Michigan Grades: Wolverines Dominate Minnesota in Third Win of Season
Michigan 29, Minnesota 6
OK, who were those guys in the winged helmets on Saturday?
Seriously that was not the same team I've been watching all season long.
These guys looked more like a dominant Michigan team from years past that was usually expected to run over Minnesota the way the Wolverines always do.
The Michigan team I'm use to this season would've allowed 45 points, 8,000 yards and thrown five interceptions with Nick Sheridan at quarterback.
But that didn't happen at the Metrodome (which the Wolverines will leave a perfect 12-0 now that Minnesota is moving into new digs) and I am left pleasantly surprised.
Instead what happened was Nick Sheridan earning a new nickname, Stevie Brown breaking up actual passes, the front seven stopped the run, and K.C. Lopata tied a school record with five field goals.
When Michigan went up 9-0, I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop and for Minnesota to up some big plays and take the lead.
Then a strange thing happened, Michigan never gave in and rolled right over the Golden Gophers as would've been expected had this been any other year.
On with the grades (which I haven't been so excited to give out this season till now).
Nick Sheridan will no longer be referred to as the "Human White Flag" but rather will be known as the "Human White Knight."
Just when all hope was lost after hearing about Steven Threet's concussion, knowing how Sheridan had played when given the chance, in rode the "Human White Knight" on his trusty stallion to save the day.
OK that's over doing it a bit but I have to give the guy credit after riding him all season.
He wasn't spectacular or anything but he was spectacularly solid with 203 yards, a touchdown on 18-for-30 passing along with 33 yards rushing and most importantly, no interceptions, fumbles or sacks.
I held my breath early on when Sheridan threw what looked like his patented panic ball on the first drive only to see Greg Matthews make an incredible one handed grab. From there on out though Sheridan made mostly solid throws.
Speaking of Matthews, he had a day I expected he should've been having all season. Six catches, 79 yards and one touchdown is something the junior wide receiver is capable of doing on a week-to-week basis.
Especially since Martavious Odoms and Darryl Stonum are developing more and more each week.
Along with the rushing game, we're starting to see what this offense is capable of and what Rich Rodriguez can do once he has players who know his system.
No one had a great day running the ball. Michael Shaw led with 72 yards on eight carries, but all together the Wolverines combined for 237 yards rushing.
Fullback Mark Moundros getting a touchdown was the first I've seen by a Michigan fullback in I don't know how long.
My one gripe about the offense though is it's inability to punch it in early in the game.
Four drives in the first half ended with the Wolverines inside Minnesota's 30 with three drives inside the 20. Three of those drives ended with field goals and one was lost to a fumble by Odoms.
Point is Michigan could've been blowing Minnesota out by a lot more and instead kept us on the edge of our seats waiting for the Gophers to pull the comeback.
It kept Minnesota in the game and field goals won't be enough to beat either of Michigan's last two opponents.
But it just goes to show how far Michigan (and the "Human White Knight") has come offensively and that they're starting to get what RichRod is preaching.
Offensive Grade: A-
Did Marlin Jackson don the number three jersey on Saturday after being disgusted all season of how it was being represented by Stevie Brown?
Someone please give me an explanation of how Brown (the bane of my existence as a Michigan fan this season) had two pass breakups and never got beat once against a 36th ranked Minnesota pass offense.
Maybe it had to do with Morgan Trent annihilating Eric Decker in the first half forcing Decker to sit out the entire second half.
Michigan's defense actually looked like it returned eight starters from a year ago.
The Wolverines forced six three and outs including Minnesota's first five possessions and didn't give up a first down until like 25 minutes into the game.
It was amazing.
Even when Minnesota seemed to be gaining a little momentum early in the fourth quarter the defense took it away when Trent intercepted Adam Weber with 7:16 left.
Weber was abysmal. He threw just 105 yards on 13-for-24 passing and the running game was no where to be found as Minnesota gained just 121 yards on the ground.
The Golden Gophers looked like they might of been expecting a different Michigan team on Saturday, one that they could run over with ease.
Instead Minnesota was met by a team that had seen opponents best shots all season and was prepared for that again. Minnesota showed why it's not a heavyweight contender by any means.
Defensive Grade: A+
Zoltan Mesko has been promoted to a new rank in the universe. He is now "The Space Lord Intergalactic Emperor" after converting another fake punt.
I really want to see him fake a punt and throw it for a touchdown. That would be amazing.
K.C. Lopata quelled any fears that he might cost Michigan a game by being repeatedly solid all day including one field goal from 48 yards.
Boubacar Cissoko had me worried when he fumbled two returns but he recovered and the disaster was averted.
Special Teams Grade: B+ (only because fumbling returns is unacceptable)
Rich Rodriguez clearly was better prepared than Tim Brewster who must of thought Minnesota would get a win by just showing up.
Did Brewster even watch tape of Michigan at all this season? Sure they've been bad but the Wolverines have gotten everyone's best shot and still played tough.
I guess that empty trophy case for the Little Brown Jug Brewster set up took up too much time that he could've set aside for watching tape.
Scott Schafer for once gets a break. It seemed like he simplified everything and just manned up.
No more gimmicks, no more switching up formations, just line up in a four man front and hit opponents in the mouth.
Coaches Grade: A
I hope this game wasn't just a tease and that Michigan can put together performances like this in the final two games.
Minnesota obviously didn't show up Saturday making the Wolverines look really good for four quarters.
It's just too funny though that Michigan has never lost in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and will now never have the chance to do so.
Michigan avoided it's first eight loss season in history for one week and if they finish the season 5-7 all will be forgiven and forgotten.
Let's just wait and see though and just celebrate this win after losing five straight.
Final Grade: A
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