For the first time in more than 30 years, Michigan is the outright king of the Big Ten in back to back seasons. Not since Desmond Howard was making plays in Ann Arbor has U-M been back to back Big Ten champions. But Jim Harbaugh and Co. ended that streak tonight defeating Purdue, 43-22.
JJ McCarthy was once again very solid, albeit in a modest outing in terms of attempts. He finished the night 11-for-17 for 161 yards and three touchdowns. He did have an ill-advised interception late in the third quarter that led to a Purdue field goal, but that was really his lone “uh oh” play. He wasn’t much of a factor running the ball, but did get out of trouble a handful of times and had 14 yards on the ground.
As for Donovan Edwards, he once again proved that he can be a No. 1 running back without issue. He carried it 25 times for 185 yards and a touchdown, still with only one good hand. He’s been limited as a pass catcher because of the injury to his right hand, but he’s been outstanding as a ball carrier in Blake Corum’s absence. Newly-minted running back Kalel Mullings came up big in shortage yardage situations and scored a pair of touchdowns himself. What a cool night for him.
On defense, the Wolverines were quite a bit more porous, especially through the air, compared to normal. Over the course of the 12-game season, Michigan gave up just 177 passing yards per game. Aidan O’Connell finished the night with 366 yards and found wide receiver Charlie Jones a whopping 13 times for 162 yards. Jones was busy early and often and finished the night with more yards than any other receiver Michigan faced all year. O’Connell was, however, picked off twice by freshman Will Johnson, who is showing why he was a special, five-star recruit before arriving in Ann Arbor.
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With the win over Purdue, Michigan has all but locked up the No. 2 spot in the final College Football Playoff rankings, while Georgia is safe and sound at No. 1 after dismantling LSU. At No. 3 and 4, however, there’s going to be a debate. It’ll likely be TCU at No. 3, despite losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship, with Ohio State backing its way into the No. 4 spot thanks to USC’s collapse against Utah in the Pac 12 title game.
So here we are. For the second year in a row, Michigan is atop the Big Ten conference and heading to the College Football Playoff. And the Wolverines are better than they were last year, which makes all of this so much fun. Your Michigan Wolverines have a legitimate shot at winning a national title.