Our Sunday Five breaks down five things from different categories about the game.
The Wolverines added a signature win to their resume, blowing out Wisconsin 38-13. Our Sunday Five Looks at the best of the best from the win.
Michigan’s five best players:
QB Shea Patterson
His passing numbers weren’t gaudy (14-of-21, 124 yards), but Patterson didn’t throw an interception and was excellent running the read option all game long. He finished with 90 rushing yards on 10 carries, most of which came on his 81-yard burst. Patterson did what he was asked to do and showed the read option is another element of this offense teams need to be ready for.
DB Josh Metellus
The junior tied for the team lead in solo and total tackles with three and five, respectively. He was active against the run and also contributed to a dominant showing by the Wolverines’ secondary. Metellus’ interception gave his offense good field position and prevented Wisconsin from quickly answering a Michigan scoring drive again. An all-around rock solid performance.
LB Devin Bush
Bush was vital in holding Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor to 101 rushing yards and racked up four tackles in the process. He also had one of Michigan’s two sacks in the game. If this defense is playing as well as it did against the Badgers, it’s practically a given Bush is a big reason why. He is the unit’s heart and soul.
RB Karan Higdon
It took him a while to get going, but Higdon went over 100 yards on the ground for a fifth game in a row that he’s played in. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry, his highest rate since week four against Nebraska. Once the Wolverines built a lead, they turned to Higdon and leaned on him to close out the game, which he did quite effectively.
DB David Long
Long broke up two passes and made a really nice play to tip the ball up for Josh Metellus to intercept. When a team completes 35 percent of its passes for 100 yards, the defensive backs usually have something to do with it. Long blanked receivers and along with his teammates, made life extremely difficult for Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook.
Michigan’s five best plays:
Shea Patterson 81-yard run
On the first play of the second quarter, Patterson exploded for an 81-yard run to set the Wolverines up five yards from the end zone. He got the defense to collapse on the read option and then made the right choice in keeping the ball. Karan Higdon eventually scored the touchdown to put Michigan up 7-0, but Patterson did all the work. With plays like this, teams have to respect his ability to hurt them on read options.
Josh Metellus Interception
When Wisconsin got the ball back after a Quinn Nordin field goal made it 10-7 Wolverines, Hornibrook was picked off on the first play of the drive. David Long made a terrific read, leaving his receiver to tip the ball up in the air. Metellus reacted and returned the pick 32 yards, setting up another field goal.
Lavert Hill pick-six
On a third-and-2 at the Wisconsin 23, Lavert Hill intercepted Hornibrook’s pass and returned it 25 yards to the end zone. Not only was the catch itself quite impressive, but the play effectively put the game to rest. It extended Michigan’s lead to 31-7 and squashed any hope of Wisconsin’s offense getting into a rhythm.
Dylan McCaffrey rushing touchdown
The first time he touched the ball, McCaffrey scored on a 44-yard run, showcasing his athletic ability. When he comes into the game, either with Patterson or to replace him, McCaffrey is establishing himself as a threat. Like Patterson, he can hurt defenses through the air and on the ground, which opens up all kinds of possibilities for Michigan’s offense.
Nick Eubanks 28-yard reception
Shea Patterson found Eubanks wide open on a wonderfully executed play that moved the ball to the Wisconsin 28. Patterson got good protection and patiently waited for routes to develop down the field. The completion was the key play in setting up the field goal that put Michigan back on top, 10-7. When a receiver is that open, it’s crucial teams to take advantage like the Wolverines did.
Five most interesting stats:
- This was Michigan’s first win over a top-15 opponent in seven tries.
The last top-15 victory was also against Wisconsin on October 1, 2016.
- Wisconsin went almost three full quarters without completing a pass.
The drought lasted from the 1:58 mark in the first quarter until less than five minutes remained in the game.
- The Wolverines only had one penalty called against them that was accepted.
They were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct following Lavert Hill’s pick-six.
- Shea Patterson’s 81-yard run was the team’s longest play from scrimmage this season.
It was also the second-longest run by a Michigan quarterback, trailing only Denard Robinson’s 87-yarder against Notre Dame.
- Michigan is 4-0 in the Big Ten heading into the Michigan State game for the second time in three years.
In 2016, the Wolverines entered Spartan Stadium 7-0 and beat Michigan State 32-23 before losing two of their final three conference games.
Five plays Michigan would like back:
Kendric Pryor 33-yard reverse touchdown
Following Michigan’s touchdown to open the scoring, Wisconsin marched 71 yards on four plays to tie the game at seven. Receiver Kendric Pryor scored the touchdown on a reverse from 33 yards out. The Wolverines defense lost focus and weren’t able to contain the play. Instead, Pryor got outside and raced down the sideline.
Danny Davis III 37-yard rush
Wisconsin’s longest play of the game came courtesy of another wide receiver reverse, this one by Davis. At their own 13-yard line and unable to generate anything through the air, this play moved the ball to midfield and gave the Badgers some life. Being more disciplined on reverses should be a point of emphasis for Michigan’s defense moving forward.
Shea Patterson fumble
While scrambling to avoid the rush on a first down at Wisconsin’s 32-yard line, Patterson had the ball knocked out of his hand. He didn’t do a good enough job securing it and paid a price. Michigan fell on the ball to prevent a turnover, but the damage was done. The Wolverines only got back to the 36 and missed a 54-yard field goal attempt.
Lack of execution deep in Wisconsin territory
On four different occasions, Michigan got the ball to the Wisconsin 24-yard line or even closer to the end zone and only managed field goal attempts. As well as the Wolverines played, the score could have easily been much more lopsided. It’s a small concern in a nearly flawless performance but worth keeping an eye on against Michigan State and Penn State.
Quinn Nordin missed field goal
The Wolverines drove down the field on their opening drive, eventually stalling at Wisconsin’s 23. Quinn Nordin missed the 41-yard field goal attempt that would have put Michigan on the board first. Missed field goals are part of college football, but this one was especially deflating. Michigan’s offense put together a promising first possession and ended up with nothing to show for it.
Five performances of note:
QB Artur Sitkowski (Rutgers):
Sitkowski completed two of his 16 passes for a total of eight yards. To make matters even worse, he was picked off four times by the Terrapins. It was the fourth time this season the freshman passed for under 100 yards in a game. He was replaced by Giovanni Rescigno near the end of the third quarter.
WR K.J. Hill (Ohio State):
The junior torched Minnesota’s secondary for 187 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions. One of the touchdowns was a one-handed snag that made the rounds on the internet. Coming into the game, Hill hadn’t caught more than 6 passes or recorded more than 95 receiving yards in any contest this season.
QB Nathan Stanley (Iowa):
Stanley eclipsed the 300-yard mark for the third time in four games, finishing with a career-high 320. He went 21-for-33 through the air and threw for six touchdowns, also a personal best. Stanley now has 10 touchdown passes in his last two outings. Through Iowa’s first four games, he had five total.
WR Flynn Nagel (Northwestern):
Nearly half of quarterback Clayton Thorson’s 455 passing yards came courtesy of Nagel, who caught 12 passes for 220 yards. He also registered his first two touchdown receptions of the season, including a 61-yarder. It was the second game in a row Nagel ended with double-digit receptions.
QB Brian Lewerke (Michigan State):
He only connected on 46 percent of his 52 throws, but Lewerke engineered a game-winning drive that ended on a Felton Davis III touchdown catch with 19 seconds left. The junior ended with 259 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He’s attempted 103 passes in his last two games.