By Will Burchfield
No. 4 Michigan rallied from a 21-7 second-quarter deficit and knocked off Colorado 45-28 on Saturday afternoon at the Big House. It was the first time the Wolverines had trailed this season, but they remained calm amid a nervous atmosphere and slowly turned things around. If it’s good to be tested early, Michigan will benefit from this win down the road.
Here are five takeaways from the Wolverines’ third victory of the season.
1. Peppers Proves his Worth
In a game where Michigan struggled early on, its do-everything Heisman candidate was the glue that held things together. Peppers made a number of strong plays on defense to thwart an otherwise dynamic Colorado offense, and he was simply dynamite on special teams, helping Michigan flip the field with a number of strong returns. In the first half alone, Peppers had 95 all-purpose yards and eight tackles, 2.5 for loss. Michigan needed every bit of his production.
2. D-Line Bounces Back
A week after allowing 312 rushing yards to UCF, Michigan held Colorado to just 64 yards on the ground. It was a critic-answering performance by the Wolverines’ defensive front, which plugged the holes up the middle and consistently contained the edge. The Buffaloes finished with 1.9 yards per carry and not a single rushing touchdown.
3. Team Toughness
Tested for the first time this season, Michigan proved it can take a punch and throw one back. The Wolverines trailed 14-0 after the first 3:30 and 21-7 at the end of the first quarter. From there, they outscored Colorado 35-7. The defense stiffened up and the offense came to life, with both units making the necessary adjustments to erase an early deficit. It won’t be the last time the Wolverines find themselves trailing this season, and they’ll lean on this experience in the future.
4. Chasing Chesson
Wide receiver Jehu Chesson didn’t make a single catch on Saturday, but his presence was felt in the rushing game. He ran for 25 yards on three carries, including a 17-yard touchdown on an end-around that spurred Michigan’s comeback. Chesson’s speed makes him a weapon no matter how he’s deployed, and the Wolverines proved they aren’t shy of stretching his role on offense.
5. A Missing Ingredient
Michigan was without All-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis for the third straight game, and his absence was obvious today. The Wolverines conceded three passing touchdowns, two of which went for over 35 yards. Dymonte Thomas had a particularly rough day in the secondary, getting flat-out burnt on Colorado’s first two offensive scores. It’s hard to imagine he would have played had Lewis been healthy.