Michigan Wolverines QB Shea Patterson and LB Josh Uche speak to the media after the 38-7 win over Maryland on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019.
Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Can you label a 31-point road win as “ho-hum”?
If so, No. 15 Michigan’s 38-7 win Saturday over Maryland might fit the definition.
The Wolverines jumped to a 14-point lead and seemed poised to blow out the Terrapins. Then things slowed … yet Michigan still emerged with its second-largest victory of the season, tying last week’s 45-14 win over Notre Dame.
This blowout in front of a sparse crowd at Maryland Stadium was business as usual between the two teams. Michigan has won five consecutive games in the series under Jim Harbaugh by a combined score of 202-41. The closest game came last season, when the Terrapins lost by merely 21. And from the first play of the game, it seemed clear U-M was on its way to another dominating win.
Giles Jackson took the opening kickoff for a 97-yard touchdown, energizing his sideline. The defense forced a three-and-out, the offense took possession at Maryland’s 41, and minutes later, Zach Charbonnet punched in a short touchdown out of the Wildcat formation.
“We didn’t want to start slow,” Jackson said. “We needed to start fast on the gas and keep going. That’s what we did.”
Shortly after that opening sequence, though, Michigan’s foot may have began slipping off the pedal. Maryland had two drives that totaled 105 yards and reached the red zone; The Wolverines’ offense, meanwhile, had two consecutive three-and-outs. At one point, they were being outgained despite leading by 14.
But the Terrapins were unable to score on either possession, and when it seemed Michigan’s offense was on its way to a third straight three-and-out, a fake punt on fourth-and-1 kept the drive alive. The next play, quarterback Shea Patterson hit receiver Nico Collins for a 51-yard pass, setting up another Charbonnet touchdown run.
The rout was back on.
“When your opportunity is called, you gotta go make the play,” Collins said. “And that was a read and Shea trusted me and I trust Shea’s gonna give me the ball. And he did.”
The Wolverines took a 21-point lead into halftime and didn’t let up afterward. They scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter, the defense clamped down and forced three three-and-outs to start the second half. Maryland finally got on the board with a 97-yard kickoff return touchdown from Javon Leake, cutting the deficit to 28; it was not nearly enough to get back in the game.
Michigan wasn’t overly dominating in any offensive statistical category. The Wolverines ran for 155 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. They averaged just a little more than six yards per passing attempt and finished with 176 yards, more than enough to get the job done.
The defense shut out Maryland’s offense; 36% of the Terrapins’ 233 total yards came on the final two drives, the latter of which was against Michigan’s second-team defense.
Harbaugh and his players seemed pleased with their performance after the game. Following the big win over Notre Dame, Michigan wanted to avoid a letdown at all costs. And it did, thanks to the quick start.
“Really taking a day or a night to enjoy that big victory last week and not come out flat this week, I think that was the biggest thing as far as attacking the week and approaching this game,” Patterson said. “That game is over with, and we’ve got to come out and make a statement on the road. I think we did that.”
Collectively, the Wolverines believed Saturday’s performance built on what they’ve shown in the previous two weeks, dating to their second-half comeback attempt at Penn State. They believe they are ascending as a team, and that bodes well as they enter a bye week before their final three games of the season.
“The thing you worry about, you’re coming off a big game, a big win like we had the week before, what’s the mindset gonna be like?” Harbaugh said. “It was to put the pedal down. To put the foot on the gas. And so I admire that the most. The way they’re playing, it’s been game after game, just playing with great effort.”
Michigan Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh speaks to the media after the 38-7 win over Maryland on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019.
Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press