The three biggest takeaways from Michigan’s big win over Michigan State that snapped a 17-game losing road losing streak to ranked teams.
Games between Michigan and Michigan State are always intense affairs, especially in recent years. This game looked like it was setting up to be another instant classic with both teams again ranked in the top 25.
For the most part, this was a sloppy game filled with fumbles and poor special teams play. This changed late in the third quarter when Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson hit Donovan Peoples-Jones down the sideline for a 79-yard touchdown. This put the Wolverines up 14-7 and after another touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Michigan put down the Spartans by a score of 21-7.
Before this win against Michigan State, Michigan had not beaten a ranked team in a true road game since 2006. This was a 17-game losing streak that, by being snapped, could prove as a turning point in the Jim Harbaugh era.
Jim Harbaugh finally exorcized one of his demons
Harbaugh was a combined 1-5 in rivalry games against Ohio State and Michigan State coming into this game. This has had a negative impact on his impressive tenure at Michigan so far. With a better record against their rivals in the past three seasons, Michigan could have competed for better bowl bids, Big Ten championships and possibly even National Championships. Now that the Wolverines have bested one of their major rivals this season, they should have their eyes set on running the table and getting back to the success they were once accustomed too.
Michigan will go as far as Karan Higdon can carry them
The Wolverines are undefeated when Higdon has over 100 yards this season. This trend continued against the Spartans with Higdon carrying 33 times for 144 yards and 4.4 yards per carry. This marked the sixth straight 100-yard effort from Higdon. He never found the end zone, but this constant production gave Patterson and the rest of the offense short yardage situations on third downs. Higdon has proven himself as a workhorse in the Michigan offense and his ability to extend drives will a necessity if the Wolverines plan on beating the rest of the teams on their tough schedule.
The Wolverines have the best defense in the nation
It was evident last week against Wisconsin that the Michigan defense is the real deal, but the way they continued to dominate on the defensive side of the ball was incredibly impressive. The Wolverines held Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke to 5-of-25 on his pass attempts for only 66 yards. The rushing defense was even more impressive holding the Spartans to only 15 yards on 23 carries. Even further, Michigan held their in-state rivals to 0-12 on third downs and 0-1 on fourth down. In rainy conditions, establishing the run was vital for the Spartans offense. They never found and holes to run through and it was tough to string together long drives against the Michigan defense. Make sure to keep a look out for the Wolverines as they continue to dominate on both sides of the ball.