Michigan 45, Colorado 28

Michigan comes from behind the take down Colorado 45-28.

James Coller
A lot of people wanted see Michigan finally get tested. They got tested. And after taking some big body blows and uppercuts in the first quarter, Michigan responded.

"We don't win that game without Jabrill Peppers", Harbaugh said in the post-game presser.

That 1st quarter might be one of the worst quarters of the Harbaugh era at Michigan. Colorado did a lot things everything well, and were also the beneficiaries of a lot of good breaks.

Michigan struggled to do anything offensively. Wilton Speight, after getting hit and fumbling the ball on Michigan's 2nd possession...which immediately turned into a scoop and score for the Buffaloes, struggled to regain the composure and accuracy he displayed in his first two games. 

The running game early on, however, displayed all of the woes they had in the UCF game. It just seemed that Michigan had come out flat. No intensity. They looked like a team lining up to play Hawaii or UCF. Colorado is not a great team, but they do have some talented playmakers.

Defensively in the first quarter, Michigan gave up 195 yards to the #7 ranked offense in the country. Yes, I know they've only played Colorado State and Idaho State. It was a fast and furious start for Colorado...with both teams not quite sure how to react to this sudden turn of events. 

Before most Michigan fans could even reach for their remotes, the score was 21-7 Buffs.

Thankfully...mercifully, the first quarter ended.

What helped Michigan creep back into this game were special teams blunders by Colorado. Penalties, blocked kicks, punting into the back of the offensive line, punting to Jabrill Peppers...all ill-advised moves for a team looking to maintain an early unexpected lead.

It was almost as if Colorado saw they had the lead...and then blinked.

Once Michigan got a handle on Colorado's spread, fast-paced offense, they were able to put the hammer down defensively. Chris Wormley, Rashan Gary and Maurice Hurst set up shop in the Colorado backfield. Blitzes also seemed to be more coherent and effective once Sefo Liufau was rattled a little bit. Part of that was good coverage...the other part was just outright dominance by Michigan's defensive line.

As the game wore on, Michigan got stronger. And as that happened, Colorado began to wilt. When Sefo Liufau went down with an ankle injury early in the 3rd quarter, any remaining life was quickly dranined out of Colorado's offense. It was clear that the senior QB was the focal point of their attack. He took big hits all day from Michigan's aggressive pass rush.

On the day, Colorado was 1 for 13 on 3rd down...with their lone conversion coming with less than a minute left in the game. Michigan had Colorado's offense, sans Liufau, on complete lockdown.

Wilton Speight ended the game 16 of 30 for 229 yards and 1 touchdown. He had multiple passes almost intercepted. I don't think he was ever quite right after that sack/fumble in the 1st quarter. His dump offs to Jake Butt were very helpful though for both Speight's rhythm and Michigan's offense.

But the player of the game was easily Jabrill Peppers. He had 9 tackles, 1 sack, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 kickoff returns for 81 yards, 4 punt returns for 99 yards and a beautiful punt return for a touchdown. The guy simply had A DAY for Michigan when they certainly needed him the most. After all, it was his hit on Liufau that knocked him out of the game. He was the spark Michigan needed time and again today.

For the Wolverines, next up will be the Penn State Nittany Lions back here in Ann Arbor next Saturday.

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