No. 4 Michigan got a bit of a wake-up call on Saturday but was still able to come away with a win.
The Wolverines opened the season with blowout victories over three of the worst teams in the FBS but received a significant challenge from Maryland. The Terps had a lead for a big chunk of the first half and made it a one-possession game late in the fourth.
But in the end, Michigan was able to withstand a strong effort from the Terps and emerge with a 34-27 victory.
It might have gone the other way without an outstanding performance from Blake Corum, Michigan’s veteran running back. Corum was the best player on the field as he reeled off two long touchdown runs and finished the day with a career-high 243 yards on 30 carries.
With Maryland leading 13-10 in the final 30 seconds of the first half, Corum broke loose for a 33-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 play to give the Wolverines a 17-13 lead at halftime. And then late in the fourth quarter, after a potential game-tying Maryland drive was thwarted by an interception, Corum finally put the game out of reach with a 47-yard touchdown.
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Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy was up and down in his first Big Ten start. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns, but made some questionable decisions along the way. He held the ball way too long on several plays, missed a few easy throws and missed multiple opportunities to take off and run.
McCarthy was in a competition with Cade McNamara for the starting job in preseason. That battle extended into the season and McCarthy eventually got the nod over McNamara, who led Michigan to a Big Ten title last season.
McCarthy has a much more dynamic skill-set than McNamara and showed that early in the year — but that came against Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn. Maryland represented a significant jump in competition. That was evident for the Wolverines as a whole, not just McCarthy.
Even after the Terps spotted Michigan a 7-0 lead by fumbling the opening kickoff, they were able to move the ball with ease for much of the first half. The Terps tied the score at 10-10 late in the first and later took a 13-10 lead.
In the second half, Michigan started to get some pressure on Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa and McCarthy got into a better rhythm. McCarthy found Roman Wilson for a 20-yard score early in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, a vicious hit knocked Tagovailoa from the game for a short period.
Tagovailoa would return and cut the UM lead to 24-19 with a touchdown pass at the 9:10 mark of the fourth but he threw a costly interception later in the fourth when the Terps had a chance to tie the game.
For Michigan, now 4-0, there is plenty to work on with a trip to Iowa coming next weekend and games against Big Ten East foes like Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State on the horizon.
Maryland, meanwhile, drops to 3-1 but has the looks of a potentially dangerous team as the Big Ten schedule progresses.