Shea Patterson, Michigan Rout Wisconsin 38-13 for Crucial Big Ten Win

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2018

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 13: Karan Higdon #22 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates a first half touchdown with Shea Patterson #2 of the Michigan Wolverines while playing the Wisconsin Badgers on October 13, 2018 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The No. 12 Michigan Wolverines earned their first Top 25 win of the season, defeating the 15th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers 38-13 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

Shea Patterson threw for 124 yards on 14-of-20 passing and ran for 90 yards and a touchdown. Karan Higdon also ran for 105 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Michigan's defense held Wisconsin to 283 total yards. Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook completed seven of his 20 passes for 100 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

      

Shea Patterson's Mobility Should Be Bigger Part of Michigan Offense

In two years with the Ole Miss Rebels, Patterson ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 88 carries. Through his first six games at Michigan, he had 31 rushing yards.

The junior quarterback put his athleticism on display in the second quarter Saturday night, breaking a read-option for 81 yards down the left sideline.

Patterson scored on another read-option in the third quarter to help put the Wolverines ahead 21-7.

While Michigan doesn't need to make the read-option a staple of its offense going forward, head coach Jim Harbaugh would be wise to get Patterson out of the pocket more often.

The Wolverines become harder to stop if opposing defenses have to account for Patterson's scrambling ability. He would take some of the attention away from Higdon and buy his receivers more time to get open.

For the most part, Harbaugh has stuck to his power-running style on offense.

But it says something when Nick Saban is willing to embrace the spread after years of running a traditional offense with the Alabama Crimson Tide. The college game has changed, and even somebody as inflexible as Saban acknowledged the shifting landscape.

Perhaps Patterson's success on the ground Saturday can help Harbaugh see the value in letting his quarterback get outside on designed runs.

     

All Is Not Lost for Two-Loss Badgers

Many Wisconsin fans are understandably feeling pretty down after a game in which Michigan outclassed the Badgers. The defeat will sting for a few days, and the team can kiss its College Football Playoff hopes goodbye.

A Rose Bowl berth remains within reach, however.

Wisconsin is the only ranked team in the Big Ten West and has one ranked team on the schedule the rest of the way. The Badgers' next stretch of games also compares favorably to the others who are competing for the West crown.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are Wisconsin's toughest opponent left in the regular season, and that game is looking more winnable by the week. Penn State lost to the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday, and head coach James Franklin is again having to answer for a fourth quarter in which his team was outplayed.

Wisconsin doesn't play Penn State until Nov. 10, which gives the Badgers some time to rebound from Saturday's loss and build some momentum for their trip to State College, Pennsylvania.

     

Karan Higdon's Early Struggles Concerning Ahead of Matchup with Stingy Michigan State Defense

Higdon had just 11 yards in the first half. He became more effective as the game wore on and Wisconsin's defense battled fatigue.

Still, Higdon's first-half performance is notable because the Wolverines will take on one of FBS' best run defenses in Week 8.

Entering Saturday, Michigan State was allowing a paltry 33.8 yards per game on the ground, first in the nation.

The Spartans surrendered 162 yards to Penn State running back Miles Sanders, but that total is deceiving. Sanders had two first-half carries total 126 yards and ran for only 16 yards in the second half of Penn State's 21-17 defeat.

Wisconsin's defense was bound to break sooner or later.

The Badgers offense wasn't moving the ball and possessed the ball for 22:59, meaning the defense was on the field for just over 37 minutes. Wisconsin was also 42nd in run defense, allowing 130.2 yards per game and 4.43 yards per carry.

Michigan State will pose a stiffer challenge to its in-state rival.

It's no coincidence Higdon's two worst showings in terms of yards per carry came in a defeat to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and ugly win over the Northwestern Wildcats. He averaged 3.4 yards per touch against Notre Dame and 3.8 yards against Northwestern.

If the Spartans can keep Higdon in check, then they should be in position to spring an upset.

      

What's Next?

The road will likely get tougher for Michigan. The Wolverines have the Spartans on the road next Saturday before a home matchup with Penn State on Nov. 3. Wisconsin welcomes in the Illinois Fighting Illini next Saturday.

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