Finally, four years of agony and torture has ended. By the hands of Drew Dileo and the leg of Brendan Gibbons, Michigan advanced to 3-0 in the Big Ten and, looking at the bigger picture, won the program's 900th game, the most in college football.
The first thing I will say about this game is I seriously underestimated the ability of Spartan QB Andrew Maxwell. I gave him zero credit and almost looked like a fool for it -- almost. Without the play of Maxwell, Michigan State would not have been in that game.
But moving on.
What's the Dileo? It's been a common theme throughout this season to not really have the same WR step up in back to back weeks, but that's okay as long as the job gets done. This past Saturday, it was Drew Dileo.
Dileo seemed to make one big play after another and even had the catch that put Brendan Gibbons in comfortable range for the game winning field goal. Aside from that, he had 3 other snags on the day, totalling 92 yards. It was a special performance that will be acknowledged for some time to come.
Denard Robinson threw the ball 29 times in this game. To get some perspective on that, that's 2 more passes than he attempted in the last 2 games combined. But fans and coaches are okay with this because, aside from a Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half that was picked off, Robinson has now gone 3 straight games without a real interception. And that's great news for this Wolverine offense moving forward.
Robinson didn't lead the most flawless offense on Saturday, but, as Jordan Kovacs put it after the game, "At the end of the day, we did enough to win." Just enough.
If you would have told me that Michigan would not score a touchdown and still beat Michigan State, I wouldn't have believed you. That's a rare feat in college football these days, but it exploited a defense that is capable of almost completely shutting down an opponent.
Other than being stopped consistently by Sparty, the only other thing I noticed about the Michigan offense was zero carries for Thomas Rawls. And the thing of it is, Al Borges made a comment earlier in the week on how Rawls had earned himself more playing time.
It was a questionable decision to say the least, but I'll go back to Kovacs. They did just enough to win.
Switching gears to the defense, I'm not sure if Greg Mattison's squad could get any more impressive right now. Through the conference games, Michigan has only given up a total of 23 points. Do the math, and you'll find that's an average of 7.6 points per game.
One play that really stood out to me was Jake Ryan getting off the left side and taking down Maxwell for the sack. It really summed up that whole game. I thought it was a great testimony to the preaching of Mattison on the importance of gang tackling and swarming to the ball. And wouldn't you know, he knew what he was talking about.
The most impressive stat for the Wolverine defense on Saturday: 68. That's how many yards they allowed to Le'Veon Bell, who was averaging 131 yards per game going into the contest. That's why Andrew Maxwell had to step up in the way he did. The Michigan front did a tremendous job of keeping Bell in check and not allowing him to break anything open.
Lesson Of The Game
On Saturday, we learned that the Wolverines do not live and die on the arm and legs of Denard Robinson. No matter the score, Michigan won without relying on Robinson to morph into Superman, and that has to give this team loads of confidence heading forward. It's not even like Denard had a bad game; it was just average. And we all know he will be back to making our jaws drop soon, but it's important to know that you can find other ways to win a ball game.
Tyler's Prediction Record: 7-0. Yep. Still perfect.