Live blog: Michigan beats Colorado, 45-28
Michigan beats Colorado, 45-28
It didn't start ideally for Michigan.
But the end result is all that matters, and Michigan rebounded for a shaky beginning to whip Colorado, 45-28.
Jabrill Peppers had a huge day, with nearly 200 all-purpose yards, including his first career punt return for a touchdown.
Wilton Speight also turned things around, finishing 16-for-30 for 229 yards and a touchdown, after he narrowly avoided several interceptions early in the game, as Colorado's defense was disrupting him. Jake Butt had 87 receiving yards, and De'Veon Smith 87 rushing yards.
Colorado led 21-7 at one point, but it was almost all Michigan from there.
The Buffaloes were all but done once their starting quarterback, Sefo Liufau, left the game with an apparent bum ankle in the third quarter. His backup, redshirt freshman Steven Montez, wasn't given many chances to throw, and when he was, he didn't do much with the opportunities.
Colorado was 1-for-13 on third down, with that one conversion coming in the final minute of the game.
Michigan, which should move up to at least No. 3 in the national rankings following Florida State's blowout loss to Louisville earlier in the day, is 3-0 heading into its Big Ten opener next week against Penn State.
Colorado drops to 2-1 ahead of next week's game against Oregon.
Peppers returns punt for TD; UM leads, 45-28
Jabrill Peppers has had quite a day, in all three phases of the game.
His returns on kicks have been especially impressive -- as Colorado, amazingly, continues to kick it to him.
Colorado punter Alex Kinney has really struggled today, and made another gaffe there, kicking a low liner right to Peppers, who went right up the middle and took it 54 yards for a touchdown with 11:27 left in the fourth quarter.
The crowd of 110,000-plus went absolutely crazy as Michigan took a 45-28 lead.
That was Peppers' first career return for a touchdown.
With starting quarterback Sefo Liufau went Colorado's momentum. Backup Steven Montez hasn't been able to do anything.
Isaac's TD extends Michigan's lead to 38-28
Michigan looked fragile in the first half.
Not so much anymore.
Michigan extended its lead to 38-28 on a 1-yard pitch from Wilton Speight to Ty Isaac, capping a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ate up more than 5 minutes of clock. The Wolverines actually came from down at the 11-yard line, after a penalty.
The big play was a 54-yard pass from Speight to Grant Perry, who's having quite a day, having scored a touchdown on a punt block earlier in the game.
Speight now is 13-for-26 for 196 yards, and has found more receivers than just Jake Butt, his go-to target early in the game.
Michigan has racked up 139 yards on the ground, and 335 total yards, not including a bundle on special teams.
Colorado loses QB; Michigan leads, 31-28
Colorado is without its starting quarterback Sefo Liufau, who appears to have left with a right ankle injury.
He tried to stay in, playing a couple snaps while clearly laboring, but the pain appeared to be too much.
Redshirt freshman Steven Montez took over at QB, and had Colorado in scoring position -- until Jabrill Peppers leveled him with a nasty sack for a loss of 11 yards, forcing Colorado to punt.
Then Colorado's special-teams woes continued, as the Buffaloes failed to down the punt before it went into the end zone.
It was a touchback, not what you want when punting from the 40.
Michigan leads 31-28 with 8:20 left in the third quarter.
Michigan answers, takes 31-28 lead
This game is bananas.
Less than two minutes into the second half, each team has scored a touchdown.
De'Veon Smith took a pitch and scampered 42 yards down the left sideline to give Michigan a 31-28 lead.
Jabrill Peppers set up the two-play touchdown drive, taking the kickoff 55 yards to give the Wolverines great field position.
Peppers is having a great game, in all three phases.
Meanwhile, Sefo Liufau appears to be staying in the game to play quarterback for Colorado, despite an apparent leg injury.
Colorado strikes early in second half; UM trails, 28-24
Michigan did such a nice job shutting down Colorado's offense in the second quarter.
But Colorado got it together again early in the second half, scoring a quick touchdown.
Colorado drove 80 yards in just three plays, taking a 28-24 lead on an 80-yard pass from Sefo Liufau to Shay Fields.
Liufau was hurt on the play, and was helped off the field. He appeared to have a leg injury.
Michigan could answer right back, though, as Jabrill Peppers had another long kickoff return.
Michigan takes first lead, 24-21, just before half
Michigan used a timeout with 53 seconds left in the half.
And why not? Given Colorado's punting woes today, there was a good chance the Wolverines could get another quick score.
That's exactly what happened, as sophomore punter Alex Kinney booted a low liner to Jabrill Peppers, who returned it 13 yards and setting up Michigan with another short field.
One play later, Michigan had its first lead of the game, as Wilton Speight found Amara Darboh short, and Darboh scampered to his left, broke a tackle or two, and raced down the sidelines for the 45-yard touchdown.
Michigan leads, 24-21, at the half.
That is the Wolverines' first lead of the game. The large crowd gave UM a nice ovation as the half arrived. Michigan's defense really stepped up, after a slugging start against a fast-paced Colorado offense.
Michigan pulls withing 21-17
Given how poorly quarterback Wilton Speight has played so far, Michigan is fortunate to be right in this game.
Thanks to the Wolverines defense, Colorado's offense has cooled down.
Michigan pulled within 21-17 on a 39-yard field goal by Kenny Allen with about 2 minutes left in the opening half.
