By JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
In Michigan’s last non-conference game of the season, they weren’t expected to be very tested. Going into the contest against Colorado favored by 19.5 points, the Wolverines were looking to dispatch the Buffaloes fairly similar to their first two opponents.
But Colorado wasn’t going to let that happen–not early on at least. The Wolverines used an energized second half to defeat the Buffaloes 45-28.
The Buffaloes (2-1) led No. 4 Michigan (3-0) 21-7 at the end of the first quarter. Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau was taking advantage of a wide open middle of the field and converted on nine of his 11 passing attempts totaling 150 yards and two touchdowns.
But then in the middle of the second quarter, a break went Michigan’s way. Buffaloes punter Alex Kinney booted the ball into the back of one of his blockers just a couple yards ahead of him. The ball went past Kinney and Michigan was set up with terrific field position. Two plays later Jehu Chesson took a handoff 17-yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to seven.
After getting three more points, the Wolverines were down by four right before halftime. With just 33 seconds left in the half Wilton Speight hit Amara Darboh for a 45-yard touchdown pass. Michigan had finally took the lead for the first time in the game.
To scare the crowded Big House a little more, Colorado scored just three plays into the second half on a 75-yard pass from Liufau to Shay Fields.
Michigan would counter that by scoring on their next drive after getting a short field to work with thanks to a 55-yard kickoff return by Jabrill Peppers. That would be the last time Colorado would have the lead as Michigan scored 21 unanswered points to defeat the Buffaloes.
Peppers recorded his first punt return touchdown after coming close on numerous occasions in the last year. He had a hard time putting the touchdown into words.
“It was indescribable I think I was just laid there, I was like ‘finally’ the guys did a great job of giving me a crease,” Peppers said. “They trust me enough to hit what I see and make something happen and I think that’s what I did.”
Peppers would finish the game with 204 total yards and nine tackles including one sack. He got his first action on the offensive side of the ball getting two carries for 24 yards.
Speight did not have his best game, barely completing 50 percent of his passes. There might have been a reason for it as he was hit hard by a Buffalo in the first quarter and was a bit shaken up after the play. Speight had ice wrapped around his shoulder after the game but said it wasn’t anything major.
“(It’s) nothing major, just that hit I took with the fumble (I got) hit in the sweet spot, just being precautionary,” Speight said.
De’Veon Smith led the rushing attack for the Wolverines, totaling 87 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown. Jake Butt led all receivers with 87 yards on seven catches. This was the first game he was held without a touchdown.
With the win against Colorado concluding the non-conference part of the schedule for the Wolverines, it is fair to say Michigan lived up to expectations against the early part of their tilt and maybe even exceeded them.
They will open up Big Ten play next weekend at home against Penn State. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.