CLOSING

Jim Harbaugh is excited after the 45-14 blast of football from Michigan to Notre Dame on Saturday, October 26, 2019, in Ann Arbor.
Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press

Nine days ago, Michigan football left Beaver Stadium with a devastating loss.

The Wolverines made a brisk comeback after falling behind, 21-0, midway through the second quarter. They outscored Penn State, 21-7, the rest of the way and were one pass in the end zone and an extra point to tie the game.

Michigan's second defeat of the season loaded him with two conference losses, dramatically reducing his chances of winning the elusive Big Ten title.

There were a lot of grim faces in Happy Valley as Michigan players sat and answered questions about what they had been left to play. End of defense Quithe Pie spent much of his time on the podium with his head in his hands.

But the loss also seems to spark Michigan.

In the last week, the Werewolves have been united in their message. They said there was a lot to play. They could build on a failed return to Penn State. This focus would only be on their next opponent: then-No. 7 Notre Dame.

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On Saturday night, Michigan went out into the rain-soaked field and hammered. Fighting the Irish, earning their second victory in the top 10 of the Jim Harbaugh era. The Wolverines put together a complete performance, easily their best game of the season, and showed that they had much to prove.

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"We're making the leaps," said line manager Cam McGrone. "And I believe we always have, we just clicked and, as I said, at Penn State, I think we really found what our team can do and that we can do it whenever we want."

to think that Michigan's 45-year-old novel over Notre Dame seemed familiar, it was.

Faced with non-stop play, the Wolverines revert to a proven game plan for defense and play, With heavy rain affecting both teams' ability to throw and catch the ball, Michigan essentially misses the passing game. In the first half, he had 34 times against four passing attempts.

Works to perfection. The Wolves scored 167 rushing yards in the first half and scored in three straight possessions. Both displaced and confused Notre Dame's front seven with an assortment of indoor and outdoor runways and traps.

Running backs Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnett had plenty of room to run and showed off their talent by making many solid cuts or jacks while creating yards after contact by breaking down.

Hasan Haskins runs against Notre Dame in the second half on Saturday. (Photo: Kirtmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Meanwhile, defense – hit a hole early in Wisconsin and Penn State – has been solid from the start. Notre Dame won the toss and chose to receive; his initial pursuit was most successful by the third quarter and still ended with a point. The Irish were more balanced, with 15 breakthrough attempts and 13 runs in the first half, but to no avail. Michigan won the line of scrimmage, shut down the starter game and silenced an explosive pass game, pushing quarterback Ian Book and playing solid coverage.

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Essentially Michigan reverted to the same formula that urged Walverines up to 10 consecutive wins last season. Saturday night I felt like Michigan's victories over Wisconsin and Pen State in 2018 were categorized as a "rematch" during the stretch of the season. It's a fitting win on Saturday, provided it pays off for last season's loss to open the season at Notre Dame.

Jordan Glasgow, 29, celebrates after breaking a gap in the first half of Saturday. (Photo by Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

It's fair to wonder where this season has been all season. Michigan has already collected 6.5 quarters of football. If he had done this before, the werewolves are likely to still control their own destiny in the Big Ten race;

Until this week, Michigan's season tended to be forgettable. Two weeks ago, she gave up 25 consecutive Illinois points. That shredded to an ugly 10-3 win over Iowa at home. He was muffled in Wisconsin, limping out of the Army at an extra hour, and couldn't stop turning the ball over Middle Tennessee.

Michigan can't wipe the slate. The Werewolves are 6-2. They will need to win and receive considerable help if they hope to reach Indianapolis. The playoffs are out of reach unless a storm of disorders spreads across the country.

However, it is clear to everyone who has watched the last two games that this is a very different team. When Michigan traveled to Wisconsin, the lost fumbles on its original property threw the entire team out of sync.

In Penn State, the Wolverines are by far the better team in the second half.

Cam McGrone (44) and Defense took down Jafar Armstrong from Notre Dame in the second half. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Saturday night almost started the same way. Notre Dame's Chase Claypool made an absurd catch in the sideline for a first down. Then a rough kick for the kicker gave the Irish another set of falls and 15 free yards. Michigan, meanwhile, came out in three places and then had a blocked point.

The Wolverines responded by winning 31 against the No. 7 team in the country at the time.

After the game, Harbaugh repeatedly commented on the level of respect for his players and their ability to bounce. He praised their ability to "continue to work, to develop." According to him, not every team has this quality.

In the first half of this season it was fair to question whether the Wolverines had this ability. Saturday's victory, however, confirmed Harbaugh's words.

"We were playing how we knew we could play," McGrown said. "But we still believe that our best football is yet to come."

It's not so hard to believe him.

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More: Jim Harbaugh of Michigan has silenced critics for at least one night

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang . Read more about Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines Newsletter.

CLOSE

Hasan Haskins, Shay Paterson and Josh Metellus of Michigan discuss a 45-14 hole win over Notre Dame, October 26, 2019.
Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press