Michigan football: It was Rutgers, but Wolverines found their swagger

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

It may have come against lowly Rutgers, but Michigan football appeared to find its swagger again Saturday at the Big House.

No, Michigan football didn’t shock the world Saturday.

The Wolverines rolled over Rutgers, 52-0 at Michigan Stadium. That’s the result that everyone expected. That’s the result their talent would dictate.

That’s just the result Michigan needed.

When Wisconsin steamrolled the Wolverines, 35-14, last Saturday, it marked the nadir of Jim Harbaugh‘s four-plus years in Ann Arbor. It seemingly proved, once and for all, that Michigan didn’t have the identity/strategy/preparation/mentality/”it”-factor that it took to win tough road games against quality teams.

That’s a sentiment that was never going to be erased in one week unless Ohio State was coming to town. Instead, the Scarlet Knights rolled into the Big House waiting to be sacrificed.

So the Wolverines placed them on the altar and slaughtered them.

On Michigan’s first drive, Shea Patterson tossed a pass to Nico Collins on the left sideline. Collins, with no one around him, scampered 48 yards for the score and showed that maybe Speed in Space isn’t quite a pipe dream.

Speaking of Speed in Space, its creator, Josh Gattis, moved down to the field from the sideline for the first time this year. As opposed to last week when the Wolverines played listlessly on offense and seemed devoid of an identity, their offensive coordinator’s presence was a welcome sight. It was a symbol that this was, definitively, Gattis’ offense, and Gattis’ offense rolled up 476 yards and 52 points.

Later in the first quarter, Patterson darted into the end zone on a naked bootleg. Then, in the second quarter, he rolled out and surveyed his targets in the end zone. Seeing nobody, he made up his mind — he was scoring himself — and didn’t let Rutgers change it, diving onto the patch of blue turf.

Patterson threw for 276 yards while completing 74 percent of his throws, the highest percentage of the season. The maligned offensive line helped out, pushing around the Scarlet Knights and allowing only one sack.

Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski completed as many of his passes as Patterson, but for barely one-third the yardage. Isaiah Pacheco and Raheem Blackshear, the bright spots of the Scarlet Knights offense, were held to 34 yards on 16 carries.

In a fashion typical of a Don Brown defense, the Wolverines flew to the ball and brought the wood on Rutgers’ ballcarriers. Like this, from Daxton Hill in the first quarter:

Hill’s hit exemplified how Michigan set the tone. Like Wisconsin did to them in Madison, the Wolverines told Rutgers they were the best team on the field and then proved it.

And if you prefer your statements to be spoken, maybe take this from freshman linebacker Cam McGrone, who had a breakout game in his first start:

The Wolverines will have to back that up as the season goes along. But McGrone’s attitude is an attitude that could take them there.

Sure, no one saw Saturday playing out as anything other than a bloodbath. But the fact that it did is an encouraging sign anyway.

It’s a sign that Michigan has the ability to put the Madison debacle behind it. To go out, play football and play football with swagger.

dark. Next. Key takeaways from Rutgers

At the very least, it’s a start.