Not only did Michigan defeat Minnesota in convincing fashion by a score of 49-24, the Wolverines helped make their initial claim as one of the best teams in the Big Ten.
In Week 1, quarterback Joe Milton showed that he has the ability to lead a special and speedy Michigan offense this season. Milton didn't try to do too much and made several high-level throws on Saturday, showing a lot more touch than he had coming into the game.
In the end, Milton accumulated 225 passing yards and one touchdown to go with 52 rushing yards and another score in what was an all-around clean performance for the first-time Michigan starter.
Giles Jackson's drop on first down opened the door for Minnesota to take a 7-0 lead.
On Michigan's first possession, Michigan had a 2nd and 23 situation where Joe Milton took a stab downfield, launching the ball to Jackson, who had broken free downfield. Jackson dropped the ball right around the first down line to gain, and that forced Michigan to punt inside the shadow of its own end zone.
Will Hart very notably had his punt blocked when Michigan's offensive line protection in the middle fell apart. Right after that, Minnesota had an easy passing touchdown and took a 7-0 lead.
Creative play calling by Michigan OC Josh Gattis
Even from the very first drive, Michigan opened up its playbook and put the ball in the hands of its explosive playmakers. Blake Corum caught a well-paced swing pass and scooted for a solid gain. Giles Jackson showed off his speed and created separation in his routes a couple times before U-M handed him the ball for an eight-yard pickup. Roman Wilson and A.J. Henning were both utilized, and their quickness was apparent from the get go.
Though not all of Gattis' play calls took off, the Wolverines offense looked explosive. Milton got rid of the ball quickly when he was asked to, and he only had a couple misfires, one being a deep shot into the Minnesota end zone. Overall, that's a really consistent
D-Line made a difference tonight
All throughout the offseason, Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye were discussed as one of the elite defensive end tandems in the country, and the dynamic duo put an emphatic stamp on why that is with their performance on Saturday.
Not only did Paye and Hutchinson help set the edge and disrupt running plays, both players broke through the offensive line and forced Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan to be very uncomfortable all night long. Paye logged multiple sacks by sticking to the savvy plan of mostly targeting the right side of the Gophers' offensive line, which featured new starters at guard and tackle. Hutchinson, too, helped flush Morgan out of the pocket on occasion and broke up the rhythm of the Minnesota offense regularly in the process.
Balanced rushing attack made life easy for Milton
All week, Wolverine Digest hammered home how Michigan needed to implement a strong, effective rushing attack to help take the pressure off Joe Milton's shoulders. Well, the Wolverines did exactly that with seven players seeing carries and four breaking into the end zone. Hassan Haskins led the group with 82 yards on the night, but Zach Charbonnet was not far off that pace with 70 yards of his own, most of which came on an explosive run up the middle on Michigan's second drive of the night.
Not only did the trio of Haskins, Charbonnet and Chris Evans produce on the ground, but Milton also chipped in and kept the defense off balance with a team-leading eight carries for 52 yards and a touchdown of his own. This element of Michigan's offense will force defenses to stay honest and can be a useful strategy for U-M all season long.
As a whole, Michigan made a statement on Saturday night. Jim Harbaugh has traditionally struggled with big games on the road against ranked opponents at Michigan, and defeating No. 21 Minnesota tonight was only his second time doing so. Still, Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a 25-point victory in prime time and has Michigan in good shape heading into a Week 2 game against Michigan State.
What was the most important aspect of Michigan's win in your mind? Did the Wolverines surprise you in any way? Let us know!