ANN ARBOR, MICH. - Two years ago, Michigan’s November loss to Maryland at Michigan Stadium slammed the door on Brady Hoke’s U-M coaching career.
On Saturday, it was tough to remember that U-M team wore the same color uniforms as this one.
In the first game of November, driving to a Big Ten title and beyond, the Wolverines validated the College Football Playoff’s No. 3 ranking and their status as the Big Ten’s lone undefeated team in a 59-3 domination of the Terps.
Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) dropped the hammer early, scoring on all five first-half drives and keeping Maryland off the scoreboard in the first half.
Maryland (5-4, 2-4) entered the game expecting to be competitive, with its coach D.J. Durkin, knowing U-M’s personnel as its former defensive coordinator and a rushing offense that ranked No. 13 in the country.
But that didn’t account for U-M quarterback Wilton Speight’s mastery. He dominated the first half with a U-M record 292 passing yards and finished the day 19-for-24 for a career high 362 yards and two touchdowns.
By the end of the game it was a brutal scoreboard, with the Wolverines rolling up 660 total yards, scoring on all but one offensive drive.
While the Terps moved the ball more than U-M’s defense would have liked, allowing 367 yards, in the important moments, the Wolverines stood up in big moments.
At the end of the game it looked laughable but a goal line stand – and missed field goal – with U-M leading 14-0 could have changed the complexion of the game. Safety Delano Hill also added a pair of interceptions.
Instead, U-M’s offense remained unstoppable (De’Veon Smith’s 114 rushing yards and three touchdowns were an afterthought) and trying to keep pace was too much for the Terps.
Especially after starting quarterback Perry Hills was knocked out of the game by Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich in the first half.
By that point it was academic, though as Michigan set the tone for the game on the first drive of the first half.
Receiving the ball after losing the opening coin toss, the Wolverines started at their own nine yard line.
Just over five minutes later, they were in the end zone on a 34-yard catch by Amara Darboh for the 7-0 lead.
Thanks to a 15-yard personal foul by offensive lineman Kyle Kalis – which U-M coach Jim Harbaugh made sure no one missed with his salty sideline scolding – the Wolverines defied statistics on the drive, totaling 106 yards.
It was a fitting prelude about what was to come.
The Wolverines steamrolled after that, mostly through the air and by halftime, Speight was on a record pace. His 292 passing yards (on 13-of-16 completions) smashed the U-M first-half passing record and he did it all different ways.
Take your pick of most impressive.
There was the flea-flicker where Jabrill Peppers took the handoff, threw back to Speight, who hit Jehu Chesson downfield for 40 yards.
A second-and-34 screen pass that Chris Evans took for 56 yards.
A 37-yard catch and run by Jake Butt, part of his big day, becoming Michigan’s all-time tight end leader in receiving yards.
Or the end-zone chuck just before halftime, feeling the pressure, so winging it to a waiting Chesson for a 33-yard score. It was Chesson’s best game of the season with five catches for 112 yards.
He was robbed a few passing touchdowns – one when Evans stepped out at the one and another when he ran and jumped in a 10-yard score – but seemed satisfied with the half.
That’s how you get to 35-0 by the break.
And make yet another national statement about dominance, a far cry from where these two teams sat on this field two years earlier.
Detroit Free Press