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Michigan offensive player to watch: Quarterback Shea Patterson

After a slow, average start to the season, Patterson is playing “the best football of his life”

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

According to the Detroit Free Press, senior quarterback Shea Patterson “is playing the best football of his life.” Over his past two games (against Michigan State and Indiana) he has thrown 41-of-58 for 750 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception— his first turnover in 17 quarters— passed Tom Brady’s school record for passing yards, and earned “Offensive Player of the Week” honors from the Big Ten for both weeks.

However, Patterson playing “the best football of his life” certainly hasn’t been true all season. After getting injured in the Wolverines’ season-opener, Patterson completed 54.7 percent of his passes, nine passing touchdowns and four interceptions through the first seven games of the season.

As Derick Hutchinson of Click on Detroit wrote:

Patterson was a fumbling machine, regularly missed his receivers and couldn’t execute the read option. He was either lost in the new offense or injured -- or perhaps a little of both.

Michigan fans were calling for his head while the backups started closing in on the starting job. But, coaches stuck with their senior and eventually, after their loss to Penn State, Patterson bounced back, bumping his completion percentage to 63.6% just in time for Rivalry Week.

Last season against the Buckeyes, Patterson completed 20-of-34 passes for 187 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. While that’s a solid performance, he’s gonna have to do a heck of a lot better than that against this year’s Ohio State defense.

Patterson ranks near the top in just about every quarterback category in the Big Ten— No. 4 in pass completions (179) and passing touchdowns (21) and No. 3 in passing yards (2,523). None of that matters, though, if he doesn’t deliver a W on Saturday. As former Michigan quarterback Brian Griese said, “You’re judged at Michigan by what you do against Ohio State.”

In other words, Saturday’s game will quite literally determine whether or not Patterson’s legacy will be defined as “one of Michigan’s greatest quarterbacks of all time” or “just another quarterback who couldn’t beat Ohio State.” Not only that, but Patterson is 13-0 as a starting quarterback at the Big House, and to have the Buckeyes of all teams ruin his perfect record? Yeah. Expect Patterson to be at his very best.

Honorable Mention

A quarterback is only as good as his receivers and lucky for Patterson, he has one heck of a target in junior WR Nico Collins, who scored twice against the Buckeyes last season. Last weekend against Indiana, Collins had six receptions for 165 yards and three touchdowns—which included a 76-yard touchdown run. He now leads the team with 649 receiving yards, seven touchdown catches, and 20.9 yards per catch.

Last week, Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade was up against the Nittany Lions’ best receiver, KJ Hamler. Wade kept him to only three receptions for 45 yards. Whether it’s Wade, Jeff Okudah, or Damon Arnette, Collins will soon face his toughest test yet against Ohio State’s cornerbacks.

Unfortunately, Michigan has a trio of receivers who are sure to keep Wade, Okudah and Arnette busy on Saturday. Ronnie Bell has 37 receptions for 616 yards and one touchdown and Donovan Peoples-Jones has 30 receptions for 335 yards and five touchdowns.