When Shea Patterson announced his transfer to Michigan last December, he did it in the way any college student makes announcements: on Twitter.
As one would expect, the reactions were varied and plentiful, and one of them came from a surprising source.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins quote-tweeted Patterson’s announcement, saying: “Rivalry just got a lot more interesting bro.”
From the outside, it was an innocuous comment from the Wolverines’ rival quarterback, simply commenting on the state of the rivalry.
But Patterson and Haskins know each other well. They were the No. 1 and No. 8 quarterback recruits, respectively, in the 2016 recruiting class, so they went to plenty of camps together. Tuesday, Patterson spoke to media and estimated that he and Haskins have known each other since seventh or eighth grade.
“I would (call us friends),” Patterson said. “We’re not gonna be friends on Saturday, but just like anything else, it’s football. Off the field. Before the game, probably not. Later down the road, yeah.
“But nobody not wearing the maize and blue is my friend on Saturday.”
His relationship with the opposing quarterback is a reminder that Patterson is more familiar than a normal transfer would be with the history surrounding the program he joined.
Patterson grew up in Toledo, Oh. as a Michigan fan — his father was a season-ticket holder — and he says his favorite memories of The Game growing up were of watching highlights of Charles Woodson playing the Buckeyes.
It makes sense Patterson would look back to those games, since Michigan is 2-15 in its last 17 matchups with Ohio State. The last real good Wolverine memories from The Game are the Woodson days from 1995-1997.
Patterson is familiar with that history too, and he knows what Saturday’s edition of The Game means to fans and players alike. However, he also recognizes there is more than just bragging rights at stake this season.
“Obviously, everybody knows how big of a game it is and how much of a rivalry this is to us and them,” Patterson said. “But there’s just a lot more at stake. There’s a Big Ten title and a national playoff spot, so not too sure how often both of us have that opportunity. So there’s a lot more at stake than just the rivalry.”
In that, Patterson is correct.
Michigan has a chance to send itself to the Big Ten Championship and keep its national championship aspirations alive for at least another week.
And, Patterson is to thank for that.
Quarterback play has severely handicapped the Wolverines in past iterations of The Game. Last season, especially, comes to mind, when a consistent quarterback may have been enough to push Michigan over the top in a close matchup.
Patterson has thrown for 2,177 yards, 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season. He has the 17th-best passing efficiency and the 19th-best completion percentage in the country.
His ability to run the ball has changed the dynamic of the Wolverines’ offense, and what they are capable of doing completely.
“Shea has been an integral part of this team,” said fifth-year senior linebacker Noah Furbush. “Really just being an anchor on offense for us. He’s kind of that guy that makes plays for us. He is what you want a quarterback to be — somebody who controls the game, makes plays for you when you need it and really is a leader for your offense and for the team as a whole.”
Patterson’s impact is undeniable, and he can make an impact on Michigan’s history Saturday — if he can do what no Wolverine quarterback, or team, has been able to do since 2000 — beat Ohio State in Columbus.
If there was any Michigan team who had a good chance of doing that, it’s this season’s team, and that is, in part, because of Patterson.
In that sense, it seems Haskins may have been right back in December. Patterson has made this rivalry game a lot more interesting.