Balanced ball keeping Michigan on track to Big Ten Championship Game

Wolverines to face Purdue for Big Ten crown

J.J. McCarthy #9 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after scoring a rushing touchdown during the fourth quarter of a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Ben Jackson, 2022 Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – The best teams in college football find a way. That’s been the way of the Michigan Wolverines on this undefeated run into the postseason.

Michigan’s magical season is one that is not defined by any one particular area. It’s been all about playing balanced ball to carry the collective to 12-0.

Not many teams could lose a Heisman hopeful and still produce at a high level.

Running back Blake Corum carried the ball only twice against Ohio State before being taken out of the game. At halftime, the Wolverines had only 10 rushing yards.

No excuses, only excellence ensued in the fourth quarter in Columbus.

Donovan Edwards (with his hand in a cast) broke through the Ohio State defense to seal the game with a pair of 75+ yard TD runs.

The run game finished it, but the passing game started that offensive onslaught in the season finale.

J.J. McCarthy played by far his best college game on the biggest stage.

The Wolverines’ quarterback tossed three touchdowns of 45 yards or more. His longest passing touchdown of the season before then? A 42-yard toss against Hawaii in Week 2.

The Wolverines’ offense is turning into a dominant group, putting up 39.8 points per game. That’s seventh-best in college football this year.

The only thing better? Michigan’s defense. The Wolverines’ defense is one of the most stout units in the country, allowing 12.7 points per game.

What makes that even more impressive is how they’re finishing games on this perfect run late in the season.

In six of their last seven games, Michigan’s held opponents to three points or fewer in the second half. That includes last week against Ohio State.

The Buckeyes’ offense went into last Saturday’s meeting averaging 22.5 points in the second half. The Wolverines held the conference’s highest-scoring offense to only three points in the final two quarters.

On the season, Michigan is giving up 5.4 points per game in the second half. That includes five second-half shutout performances, four of which came during Big Ten play. The Wolverines’ defense has yet to give up more than 14 points over the final two quarters in a game this year.

Right now, Michigan is ranked in the top 10 for both scoring offense and scoring defense. The only other team that can claim that this year? Perennial powerhouse Alabama.

Are the Wolverines becoming that type of team for years to come? We shall see under Jim Harbaugh.

For now, it’s all about staying balanced -- both physically and mentally.

One year at a time and one game at a time, as Michigan seeks to take over the Big Ten for a second straight season with playoff (and championship hopes) still at stake.