To Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, there’s almost nothing as beautiful as a 31-0 shutout. That the blowout win over No. 22 Brigham Young vaulted the Wolverines into the top 25 for the first time since Nov. 2, 2013, was simply icing on the cake.
Harbaugh said after the game that Michigan seems to be coming together as a unit, and in many ways looks better than expected.
The Daily breaks down the good, bad and ugly from the Wolverines’ dominant win over the Cougars.
The short answer is that pretty much everything was good. But as nice as it is to simply perform well, the most notable of Michigan’s successes Saturday was its ability to shore up problematic areas from past games.
The run game continued to lead the way with 253 yards and three touchdowns, but fifth-year senior quarterback Jake Rudock looked drastically improved from the previous week. Instead of missing open receivers or throwing interceptions, Rudock found the open man, and he made plays with his feet when he couldn’t.
Rudock finally looked like the playmaking leader he was at Iowa, rushing for 33 yards and two touchdowns to go with 190 yards, one passing touchdown and no interceptions.
Another drastic improvement came from senior receiver Amara Darboh. Reeling in four catches for 54 yards, a touchdown and a highlight-reel catch that made the No. 3 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays, Darboh earned the game ball just two days after becoming a U.S. citizen.
If we’re defining bad in the modern “cool” way, not as a negative, the Wolverines’ defense was as bad as it gets. Recording their first shutout since blanking Illinois in 2012, Michigan allowed just 105 total yards and never let the Cougars into field-goal range.
The defense was expected to wreak havoc all season, but was in rare disruptive form Saturday. Playing an aggressive man coverage in the secondary and swarming the backfield on nearly every snap, the Wolverines completed all of their goals as a unit, including the coveted blank slate.
“It’s great to be a part of a shutout,” said Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. “Everybody did a great job — players, coaches, everybody. When you only give up 105 yards, that’s really special. We were outstanding in so many areas.”
After surrendering just 14 points in its three-game homestand, Michigan now has the nation’s fourth-best scoring defense at 9.5 points allowed per game to go with its second-best total defense (205.3 yards per game).
As great as Michigan’s defense was Saturday, BYU looked nothing like the ranked power it was expected to be before the game. Freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum — a hero with two Hail Mary in the three weeks that led to Saturday’s game — was a mess from start to finish, completing just 12 of 28 passes for 55 yards.
The Cougars didn’t stop there. Bad snaps, fumbles and late-hit penalties ensured BYU never had a chance at winning, even if Michigan hadn’t played so well.
“They executed and dominated the game,” said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. “It always hurts more than anything else to not have our team execute or be super sharp or disciplined or perform the way that I believe to be capable.”