Week 8 Review: #3 Michigan Wolverines 41 – Illinois Fighting Illini 8
Coming off the bye week Michigan had a trap game against the Fighting Illini at the Big House for Homecoming for the Wolverines. Michigan didn’t fall for the trap as they dominated the game on all three phases and looked like the number three team in the nation. The Wolverines were able to take the lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Check out how the game turned out below!
Wilton Speight had a solid day behind the offensive line. Speight ended 16 for 23 for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Speight was able to escape pressure at times and keep plays alive. He never made a risky throw and looked calm in the pocket. Speight is improving as the season goes on as he looks completely different from week one.
The rushing attack had 14…14 different people who would rush the ball. The main contributors was led by Karan Higdon who ended with eight carries for 106 yards and a touchdown. De’Veon Smith lead the team in carries with 18 for 76 yards and a touchdown. Ty Isaac had 10 carries for 35 yards and Khalid Hill had two carries for four yards and a touchdown. Chris Evans had only one carry for 16 yards and would leave the game with a possible concussion. Harbaugh would say after the game that “he seemed to be in a good place at halftime.” So with Evans looking like he will be back next week, and Drake Johnson possibly debuting next week, Michigan will be ready to pound the ball.
Leading the receiving game was Amara Darboh who had five catches for 99 yards. Jake Butt had three catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. Tyrone Wheatley saw more playing time and it payed off with two catches for 27 yards and a touchdown. Jehu Chesson had three catches for 44 yards. Grant Perry missed this game because of a “disciplinary issue,” so you got to wonder if he will be back next week or for longer as he is the number three wide receiver for the Wolverines.
The offensive line saw some changes as Ben Braden started at left tackle instead of left guard and freshman Ben Bredeson stared at left guard. The offensive line did allow two sacks and many tackles for loss, and the run game couldn’t get much behind them once the second half started. Overall, the line did play well and it was a good game for a new guard and tackle to gel together before a big rivalry game.
The defensive line had a test in to getting ready to stop the Illinois rushing attack. Illinois had a third string quarterback, so they needed to rely heavily on the run. Michigan held Illinois to 77 yards on 23 carries. Michigan was only able to get one sack as Maurice Hurst Jr. was able to get it. Taco Charlton had five tackles, Ryan Glasgow and Chris Wormley had three a piece.
The linebackers did a good job as well. Ben Gedeon lead with five tackles. Mike McCray had three tackles and would leave the game with an injury, but would return. Jabrill Peppers had a quiet day with only two tackles and on offense he had five carries for nine yards and a catch for five yards. He needed to impress many people today to show even more why he is a Heisman contender and this game didn’t help out.
Michigan was in lockdown coverage for majority of the game. Illinois had to start their third string quarterback in Jeff George Jr. who ended up going 4/15 for just 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Dymonte Thomas was the man with the interception as he was also able to get three tackles on the day. Jourdan Lewis had two tackles. Delano Hill had two tackles and he just missed a pass deflection as he jumped too early and the ball went over his hand and turned into six for Illinois.
Special Teams for the Wolverines was solid. Kenny Allen had two punts for 65 yards, one ending inside the 20 yard line. Allen also kicked two field goals and made them both, his longest from 27 yards out and he seems to have won the starting job back. Peppers had two kick returns for 58 yards and the punt return team was able to get another blocked punt. This blocked punt still ended up going around 10 to 15 yards, but Michigan was still able to get a hand on it and force it to change directions.
Week 8 Preview and Notes
Next week is a big week for Michigan Football fans. They take on in-state rival Michigan State Spartans at East Lansing. Michigan is looking to get revenge after last years loss as Michigan was up 23-21 left with less than 15 seconds on the clock and they botched the punt, causing a turnover which Michigan State would pick up and return for a touchdown to end the game. Fans and players are still hurt after that loss and you have to believe they will come out harder than ever against the Spartans.
Michigan State is struggling this year, starting off 2-4 and is taking on Maryland on Saturday night. No matter what there record is though, they will be trying their best to beat Michigan and upset those fans once again.
Other notes to talk about: Alabama beat Texas A&M 33-14, so they will remain the number one seed. Ohio State still has to play Penn State, so if they lose Michigan will move up to the number two seed. Wisconsin beat Iowa 17-9, so their chance to be a wildcard team in the playoff race is still alive. Nebraska beat Purdue 27-14 as they should move up in the rankings with Texas A&M losing.