By: Will Burchfield
Michigan fans finally got their wish.
After quarterback John O’Korn went 3-6 for 13 yards and an interception over the Wolverines’ first four drives on Saturday versus Rutgers, Jim Harbaugh replaced with him with redshirt freshman Brandon Peters.
Peters, who entered midway through the second quarter with the score tied at seven, promptly led Michigan on two touchdown drives.
On the first, he went 3-3 for 42 yards — much to the delight of the hometown fans. Karan Higdon finished things off with a 10-yard scamper.
On the second, a hurry-up drive that began with 1:49 left in the half and covered 49 yards in 1:26, Peters went 2-4 for 32 yards. He was very nearly picked off on first-and-10 from the Rutgers’ 20, but rebounded on the next play to find Chris Evans on a well-thrown lob down the sideline to put Michigan up 21-7.
The Wolverines carried that lead into the locker room.
A large portion of Michigan’s fan base has been clamoring for Peters to play for much of this season, even before starter Wilton Speight went down with a back injury in September. The 20-year-old pro-style quarterback from Indiana was one of the top-ranked players at his position in the 2016 recruiting class.
Harbaugh has resisted thrusting Peters into game action, but he didn’t have much of a choice on Saturday. O’Korn, on top of his poor passing numbers, fumbled twice — though he recovered on both occasions. The senior was given plenty of opportunities to seize the starter’s job in the wake of Speight’s injury, and failed to do so.
Peters began warming up after Michigan went three-and-out on its fourth drive, featuring a fumble and two incompletions by O’Korn. He entered the game to cheers from a mostly subdued crowd at the Big House. Those cheers grew louder with each completion.