Three things we learned about Michigan after losing to MSU

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The undefeated Wolverines went on the road to face the undefeated Michigan State Spartans on Saturday — for the battle for the state of Michigan.

ESPN College GameDay and Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff were in East Lansing on Saturday for what many considered, the game of the year, to date — it sure lived up to the hype. In an instant-classic type of game, the Spartans edged out the Wolverines, 37-33.

In the first half, Michigan dominated on the offensive side of the ball. The Wolverines were able to do anything they wanted thru the air — Cade McNamara played as good as he has all year. We got to see a break-out performance by East Lansing (Mich.) native Andrel Anthony, who caught two touchdown passes and finished with 6 catches for 155 yards. The defense gave up two touchdowns in the first half, and the Wolverines also intercepted two passes from Payton Thorne.

However, somehow, it wasn’t enough.

While Cade McNamara and the Michigan offense did all they could in the first half, the second half belonged to Kenneth Walker III. The Wake Forest transfer rushed for five touchdowns en route to a big win for the Spartans.

Here are three things we learned about Michigan.


Predicting every Big Ten college football game in Week 9

Michigan couldn't overcome mistakes

Photo by: Isaiah Hole

Michigan, with plenty of help with non-calls and reviews from the officials, had beyond its fair share of mistakes in the game on Saturday.

The Wolverines had two turnovers on the day — both by the quarterback position — and they were both in crucial situations. J.J. McCarthy had two fumbles, only one of which he lost, which game from a botched handoff between he and Blake Corum. That fumble led to a Spartans 24-yard touchdown run by Kenneth Walker III.

The second turnover came on the last possession of the game. Cade McNamara threw an interception on a 50/50 ball. McNamara was looking to lead Michigan to a game-winning drive with not much time left, and he appeared to have stared down his target which led to a pick from the Spartans.

There were other things that haunted the Wolverines, like the red zone — something we’ve discussed on these pages ad nauseum. The Wolverines were forced to kick three field goals in the red zone during the game, and in a high-intensity game like this, field goals aren’t enough, you need touchdowns. It seems to be an issue that the play-calling gets a little tight when the maize and blue reach the red zone, and it is something that needs to be fixed.

The offense had a really good day, but the player of the game was Kenneth Walker III. The Wolverines allowed him to score five touchdowns in the game and the defense appeared to be a step slow most of the game. The Wolverines found themselves in a subbing issue, where the Spartans wouldn’t sub, but Michigan wanted to. There were several flags on the Michigan defense for illegal substitution, and by the fourth quarter, that shouldn’t have been an issue.

Hello, Andrel Anthony

Photo by: Isaiah Hole

We have been hearing talk about how true-freshman Andrel Anthony has been turning heads in practice, and we saw him on the field last week in Northwestern some, but Anthony didn’t record a catch.

What better place to have a break-out game than your hometown? That’s what Anthony did on Saturday. The East Lansing native had a game of this life against the Spartans. Anthony’s first career catch came on Michigan’s first drive where he took a McNamara pass 93-yards for a touchdown.

He was just getting started though. On the fifth drive for the Wolverines, J.J. McCarthy threw an 18-yard pass — one where only his receiver could catch it — for a touchdown. Andrel Anthony ended the first half with four catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns.

Anthony ended the day with 6 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. While he was held in check in the second half, he still had a great day, and fans should be excited for what brings to the table.

Michigan has been looking for someone to step up with the absence of Ronnie Bell, and maybe this will be his replacement for the rest of the year.

McNamara can lead the offense

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Yes, McNamara threw the game-ending interception, but he also had a career day.

McNamara threw for 383 yards and two touchdowns and played an almost flawless game save for the last drive. Fans have been wanting to see more of J.J. McCarthy due to McNamara not being able to hit the deep ball. McNamara proved a lot of people wrong today with his command of the offense.

In fact, I would think this game will boost McNamara’s confidence for the rest of the season and we may see more of what he did on Saturday.

The Wolverines still brought their two-quarterback system into play on Saturday, and while McCarthy threw a nice touchdown to Anthony, he still had one key turnover on a simple handoff. I question why the coaches wouldn’t lean on the veteran like McNamara late in the game instead of playing the true freshman. McNamara was shredding the MSU secondary most of the game, and who knows what happens if McNamara is in for that play.

Again, yeah, McNamara threw the last interception of the game, but credit to him for having a career-high game against a very good team.