Paul Bunyan is back in Ann Arbor

Since 2008, Michigan State have OWNED the Wolverines.  The Spartans are ten and four against the Wolverines over the last 14 seasons.  The Paul Bunyan trophy has rested in East Lansing for the last two years.  It is finally back where it belongs, in Ann Arbor.


Smash Mouth Football

Saturday Night’s tilt was a classic Coach Harbaugh Big Ten smash-mouth football game.  Smothering defense and a dominating run game were the hallmarks of the Wolverines victory against the Spartans.  Rushing for over 250 yards, the Wolverine offense was led by running back Blake Corum.  The Spartan defense effectively limited the Wolverine explosive plays.  However, Corum still rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries.


Passing Grades

Michigan’s passing attack was nothing to write home about.  JJ McCarthy is still a work in progress in the pass game.  The play callers protect him to a certain degree.  However, give credit to a stingy Spartan defense which did an excellent job of covering up the Wolverine receivers forcing McCarthy to scramble for 50 yards.  Those scramble yards are important because they kept the chains moving for the Wolverines.  Tight End Luke Schoonmaker was McCarthy’s favorite target.   As the Spartans locked up the Wolverine parameter playmakers, the middle of the field opened up for Schoonmaker to exploit.


Defense Dominates

The Wolverine defense continued their dominate play, holding the Spartans to a paltry 37 yards rushing.  They forced a turnover late as well.  In the first half they stopped the Spartans on two key fourth down attempts.  The second was on the Michigan 5-yard line and the Wolverines stuffed the Spartan rush attempt forcing a 2-yard loss.  This turned out to be the turning point in the game for the Spartans.  With the score 10-7 in favor of Michigan, the Spartans needed a touchdown, but they could have kicked a field goal to tie.  Instead, they turned the ball over on downs, and the Wolverines drove the length of the field to kick a field goal just before half time.


Needs Improvement

If there is an area where the Wolverines need to improve its their red zone offense.  They made three trips into the redzone and settled for field goals.  The Wolverines drove the ball to the Spartan 21-yard line and settled for a field goal.  Lastly, they were forced to kick a field goal from the Spartan’s 36-yard line.  The Wolverines only completed one length of the field drive with a touchdown.  Their second touchdown came when the Spartans punt team turned the ball over on their own eight-yard line early in the fourth quarter.  Two plays later and the Michigan running attack scored.

Coach Harbaugh is not afraid to kick field goals.  Thankfully he has a Lou Groza winner banging them thru consistently.  Kicking field goals is key in tight football games and the points gradually add up.  However, the Wolverines need to start practicing situational football with the Buckeye’s on the schedule.  Five trips to the redzone area, netting only 15 points will not defeat the Buckeyes.  That could have been 35 points instead of a mere 15.  The Wolverines have the playmakers to get creative.  Perhaps they are holding their cards close to the vest.  Don’t hold them too close though.  There is no substitute for live game reps.  For now, Paul Bunyan rests in Ann Arbor.  On to Rutgers!

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