Wolverines run over in first road game
Written by Matt Pargoff   

 

Hoping to utilize an early bye week to iron out weaknesses displayed in the first two game, Michigan headed to Wisconsin for the start of Big Ten play on Saturday. Instead of the significant improvement that the Wolverines hoped to reach, they saw a complete unraveling from start to finish, badly outplayed in a 35-14 loss.

Struggling out of the gate defensively, Michigan surrendered a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, which featured 11 runs from the Badgers. The Wolverines appeared primed to answer quickly after Shea Patterson found Ronnie Bell on a 68-yard reception, but a fumble from Ben Mason at the Wisconsin four erased positive momentum.

After that early threat, Michigan found little success on offense, failing to put points on the board until the closing minutes of the third quarter. But while the offense struggle, it was the failings of the defense that took many by surprise, with Wisconsin scoring touchdowns on five of their first seven possessions.

The Badgers converted on three fourth down attempts in the first half to aide in that success, needing to convert each by three or fewer yards. Wisconsin racked up 359 rushing yards, while Michigan managed just 40 yards on the ground.

 “They outplayed us offensively and defensively. The things they did really well, we were unable to do,” said Jim Harbaugh. “They blocked better, they tackled better. They had a better plan and executed it extremely well today.”

Michigan continued to struggle with turnovers, with the offense handing the ball over a total of four times.

Patterson started the game, but gave way to Dylan McCaffrey in the second half for a time before McCaffrey was knocked out of the game on a hit to the head. Patterson completed 14 of 32 passes for 219 yards and two scores, while McCaffrey found his mark on three of eight for 40 yards.

Bell pulled into two receptions for 81 yards, having a dazzling diving catch in the first half wiped out by a controversial ruling on replay. Nico Collins and Tarik Black got into the mix in the fourth quarter, with Collins pulling in three receptions for 66 yards and Black grabbing three for 57.

The game marked Donovan Peoples-Jones’ first action of the season, having missed the previous outings to injury. He pulled in one reception for five yards on Michigan’s first touchdown of the game.

The Wolverines will go back to the drawing board with what should be an easier challenge, playing host to Rutgers next week at noon eastern on Big Ten Network.

 
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