Quick reads: Michigan cuts through MSU's vaunted run defense

By Nolan Bianchi
Special to The Detroit News

Nolan Bianchi of The Detroit News breaks down Michigan's 21-7 victory over Michigan State.

UM moves ball on MSU run defense

For all the talk about how Michigan would respond to the top-ranked Spartan run defense, Karan Higdon was arguably the most effective player on Michigan's offense. He carried the ball 32 times for 139 yards — his sixth straight game with over 100 yards — and was a crucial part of Michigan's ability to control the clock with a lead in the fourth. Shea Patterson also showed off his set of wheels on occasion, making a great read in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-2 that netted 11 yards and allowed Michigan to add to its lead later on in the drive.

Spartan passing game struggles

The Spartan offense struggled to find any sort of edge from start to finish. The return of LJ Scott looked as if it may add another element to the passing game when he hauled in a 15-yard completion on Michigan State's second play from scrimmage. From there, the Spartans looked uninspired. Brian Lewerke finished 5-of-25 with 66 yards and the Spartans picked up only 15 yards on the ground as a team. Michigan State also finished 0-for-11 on third down. Of course, it didn't help that it was without Cody White and Felton Davis left the game with a torn Achilles in the second quarter. But Lewerke's performance didn't even give the Spartans a chance; he was replaced by freshman Rocky Lombardi late in the fourth.

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Patterson shows poise

Patterson looked hesitant to trust his arm early on. On several occasions, the Michigan quarterback opted to either throw the ball away or bounce out-of-bounds rather than trust one of his talented receivers at the second level of the field. Patterson's only real shot in the first half was a last-ditch effort with time running out in the second quarter to Donovan Peoples-Jones in the end zone that fell incomplete. Then, his confidence put the Wolverines up 14-7 in the third. Patterson threw deep down the sideline to Peoples-Jones, who had a step on his defender and took the reception all the way to the house.

UM controlled clock and field

Despite struggling to score through much of the first three quarters, Michigan managed the game much better than the Spartans. It kept the ball in Michigan State territory during a majority of the first half and controlled the ball for 41:03 of the game, which prevented Michigan State from finding a groove offensively. Its offense ran 14 plays and chipped 7:56 off the clock on its first scoring drive and took 6:41 to go 84 yards on 13 plays on the Ben Mason score that put the Wolverines up 21-7.

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer