Webblog: Three things I know & three things I think about Michigan after beating Iowa in B1G title game

SAD NEWS: Fans Mourn Their Head Coach AS He……..

Three things we learned about Michigan football after beating Iowa

I KNOW there will be critics of the style in which Michigan won its third consecutive Big Ten Championship (not that it really matters). But what those critics need to realize first is, Iowa’s defense forces opposing offenses to play the way Michigan’s did tonight. Phil Parker’s unit came in ranked no.7 in the country surrendering just 4.04 yards per play. In the Hawkeyes’ blowout loss to Penn State earlier in the year, the Nittany Lions led 10-0 at halftime, just like Michigan did tonight. Then the Nittany Lions tacked on a couple scores in the third quarter, just like Michigan did tonight. The second thing critics need to realize is Michigan played its “B” game tonight. There were uncharacteristic drops, missed blocks, and also some protection issues. Yet the Wolverines still won handily. That’s an ability that only great teams have, and Michigan showed again tonight that it is indeed a great team.

I THINK people outside of Michigan don’t really know how good Mike Sainristil is. If they did, maybe he would have gotten more votes for the Big Ten’s defensive MVP? He certainly deserved them after making big plays in virtually every game this season, and tonight was no exception. “Mikey’s” first impact play was a near interception on 3rd & 3 from the Iowa 43 at the start of the second quarter. His second one was even more impactful — a forced fumble on 3rd & 2 from the Michigan 29. The Hawkeyes were positioned on a short field after a defensive stand and an unlucky bounce for Michigan punter Tommy Doman. Sainristil drove on a short pass over the middle Iowa’s Jaziun Patterson, then delivered a precision hit on the football to dislodge it. It was then recovered by Kris Jenkins. And finally, his final big play of the night was the most impactful of them all… a strip sack on 2nd & 7 from the Iowa 9 that set up the Wolverines’ second touchdown.

I KNOW Semaj Morgan’s punt return was huge. One week after getting caught up in the emotion of beating Ohio State and posting a fiery video on social media (that was quickly deleted), the freshman wideout drew punt return duties Saturday night. He responded with the game’s first big play, an 87-yard return that is now the record for the longest in Big Ten Championship history. It began with a move just after receiving the ball, then he split two unblocked defenders before finding a wall of teammates who led him to daylight. From there it was off to the races before being knocked out of bounds short of the goal line. The former West Bloomfield star was rightly scolded for his postgame rant about the Buckeyes, but he wasn’t benched for it like some on social media suggested. It was a coachable moment that Morgan almost certainly learned from. Once he had, he earned the opportunity to go back out and help his team. And he made the most of it.

 THINK it’s hard to perform up to the level of an all-time great, especially when following immediately behind one. But that’s what James Turner was tasked with doing this season. Jake Moody is widely regarded as the best kicker in Michigan’s history, so when Turner missed two of his first five field goals in the early going, questions about whether he could meet his predecessor’s efficiency standard began to fester. All he did after that was nail 13 straight field goals, including four tonight, and two fifty-yarders (one versus Ohio State and one tonight). Moody finished last year 29/35 (82.85%). Turner is 16/18 (88.88%) thus far this season, which means he’s been money, too.

I KNOW the four weeks between games will be a major benefit to Michigan. It was revealed during the Ohio State broadcast that J.J. McCarthy had missed practice time leading up to the Maryland game the week prior due to being banged up. He has gotten better in the weeks since, but he still wasn’t quite the running threat he had been prior to the Penn State game. Will Johnson also has a nagging injury… one he aggravated versus Ohio State, forcing him to miss the majority of the fourth quarter versus the Buckeyes, and the entire Big Ten championship game as a result. And then, lastly is Drake Nugent. The Wolverines’ center was on the “questionable” list with Johnson heading into tonight’s game, and also had an injury timeout in the early going. All three injuries are the kind that can significantly better with weeks of recovery time. Getting them back closer to 100% is one of the keys to U-M’s quest for a national championship.

I THINK Michigan and Washington will be joined by Alabama and Georgia in the college football playoff. Alabama just won the SEC Championship, and there’s no way the winner of that league is going to be left out of the playoff, even if they did lose to Texas back in week two. Which brings us to Georgia — two-time defending national champ, the committee’s no. 1 team the last three weeks, and the squad that just last month beat no. 12 Missouri, no. 9 Ole Miss, and no. 18 Tennessee in consecutive weeks. Will a three-point loss in the SEC championship game to an Alabama team that is better than it was when it lost to Texas in week two, convince the committee that the Longhorns are more deserving of a spot than the Bulldogs? I don’t think it will. The committee will choose the four best teams right now, and I think it will conclude that Georgia is still one of the four best teams. The biggest casualty in this equation will be an undefeated Florida State team that will be penalized for the season-ending injury to quarterback Jordan Travis. The committee factors injuries into its assessments of playoff-worthiness, and simply put, FSU is a different team without Travis.

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