It took Michigan football quite some time to get going against an outmatched opponent. An entire half, in fact. And the Wolverines' second-half performance was not without its flaws, either.
Michigan, though, still emerged with a 45-20 victory over SMU at Michigan Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Quarterback Shea Patterson was efficient, completing 14 of 18 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Sophomore receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones caught four passes for 90 yards and three touchdowns.
While the passing game dazzled at times, U-M's offense scored just 14 points in the first half and struggled to establish the running game.
Without starting running back Karan Higdon, who dressed and warmed up but did not play, the Wolverines tallied 21 first-half carries for 73 yards against a Mustangs defense that entered the game allowing 44 points and 461 total yards per game.
After their first two drives stalled, the Wolverines appeared poised to score on their third possession, but Patterson threw a red-zone interception, one of the few mistakes he made on the day.
Even when Michigan took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, the Wolverines relinquished it nearly immediately, when a blown coverage allowed SMU quarterback Ben Hicks to find receiver James Proche for a 50-yard touchdown.
But the game turned after Michigan converted a fourth-and-inches near midfield on the ensuing drive. SMU coach Sonny Dykes, displeased with the spot of the ball, took a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — and on the next play, Patterson found Peoples-Jones for a 35-yard touchdown off play-action.
It would only get worse for the Mustangs. After driving into U-M territory near the end of the half, Hicks' pass was intercepted by Josh Metellus, who had been whistled for pass interference on the previous play. With a few blockers in front of him, Metellus took the interception 73 yards for a touchdown as the first half ended.
Patterson gave his offense a spark on its first possession of the second half.
On a third-and-5, he avoided pressure, leaving the pocket and finding tight end Zach Gentry for 11 yards.
Later in the drive, Patterson found Gentry – who caught four passes for 95 yards – for a 28-yard gain, and on the following play, threw a back-shoulder fade to Peoples-Jones for a 7-yard touchdown.
On Michigan's next possession, Patterson and Peoples-Jones connected again for a 41-yard touchdown.
U-M's defense struggled to get off the field after allowing just 144 yards of total offense in the first half.
In the third quarter, SMU marched down the field during a 16-play, 87-yard touchdown drive that took up 7:31 and featured three U-M penalties that accrued 37 yards and three first downs.
The Mustangs' next drive: 12 plays, 80 yards, 5:40 off the clock and a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback William Brown to Proche on 4th-and-goal.
SMU didn't have any more offense in it, though, and Michigan was able to bleed much of the fourth quarter on a eight-play, 68-yard drive that was punctuated by a 9-yard touchdown run from running back Tru Wilson.
Contact Orion Sang: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang.
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