Week 5 Review: #4 Michigan Wolverines 14 – #8 Wisconsin Badgers 7
The first true test for Michigan came today in the form of the#8 ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Michigan played stout defense and while the offense struggled, it did enough to win the game for the Wolverines. Michigan almost lost this game due to kicking, which hasn’t been solid for Michigan in years. Luckily for the kickers, the defense for the Wolverines stepped up big and the offense was able to score one more time. Let’s check out how this all went down.
Wilton Speight had a tough time finding some open receivers, but was stable and did enough to help lead this team to a big win. He ended 20/32 for 219 yards and a game winning touchdown. He also threw his second interception of the year, as Wisconsin possibly dropped two more, only getting one was a blessing in disguise. Speight did get pressured a lot though, getting sacked five times.
Rushing the ball was difficult for Michigan against a tough Wisconsin defensive line. De’Veon Smith lead with 17 carries for 66 yards. Chris Evans and Ty Isaac both had eight carries, Evans with 34 yards and Isaac with 48. Khalid Hill ran two times for two yards and his fifth touchdown of the season.
Receiving had a quiet day. Wisconsin has a dangerous secondary that had six interceptions coming into the game, so Speight had to be careful. Amara Darboh lead the team with six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. Jehu Chesson had five catches for 52 yards and Jake Butt ended with three catches for 31 yards.
The offensive line had its worst game of the year. First they allowed Speight to get sacked five times, which can not happen against better teams. The rushing attack couldn’t get going, making drives end quickly for the offense and forcing the tired defense to go back out there. Finally, to add insult to injury the starting left tackle Grant Newsome would leave the game with a knee injury. He waved off the cart and had help walking off the field. It could be a serious injury, but no information has come out about it.
The defensive line had a good part in helping stop the Badgers offense. They couldn’t get the run game going, ending with 28 carries for 71 yards. They also were able to get 3 sacks. Ryan Glasgow lead the charge with five tackles and a sack. Chris Wormley would get four tackles and a sack as Taco Charlton had two tackles and a sack.
Linebackers were probably the weakest group today. They helped stop the run at times, but coverage did suffer. Ben Gedeon had six tackles but let his man get open enough for a touchdown. Mike McCray had five tackles, but a penalty on a punt attempt. Jabrill Peppers was very quiet today, ending with just three tackles.
The secondary for Michigan is where they shined. Channing Stribling had a great game, getting two tackles along with two big interceptions. The true play of the game on the defense was easily Jourdan Lewis making an incredible one-handed interception to help lock the Wolverines win. He also had four tackles, being able to stop the running back or receiver in their tracks. Dymonte Thomas had four tackles as well.
Special Teams almost cost the Wolverines the game. Kenny Allen missed two field goals, one from 31 the other from 43. Harbaugh pulled him and brought in Ryan Tice. Tice would miss his attempt from 40 yards out. While Allen couldn’t kick field goals, he could punt the ball. He ended with seven for 326 yards, four of them ending inside the 20 yard line. Peppers was only able to return three balls today. One kick return for 14 yards, two punt returns for 19 yards.
Week 6 Preview and Notes
Michigan is going to have a kicking competition according to Jim Harbaugh. That will be one to watch because it could end up costing or winning them games this season. This isn’t a good problem to have this late in the season.
Michigan plays its first road game of the year next week as they travel to Rutgers, who got smacked by Ohio State 58-0 today. It is the final game before a bye week for the Wolverines. Michigan shouldn’t have a problem with Rutgers, but you can never say never in college football.
Overall this was a good win for the Wolverines. Michigan needed to prove they can beat tough opponents and they did just that. It wasn’t pretty and it should have been by more, but a win is a win in college football. Michigan has a chance to jump up in the polls to number three if Louisville beats Clemson. If Clemson wins, Michigan stays put at four.
UPDATE: Clemson defeated Louisville after the time of this writing.