Over the last 133 years, this is only the 11th time that the Michigan Wolverines have gone undefeated in the Big Ten. Michigan often won a lot a century ago, but the 2000s and 2010s were rough for the maize and blue. However, with head coach John Harbaugh at the helm, he’s been able to dig Michigan out of the trenches and get back to consistent winning seasons. Excluding the 2020 Covid year, Michigan is 25-2 in the 2020s.
For the 44th time in program history, the Michigan Wolverines are Big Ten champions!#GoBlue pic.twitter.com/Of9XBYYeZp — Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) December 4, 2022
Key Michigan Playmakers That Made An Impact
The Michigan Wolverines beat the Purdue Boilermakers 43-22 in the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. This was Michigan’s second championship in two years, and Purdue didn’t make it easy. Michigan struck first early in the first quarter, igniting a back-and-forth scoring frenzy. At halftime, Michigan had a slight lead at 14-13. However, the Wolverines have been a second-half team all year, and it showed once again. Michigan outscored the Boilermakers 29-9 in the second half to run away with the victory.
Heisman candidate Blake Corum was shut down for the year last week after suffering a knee injury in the Illinois game a couple of weeks ago. Running back teammate Donovan Edwards filled in exceptionally well for the lead back. Edwards was a game-changer in this matchup. He started slow, but once the gears were oiled up, he shot through the lanes like a rocket. He rushed 25 times for 185 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 7.4 yards on the ground with a long of 60, the play where he ran out of bounds just before the endzone.
The tight ends came to play! Luke Schoonmaker and Colston Loveland were the difference makers in a game that didn’t include a lot of passes on Michigan’s side. Loveland caught his only target early on, the first score of the game in the first quarter. He jumped up in double coverage to snag a 25-yard pass from J.J. McCarthy and fall in the endzone. Schoonmaker made his presence known later in the game. He caught a seven-yard dart from McCarthy after J.J. scrambled out of the pocket. He also contributed with a two-point reception late in the fourth quarter. Schoonmaker ended the day with three catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.
After a torn ACL early in the 2021 season, wide receiver Ronnie Bell helped push the Wolverines to another winning season. Bell was another critical playmaker on the offense that helped the team put points on the board. Bell caught five passes for 67 yards and a touchdown; he was McCarthy’s go-to target on the offense. Speaking of a key playmaker, linebacker Kalel Mullings didn’t take a snap on the defense; he was used as the goal line back on offense. Mullings has been a gadget player this season. He accounted for two touchdowns on eight attempts for 26 yards.
Not all the credit goes to the offense; the defense held their own and helped get the ball in the offense’s hands. However, one player above the rest played lights out. Defensive back Will Johnson, wearing the #2 jersey, had two interceptions in the game. His first interception occurred almost halfway through the third quarter as he snagged the ball from the wide receiver close to the endzone on the one-yard line. The other interception was the dagger in the fourth quarter as he jumped the receiver’s route and came down with the ball. The last one gave the offense the ball on Purdue’s 16-yard line, which resulted in a Ronnie Bell touchdown pass and two-point conversion to Schoonmaker.
What’s Next For The Michigan Wolverines?
After the Associated Press votes on their top four teams Sunday afternoon, Michigan should have no issues standing its ground as the number two team in the nation. University of Georgia and Michigan are the two remaining undefeated teams in the top 25 and should be number one and two overall. However, TCU and USC losing creates a hole at three and four. Ohio State University will probably fill the void left by USC, but TCU should have the resume to remain at number three, as the loss was the first of their season.
With the conference championships in the books, the playoffs are the next roadblock in Michigan’s plan to win the National Championship. Michigan has proved that they are a team capable of winning it all, and Vegas believes it too, as the Wolverines are second to Georgia at odds to win it all. Based on early speculation, the first round of the playoffs should be #1 Georgia playing against #4 OSU and #2 Michigan facing off against #3 TCU. The NCAA likes their views, but I believe that Georgia against OSU would result in a lot more viewership versus a rematch between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes.