Northwestern vs. Michigan
September 29, 2018
Senior Photographer: Ed Gorski
Senior Writer: Chris Williamson
Last week, Nebraska walked into Michigan Stadium talking about how they were viewing the game as Rocky vs Drago (them being Rocky, and Michigan being Drago). At the final buzzer, Michigan was Drago, but Nebraska was lying dead on the field looking more like Apollo Creed than Rocky. This past weekend, Michigan marched into Ryan Field a 14-point favorite over Northwestern. For the first two quarters, Northwestern looked like the Rocky Nebraska wishes it could be. The Michigan defense looked confused while Clayton Thorson looked like Joe Montana. Michigan didn’t look much better on the offensive side of the ball. Whether this was because of Harbaugh’s stubborn play calling or the fact that Northwestern’s defensive line was the best Michigan had seen since Notre Dame, remains to be seen. It’s also worth noting, that Shea Patterson had a rough first half as well. Missed throws, missed reads, and some poor scrambling decisions all added to the offensive anemia.
Michigan went three and out on their first possession. Northwestern’s defense was on point and Michigan’s offensive line struggled a bit. Northwestern responded by immediately marching down the field and throwing 7 up on the scoreboard with a 1-yard run by QB Clayton Thorson. Michigan’s offense failed to do much with the football their 2nd possession, which was countered by a 45-yard Charlie Kuhbander field goal by Northwestern.
The idea that Michigan was a two-touchdown favorite in this game became laughable after Northwestern went up 17-0 on replacement running back John Moten’s 3-yard run. It should be noted that on the Monday before the game, Northwestern’s star running back Jeremy Larkin had to retire suddenly due to cervical stenosis. There was a lot of uncertainty as to what kind of running attack Michigan’s defense would see. John Moten handled himself admirably in the first half finishing the game with 13 attempts for 36 yards and 1 TD.
As the 2nd quarter wound down, Michigan, on the back of running back Karan Higdon, finally found some life and scored a much-needed touchdown on a 4-yard run bringing the half to a close with Northwestern up 17-7.
Michigan forces Northwestern to go 3 and out on their first possession and responds by putting 3 on the scoreboard courtesy of a Quinn Nordin 23-yard field
goal. After a few more 3 and outs on both side, Michigan puts together another good drive but has to settle for a Quinn Nordin field goal. The third quarter ends with Northwestern leading Michigan 17-13.
As the minutes tick down, a Northwestern upset looks more and more likely. With about four minutes left, Shea Patterson starts to lead Michigan on the kind of offensive drive we’ve come to expect. A few well-timed passes, and an outstanding QB scramble led to a Karan Higdon 5-yard touchdown run. Northwestern’s last-ditch effort to score ended on a massive sack of Clayton Thorson.
Final: Michigan 20 – Northwestern 17
In summation, while the defense may have been sluggish in the first half, they came out angry in the 2nd half, keeping Northwestern off the scoreboard and making life miserable for Clayton Thorson. Chase Winovich had another monster game defensively and Michigan was able to make enough offensive adjustments to pull this one out. Next week may be homecoming, and it may be Maryland, but if the Wolverines fall behind again, Maryland won’t be as easy to counter.