COLLEGE PARK, Md. — After a win-securing, first-down plunge by Blake Corum, Michigan’s equipment staff began scurrying along the sideline, getting signs with the number “1,000” ready to distribute.
When the clock expired and No. 3 Michigan had defeated Maryland 31-24 on Saturday, Wolverines players, coaches and staff gathered near midfield at SECU Stadium for a photo to commemorate the program’s historic victory. Amid the turmoil of an NCAA investigation, with coach Jim Harbaugh suspended for the second straight game and a day after beloved linebackers coach Chris Partridge was fired, Michigan made sure to mark the moment, commemorating 1,000 wins.
“We need to edit [Harbaugh] in [the photo],” said Wolverines acting head coach Sherrone Moore, who led the team for the second consecutive week and third time this season. “We’ve got the technology in the world today that we can get that done. It’s historic to be a part of this university, this place, this team.
“The guys were just ecstatic to get that 1,000th win, but they all knew exactly what time it was after that.”
Michigan’s final game before next week’s home showdown against No. 2 Ohio State required key plays in all three phases, especially on defense, after the Wolverines built a 23-3 lead midway through the second quarter. They recorded a safety on special teams — linebacker Christian Boivin’s blocked punt led Maryland to kick the ball out of the end zone — and on defense. The defense also accounted for a touchdown on Michael Barrett’s strip-sack and Derrick Moore’s walk-in recovery.
Harbaugh traveled with Michigan for the second straight road game, but unlike last week at Penn State, there would be no drama about his stadium status. After initially planning to challenge the Big Ten’s suspension of Harbaugh, Michigan dropped its lawsuit Thursday, a response to new evidence in the NCAA investigation of prohibited sign stealing, sources told ESPN.
As Harbaugh watched the game nearby, Michigan held a one-score lead for most of the second half but repeatedly turned Maryland away in key moments.
“It would have been an honor, it would have been great to have [Harbaugh] on the field with us to take that picture,” said defensive back Mike Sainristil, who had two interceptions to bring his season total to five. “There’s no doubt in my mind that when we get back to this airport, he’s going to be there waiting for us. We’ll probably take 10-15 minutes to take another picture at the airplane with him, just be able to celebrate and cherish this moment.”
Michigan knew Thursday that Harbaugh wouldn’t be on the sideline at Maryland, but the program sustained another blow Friday when Partridge was fired. Sources told ESPN that Partridge, who twice served as a Michigan assistant under Harbaugh, tampered with the NCAA investigation and the evidence being gathered.
The team promoted analyst Rick Minter, a longtime college coach and the father of defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, to linebackers coach, and also received help from defensive graduate assistant LaTroy Lewis.
“Obviously, a lot of emotion going into it,” Boivin said. “But we’re ready, we’re built for adversity. We have the coaching staff, as well as the players, to handle stuff like that.”
After finishing last week’s win at Penn State with 32 consecutive rushes, Michigan’s offense had a more uneven performance against Maryland, generating only one scoring drive in the second half. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s streak of 158 consecutive pass attempts without an interception ended late in the first half, and he completed only 12 of 23 passes for 141 yards.
Michigan won for the first time since 2020 when its offense was outscored by the opponent’s (24-20).
Maybe we needed this test a little bit,” said Corum, a Virginia native who played before a large group of family and friends. “We needed a close game like this.”
Sherrone Moore was less emotional after Saturday’s game, saying he looked forward to celebrating his daughter’s birthday that night. The 37-year-old who oversees Michigan’s offense and offensive line joked that his mother is visiting next week and “she’s probably going to yell at me” for cursing on national TV following the Penn State win.
Harbaugh will once again lead game-planning and practices for Ohio State before sitting out the third and final game of his suspension. A win would move Michigan closer to another program milestone — three straight outright Big Ten championships — and a return to the College Football Playoff. A loss likely would knock the Wolverines out of the CFP picture.
“We all know what time it is,” Barrett said. “We knew where our attention was going to go. It feels great to be a part of this kind of game, coming in undefeated with everything going on, showing how this team’s able to face adversity, work through adversity and keep that one-track mind we’ve been preaching all year.
“To be here at this point, it’s a great feeling.”