3 Takeaways from Michigan’s tough loss to Wisconsin

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan
Sep 24, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines cheerleader runs down the sideline with a flag after a touchdown in the first quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The game started off very promising for the young Wolverines in Madison. However, things went downhill quick after Brandon Peters was knocked out of the game. Big Ten games are typically won in the trenches and on the ground and Wisconsin won both.

As Michigan’s rushing attack struggled to get anything going, Wisconsin was able to get after Brandon Peters. The final score was 24-10, but there is a lot to unpack in this top twenty-five matchup.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

When trying to pull off an upset against a top-five team on the road, you have to limit mistakes and make big plays. As well as Peters played, his fumble on the one-yard line was far from ideal. However, all of this would have been irrelevant had the play before gone a little differently. The play before, Peters threw a nice jump ball to Donovan Peoples-Jones in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown… or not. DPJ appeared to get his left foot down just before his right landed out of bounds. Isn’t this was replay is for? I digress.

Michigan had the ball inside the ten and got zero points.

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Another tough break for the Wolverines came during Wisconsin’s first touchdown. The Wolverines were playing their typical lockdown defense in the first half, so watching a punt get returned for a touchdown hurts. The punt return played out very strange as the Wisconsin return man picked it up off the ground before picking up a couple “blocks” and taking it to the house. The score going into halftime could have been very different in favor of the Wolverines but, instead, they went into halftime all tied up.

Dropped passes again came up and plagued Michigan as the tight ends had trouble holding onto the ball today. Nonetheless, Michigan was playing extremely well in Madison before Peters went down, unfortunately, they just missed on a few huge plays that were very, very close.

MORE PROMISE FOR PETERS

Just as Brandon Peters looked to be coming into his own, he was driven into the ground and carted off the field. Peters was 9/18 with 157 yards and had Michigan in a dogfight with the fifth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers.

Peters showed his ability to make plays against the top defense in the nation. The offense was able to move the chains consistently enough to win the field positioning battle and keep Wisconsin on their heels. Peters was playing well and had this team in position to pull of the upset. Unfortunately, Michigan’s hopes at an upset in Madison drove off the field with Peters when he headed to the locker room to check a potential head and collarbone injury.

Peters was later taken to a hospital to be further checked out. John O’Korn came in and went a pedestrian 2/8 passing and the offense was never the same.

O’Korn’s poor completion percentage was aided by some dropped passes. The injury to Peters really looked to take the air out of a team that had a really good chance to pull out a huge statement win. It will be interesting to see how Michigan’s quarterback situation plays out this next week.

GROUND GAME DISAPPEARS

Michigan rushed the ball 37 times for 58 yards… one more time. Michigan rushed the ball 37 times for 58 yards. Yeesh, give credit to the Wisconsin defense for completely shutting down a Michigan rushing attack that has been torching teams of late.

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With Karan Higdon and Ty Isaac still banged up a lot of the workload fell on the shoulders of sophmore Chris Evans. Evans collected just 25 yards on 11 carries in a frustrating performance where he was unable to break anything loose. Highly-touted redshirt freshman Kareem Walker also did not fare well against the Badgers’ rush defense, accumulating -4 yards on three totes. As you can see, a lot was riding on the passing game and defense and despite this, Peters was still able to move the chains.

The defense began to get run down in the second half as Wisconsin’s stud running back, Jonathan Taylor woke up. Taylor finished the game with 132 yards on 19 carries. In a good old fashion Big Ten matchup, you win the game in the trenches and on the ground. Wisconsin won both.