Ouch. That won’t hurt. The good news is we dialed up the appropriate offensive strategy and let it rip. For 20 minutes you got that oh so 2000 feeling as Northwestern and Michigan marched up and down the field on one another. The ‘Cats picked off the incredible Denard Robioson three times in the first half and had Ryan Field rocking as we entered halftime up 24-14. However, Shoelace emerged a new man in the second half and continued his Heisman march with 455 total yards and 4 TDS in a flat out clinic as Michigan shutout Northwestern in the second half.
Northwestern, as expected, put a defensive gameplan in place to stuff the run and force Robinson to beat NU through the air. Despite huge passing numbers in the first half, the strategy was working as Ibraheim Campbell had a pair of picks and Brian Peters added a third to contribute to a bend but don’t break defense. Northwestern meanwhile came out firing like we’d hoped and Persa was up-tempo with pass after pass connecting. However, it would be NU’s receivers getting a bit of the dropsies costing Persa a first half TD at the end of the half and Drake Dunsmore bobbling a pass would lead to an INT. Jeremy Ebert fumbled after a five yard gain as well and those two turnovers turned out to be too much as Denard was simply unstoppable in the second half.
Persa outpassed Denard by a mere 3 yards going 31/42 for 328 yds but had no TDs and 1 INT while Denard had 4 TDs. The ‘Cats sure were creative utilizing Venric Mark on both sides of the ball and Kain Colter was a threat as a WR. The first half had that big time game kind of feel, but the second half was all Michigan. The Wolverines put up 529 yards of offense on NU including 350 in the air. The story of the game was our inability to get pressure on the pass and Michigan’s remarkable 13/17 third down conversion percentage. Denard had all day back there in third and long and he torched us with it.
I claimed this was a Super Bowl Saturday and well, we fizzled. I have no problem with the offensive gameplan and I had issue with only one series, after Campbell’s second INT got called back for a penalty and we went in reverse only to call a Jacob Schmidt draw on 3rd and 18. Really?
Michigan’s receivers made the big plays and won every jump ball, just like we feared. There is no way to hide the disappointment on this one, especially after posting a 10-point hafltime lead that evaporated almost instantly in the third quarter. Now, NU must play for pride as the division title is out of reach and we’re 2-3 and 0-2 in the Big Ten. The good news is that every one of our remaining games is winnable, I truly believe that. However 2011 was supposed to be our 2000 and we’re on the brink of it becoming 2001. We’ll serve up The Great, The Good & The Disappointing tomorrow as I must admit this surgery recovery is more than I expected. Good night everyone.