College Park, Md. – There's nothing like a trip to Maryland to chase a big win over a rival that could have been hangover-inducing.
A week after Michigan pounded Notre Dame in wet and windy conditions, the 14th-ranked Wolverines went on the road and had the luxury of facing slumping Maryland on Saturday. And in the 38-7 victory over the Terps, the Wolverines learned plenty about themselves.
Michigan is now 7-2, 4-2 Big Ten and is off next Saturday before facing Michigan State at Michigan Stadium. The Terps have lost four straight and are 3-6, 1-5.
“The thing you worry about, you come off a big win like we had the week before, what’s the mindset going to be like?” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. ”It was to put the pedal down, put the foot on the gas. I admire that the most.”
Quarterback Shea Patterson was 13-of-22 for 151 yards and a touchdown before backup Dylan McCaffrey took over in the the fourth quarter. Michigan had 331 yards, including 176 yards passing. Hassan Haskins had 13 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown, and Zach Charbonnet had two rushing touchdowns on eight carries for 28 yards.
The Wolverines took the lead almost instantly when Giles Jackson returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.
“We always try to start the game off fast and that was a big emphasis coming into this game on the road,” Patterson said. “That was cool to see him take off and set the tone for the game.”
It was the first of several exclamation-point plays.
A fake punt on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter executed by Michael Barrett, who ran for 14 yards, was big and on the next play, Patterson connected with Nico Collins for a 51-yard reception, also big. Josh Uche had two sacks in the first half, Tru Wilson had a 39-yard run, and Josh Metellus had an interception after Mike Danna hit Maryland quarterback Josh Jackson.
“It was a great game for big plays,” Harbaugh said. “That play was big, Giles Jackson’s kickoff return for a touchdown was huge, the fourth-and-1 punt fake where Michael Barrett ran for 13 yards (was) well blocked, Nico Collins’ long 51-yard pass-catch, Tru Wilson had a long run and Zach Charbonnet made some really nice runs, scored (two touchdowns). The pressures, the sacks, those are big plays. Those led to three-and-outs, drive stoppers.”
Michigan had an offensive lull late in the first quarter into the second and had back-to-back three-and-outs that nearly swelled to three straight had it not been for the fake punt that eventually led to a touchdown.
Wolverines Josh Uche and Shea Patterson said the team is executing at a high level Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
“That fake punt, we needed it pretty badly,” Uche said. “It kind of killed their spirit.”
Patterson was pleased with the way the offense rolled, but pointed out the need to clean up the inefficiencies that led to the three-and-outs.
“I think collectively as a group, we’re playing at our highest level,” Patterson said. “There’s a couple three and outs on the offensive side of the ball and we kinda want to stay away from that to put our defense in some better positions. But as a group right now we’re hitting our stride.”
The only disappointment for the Wolverines was allowing Maryland’s Javon Leake to score on a 97-yard kickoff return with 1:18 left in the third quarter.
“They didn’t score on the defense,” Metellus said. “That’s big for us.”
Maryland finished with 233 yards and was 4-of-16 on third down. Jackson, who played at Saline High and is the son of former longtime Michigan assistant Fred Jackson, was 9-of-20 for 97 yards and had the interception.
“The pressures came at the right time, the sacks came at the right time,” Harbaugh said. “We were able to keep them out of the end zone. They got down into field goal range and missed that (37-yarder in the second quarter) and Josh made the big play on the interception.”
For the Wolverines, whose two losses have come on the road at highly ranked Wisconsin and then Penn State, this was an important test for them after the big 45-14 win over Notre Dame in a night game a week earlier.
“I think just really taking a day or night to enjoy that big victory last week and not coming out flat this week,” Patterson said. “That was the biggest thing as far as attacking the week and approaching this game as, that game is over with and we’ve got to come out and make a statement on the road, and I think we did that.”