades Are In: Second-Half Performance Boosts Running Backs & Offensive Line

With a dominant second-half performance on the ground, Michigan's running backs and offensive line earned high marks.

Grades are assigned on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the best.

Quarterback - 4

As a passer, Patterson didn't have his best outing, throwing for 124 yards (his second-lowest output of the year) but he did complete 70.0 percent of his passes and didn't turn the ball over. He did take two bad sacks, but in both cases he created positive yards on the following play - an 11-yard completion to Nico Collins and a seven-yard run -- setting up a pair of field goals for placekicker Quinn Nordin.

Patterson's legs were critical in the win, his 81-yard run on the first play of the second quarter leading to U-M's first touchdown and changing the complexion of the contest, by forcing Wisconsin to account for him. He picked up first downs on 3 of 6 runs, and created sparks when the Wolverines needed one.

Season Grade: 4.3.

Running Back - 4

Senior Karan Higdon's first half: seven carries for 11 yards, 1.6 yards per rush. In the second half, with Michigan utilizing more of a zone-running scheme, Higdon went off, rushing 12 times for 94 yards (7.8 YPC) with a touchdown. He picked up his seventh rush of 20 yards or more (a Big Ten best), and moved the chains on 4 of 12 second-half attempts. Higdon finished with 105 yards, his fifth straight game of 100 yards or more. Juniors Chris Evans and Tru Wilson (4.0 yards per attempt) also contributed to the cause while fifth-year senior fullback Jared Wangler performed well as a blocker.

Season Grade: 4.0.

Wide Receiver - 3

Weird game for the wide receivers, who combined for just eight catches for 72 yards. Patterson wanted to go to them, as Michigan ran a significant amount of play-action, but the Badger defensive backfield was disciplined and the receivers failed to create separation down the field. They will need to perform at a higher level against Michigan State this weekend.

Season Grade: 3.6.

Tight End - 3

After a season-best contribution against Maryland, catching 10 balls for 134 yards, the tight ends were largely ignored in this one, catching only two balls for 33 yards. Junior Zach Gentry had his quietest day of the year, with a single reception for five yards, but remains a go-to target. Junior Nick Eubanks had a 28-yard reception and would probably be taking more reps away from classmate Sean McKeon if he was a better blocker. This is an uber-talented group but has been up and down this season with its production and blocking.

Season Grade: 3.4.

Offensive Line - 4

Take out Patterson's 81-yard run (and the sack-adjusted 23 yards he lost by taking three bad sacks - takedowns attributed to Patterson and not the OL) and Michigan rushed for 25 yards on 12 first-half attempts (2.1 yards per carry).

The unit was solid in pass pro all game, allowing just three QB pressures on 24 drop-backs, but it wasn't until the second half that the front five exerted its will against Wisconsin. Using more of a zone-blocking scheme that allowed for cutback lanes, the line pushed the Badgers three and four yards beyond the line of scrimmage after the snap, and the ground game came alive, with 237 yards on 32 carries (7.4 yards per rush).

It was an epic second-half performance that we're all hoping will translate to 60-minute success against the Spartans.

Season Grade: 3.4.

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