The drive was aided by a huge sidelined penalty on Colorado, which followed a 12-yard reception by Jake Butt.
But then Michigan's communication broke down, with Speight and Ty Isaac running into each other in the backfield. Speight followed that with back-to-back incompletions, one of which was almost picked off (it's remarkable he doesn't have an INT this game.
That set up Allen's field goal, as he made amends for his previous miss.
Michigan misses opportunity; still trails 21-14
The Wolverines looked like they were about to tie it.
But it's a game of inches -- and Wilton Speight's 19-yard pass to Jehu Chesson was just off the mark, and Chesson couldn't catch it inbounds.
That set up a 37-yard field-goal attempt for Kenny Allen, who missed it.
So special teams have been an issue for both teams today.
Colorado leads 21-14 with about 5 minutes left in the half.
Speight has completed two passes to receivers not named Jake Butt today.
Michigan pulls within 21-14; Colorado botches another punt
Special teams was huge for Michigan last week. It appears it could be again this week.
Colorado botched a punt, drilling a low liner that set Michigan up with a short field. No block was credited, as the punt was drilled into a Colorado player.
Two plays and 38 yards later, Michigan had pulled within 21-14, on a 17-yard end-around run by Jehu Chesson.
That followed a 21-yard pass from Wilton Speight to Jake Butt.
Michigan caught a break on Colorado's previous drive. A flag was thrown for a late hit, but officials discussed and decided to pick it up. It probably was the right call, as momentum had the Michigan player going.
Speight struggling early; UM trails, 21-7
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight is facing some adversity for the first time this season.
Through a little more than a quarter, he's just 3-for-12 passing for 25 yards.
Several throws have been off his back foot; several have almost been picked off.
He's also been hit several times, as the offensive line has broken down a few times.
Colorado leads 21-7, and it could be worse. After opening its last drive with a 50-yard reception, it ended with a missed 36-yard field-goal attempt.
Colorado caps 10-play drive with TD, leads 21-7
Colorado's offense is relentless.
After a disastrous punt last time, the offense put together another nice drive, a 10-play, 67-yarder that ended with a nifty floater pass from Sefo Liufau to Devin Ross in the left corner of the end zone.
The 5-yard touchdown pass made it 21-7 Colorado.
Colorado was helped out early in the drive on an offsides penalty on Michigan's Mike McCray, on third down.
Liufau had two audibles on the drive, and both changes worked -- one for a 10-yard run, another for an 18-yard pass, both for first downs.
Michigan sure looks like it has its hands full this week.
UM blocks punt, makes it 14-7
Well, well, something finally went Michigan's way.
Colorado was shut down for the first time on offense -- and Michigan took full advantage, blocking a punt and scoring a touchdown.
Tight end Michael Jocz blocked the punt, and it was scooped up at the 6-yard line and returned by Grant Perry.
That makes it 14-7 Colorado with 8:21 left in the first quarter.
Colorado picked up one first down on the drive, but a big drop on third down helped set up the punt block.
Michigan really brought the heat there, and the ball bounced of several players before Perry got it.
Colorado recovers fumble, leads 14-0
Well, this could've started better for the Wolverines.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight was drilled by Chidobe Awuzie -- never saw him coming -- on third-and-7 and fumbled the ball, with Colorado's Derek McCartney scooping it up and scampering about 20 yards for another Colorado touchdown.
There was no review. It was a clean fumble.
The large crowd here is stunned as Colorado leads, 14-0, with 11:48 left in the first quarter.
That's the second turnover of the season for Speight, and first since his first throw of the season.
He looks a bit shaky today. Before the fumble, his previous couple throws were off his back foot, one almost being intercepted.
Colorado takes the early lead, 7-0
For the first time this season, Michigan is trailing in a football game.
Colorado's offense, which scored 100 points in the first two weeks of the season, struck quickly this afternoon, with Sefo Liufau finding Devin Ross for a 37-yard touchdown reception, capping a three-play, 49-yard scoring drive.
The drive was set up with a good punt return by Colorado's Jay Macintyre.
Macintyre, a wide receiver, also completed a pass on the first place of the drive, for 15 yards to Liufau.
The crowd here is quite silent. Michigan's first drive started promising, but fizzled fast, resulting in an opening punt. Of note, Shane Morris saw action for one snap, and was a lead blocker on a Jabrill Peppers' 7-yard run.
Wolverines look to avoid early upset
Michigan's a big favorite this afternoon against Colorado.
Of course, Iowa was a big favorite against North Dakota State, too -- and, well, that didn't exactly go as planned for the Hawkeyes. Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Wisconsin barely survived against Georgia State. Not Georgia. Not Georgia Tech. Georgia State.
Colorado, just to get under Michigan's skin, is wearing its 1994 throwback uniforms. Something miraculous happened that year, I'm told.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is Michigan's honorary captain for today's game, while he serves his NFL suspension.
He had a long game of catch with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on the field before the game.
I'm joined here by Angelique S. Chengelis and Wojo, so be sure to follow all the day's action on the blog, and on Twitter.
Michigan looks to start 3-0
No. 4 Michigan faces Colorado Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in its final non-conference game with a chance to go 3-0 and possibly increase its climb up the national rankings. Follow the action here with live updates throughout the game by Tony Paul of The Detroit News.