Let's get all of the "buts" out of the way:
- "But it was a home game"
- "But it was raining"
- "But Notre Dame was overrated"
The Michigan Wolverines shocked the nation last night after putting up 45 points on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Nobody saw that performance coming from this offense, especially me.
A couple weeks ago after narrowly beating Iowa, with the offense not being able to muster a single point in the second half, Jim Harbaugh said that the offense was "hitting its stride".
It was the most irrational thing he'd ever said.
The offense was terrible. They couldn't hold on to the ball, they couldn't capitalize in the red zone, and it was unexplainably predictable for an RPO scheme.
Last week against Penn St., it looked like things actually did start to click. Outside of running inside zone with charbonnet 50,000 times, the offense was good. If Ronnie Bell would have held on to the ball on the last pass by Patterson, Michigan would be a one loss team looking to squeak into the Playoff.
Despite the loss, they were at least on the right track. Last night, in the pouring rain, the Wolverines hit their stride.
The offensive line man handled the Fighting Irish. They finally looked like a poised, veteran group. Freshman Zach Charbonnet, often hesitant when running zone, found the holes quickly and exploded downhill for 74 yds and two touchdowns. Hassan Haskins broke out for 149 rushing yds. of his own and the Wolverines out-rushed the Fighting Irish 303-47.
The run game, has arrived. Now let's talk about Shea Patterson.
Patterson Over Book
Oh I've waited for this game, hoping to pull this tweet out for this article. Let's rewind the Twitter tape to week 1 shall we?
Ya really hate to see it.
I think Ian Book is a really good Quarterback, and I think he has been more consistent than Patterson.
However, the stats don't lie.
Ian Book finished the night 8/25, for 79 yds. and one touchdown. A good chunk of that coming from a drive that was heavily aided by a phantom pass interference penalty after Book was intercepted. The stat line could have been much worse.
Shea Patterson went 6/12 for 100 yds. and two passing scores. On the ground, he actually decided to keep it on the option, breaking off a 22 yd. run at one point.
The numbers aren't staggering, but considering the monsoon in the first half, Patterson played really well. And oftentimes the greatest play to make in the rain, is a safe one.
The defense played lights out, from start to finish.
As much criticism as Don Brown gets for being stubborn, his defense came to play yesterday.
They held Notre Dame to 180 total yds. and only 47 of those came on the ground.
All week long, the narrative on the Fighting Irish was that they were a "physical" team. Brian Kelly gets the most out of his team, and they almost beat Georgia!
Until the linebacker core came ready to play.
Cam McGrone is a name you need to familiarize yourself with, if you haven't already done so. He led the Wolverines with 12 total tackles on the night, helping shut down the run game. It's something we haven't seen since Devin Bush left to go to the NFL.
The defensive line finished with 5 QB hurries, and 2 sacks on the night. In Book's defense, he didn't have much time to throw.
It may not have been a win over the Ohio State Buckeyes, but you cannot discredit the signature rivalry win for Jim Harbaugh.
In a season that looked like a lost cause, the Wolverines came out fired up, and shut the Fighting Irish down.
Notre Dame was favorited, they were the #7 team in the country, and were in the Playoff hunt.
Until the Wolverines ended that last night.
Harbaugh sent out Dylan McCaffery in the 4th quarter to get some reps. He decided to throw the ball on first down, and ended up throwing a touchdown when the game was already won.
In the weeks prior, I wondered if Harbaugh had lost his competitive edge. It was good to see him fired up last week, and for his pettiness to return last night.
I don't know if the Wolverines can upset the Buckeyes at the end of the year, but I can assure you that Jim Harbaugh is back.
The guy that shook a hand too hard, the guy that throws headsets and the guy that runs up the score.
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