There were certainly some jitters in the Michigan fanbase about facing a bizarre, tough-to-crack team like Army in Week 2, but only the most cynical of Wolverines could have predicted the struggle that unfolded on Saturday afternoon in The Big House. Plenty of Michigan mistakes and just straight-up poor offensive play kept the Black Knights in the game beyond regulation, but with a fumble recovery in double overtime, the Wolverines avoided a major upset and won 24-21.
Turnovers were the story, as each team made three of them. All of Michigan’s came in the first half, and that’s primarily the reason why Army held a 14-7 lead at the break. But while they certainly weren’t creating their own luck with the trio of fumbles they lost, Michigan also found themselves disadvantaged by an iffy whistle that didn’t let defensive back Josh Metellus return a fumble recovery to the end zone with the game deadlocked at 7-7 in the first quarter. (The Wolverines would give away their own fumble on the very next play.)
A Michigan interception in the red zone on Army’s first possession of the second half, followed by a touchdown drive of their own, knotted the scoring and stifled the underdog’s momentum. But Wolverines QB Shea Patterson played all out of sorts, and on multiple occasions, the team’s new-look spread offense looked clueless about what to do on short-yardage situations and paid the price. Neither team would score again until overtime, where they would trade touchdowns before Michigan scored a field goal and forced that winning fumble on a rare Army dropback.
It’s not all gloomy news for Michigan, however. Oklahoma found themselves in almost the exact same situation last year—beating Army at home 28-21 in overtime in September—and they went on to win their conference. If still-undefeated Michigan manages to copy that performance, it’ll be their first Big 10 title since 2004.