Michigan routs Maryland in preparation for critical Big Ten stretch
Ann Arbor — Michigan completed the first half of its season with a three-touchdown win over Maryland, and now begins a tough stretch for the Wolverines.
But first things first.
The Wolverines had another slow start but was solid across the board the rest of the way in a 42-21 win over the Terps before 109,531 at Michigan Stadium. The game was delayed 70 minutes because of weather issues.
Michigan is 5-1, 3-0 Big Ten and will face Wisconsin next Saturday at Michigan Stadium in a night game, followed by a trip to in-state rival Michigan State before a bye and then Penn State at the Big House.
“There’s no doubt in my mind we’re prepared for Wisconsin,” center Cesar Ruiz said after the game.
Injuries will be something to watch as the Wolverines prepare for this big stretch. Michigan faced Maryland without starting defensive end Rashan Gary, who suffered an apparent right shoulder injury last week at Northwestern, and also running back Chris Evans. Evans was in uniform going through warmups but was in street clothes at the start of the game, missing his third straight game.
ate in the first half, defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour was removed from the field on a cart with an injury to his right leg. Defensive tackle Carlo Kemp also was injured against the Terps, making an already thin situation on the defensive line that much thinner. Aubrey Solomon has been out since the season opener.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game that Gary has been dealing with an AC joint issue in the shoulder and decided he wanted him to sit. Evans practiced a few days last week but also wanted to rest him. Harbaugh said Dwumfour and Kemp were still being evaluated and Solomon has been doing more each week in practice.
After coming away with only a field goal in the first quarter and then giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown, the Wolverines did a lot of good things in every phase.
“It was players making plays today,” Harbaugh said.
Quarterback Shea Patterson had his most productive day statistically as a Wolverine, completing 19-of 27 for 282 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that deflected off the fingers of Zach Gentry. Patterson threw touchdown passes to Ronnie Bell, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Jared Wangler.
A week after running back Karan Higdon had 30 carries at Northwestern, he rushed 25 times against Maryland for 103 yards. Michigan had 465 total yards, including 294 passing.
The defense, ranked No. 1 in the country, held the Terps to 220 yards and 5-of-13 on third downs. The Wolverines had five tackles for loss and two sacks. Tyree Kinnel led the team with seven tackles and Devin Bush had six. Khaleke Hudson had two tackles for loss and a sack and David Long had the team’s other sack.
“It was really an epic defensive performance” Harbaugh said.
Maryland scored its first offensive touchdown with 11:28 left in the game, and Michigan responded with an 81-yard, nine-play scoring drive. Wangler, a fullback wearing No. 5 as his father, John Wangler wore while a Michigan quarterback, scored on a seven-yard pass from Patterson. Fullback Ben Mason, who had a 1-yard touchdown run in the game, made the two-point conversion for the 35-14 lead.
“Great to see Jared make that play,” Harbaugh said. “That was a big touchdown for us. That drive was big answering after Maryland had put their touchdown on the board. That was big to get that touchdown back and get it back to a three-score game.”
The defense added to the Wolverines’ lead when Brandon Watson returned an interception for their final score with 4:25 left.
The Wolverines built a 27-7 lead in the third quarter, as Maryland had two players ejected for targeting. Quinn Nordin added his second field goal of the game, this time from 31 yards. Earlier in the drive it appeared Patterson and Peoples-Jones connected on a 40-yard touchdown, but it was called back for holding.
Michigan took a 27-7 lead when Patterson, who faced pressure, spun out of trouble and found Peoples-Jones for a 34-yard touchdown. Earlier in the drive, Peoples-Jones was called for a block in the back, and then Tre Watson was thrown out of the game for targeting on Peoples-Jones during the same play.
It was another slow start for Michigan for the second straight week, but this time it came at home. The Wolverines were outgaining Maryland 130-17 when the Wolverines finally got on the board with a 34-yard field goal from Nordin with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
Higdon, however, takes exception to the slow-start description.
“We do a great job of starting strong each and every week,” Higdon said. “In some people's eyes, it may not seem that way, but it’s football. They prepare the same way we prepare each and every week. They put in a different game plan and we do the same, too.”
The Terps answered back after the field goal almost instantly when Ty Johnson went 98 yards on the kickoff return to give Maryland a 7-3 lead 11 seconds later.
Michigan shut down Maryland in the second quarter — the Terps had 21 yards of offense in the first and second quarters — while expanding its lead to 17-7. Mason scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 95-yard, 11-play drive that was highlighted by a 51-yard pass from Patterson to Nico Collins with a pass interference tacked on Maryland.
Bell caught a 22-yard pass from Patterson for a touchdown on the Wolverines’ next possession, giving Michigan the 10-point lead.
Higdon carried the running game in the first half with 19 rushes for 90 yards. Michigan outgained Maryland 291-42 and converted on 7 of 10 third downs. The Wolverines had 14 first downs to the Terps’ three and ran 44 plays that averaged 6.6 a play.