The theme has been a constant throughout the season, this one was over in the first quarter.
Coming off a bye week, it'd be easy for Michigan to show some rust or have a slow start thanks to the week off. That was certainly not the case as the Wolverines (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) jumped out to a 21-0 lead over the Illini (2-5, 1-3 Big Ten) in the first quarter and never looked back, cruising to a 41-8 victory
Though it wasn't Rutgers level domination by the Wolverines defense, it had another solid week shutting an opposing offense down. Illinois started third-string quarterback Jeff George Jr. on Saturday and he struggled mightily. Going through the entire first half without a completion, the Wolverines finally conceded a completion and yardage through the air midway through the third quarter.
While the Illinois offense was moving backward, the Wolverines offense was doing the opposite. Quarterback Wilton Speight added two passing touchdowns in the first quarter, a three yard strike to tight end Jake Butt and a 21 yard score to tight end Tyrone Wheatley Jr. Rounding out the scoring in the first quarter, fullback Khalid Hill also added a short-yardage touchdown to bring his rushing total to eight touchdowns for the season.
Speight finished the game completing 16 of 23 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
In the second half, it was more of the same for the Wolverines. The defense cruised and the offense appeared to take its foot off the gas a little bit, understandably so. U-M added a field goal late in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 34.
The Illini finally struck pay dirt in the fourth quarter on a 43 yard pass from George to Malik Turner midway through the quarter to snap U-M's 119-point and shutout streak. Illinois went for two and successfully converted it to make the score 34-8. U-M responded with a touchdown of its own, a 45 yard run by running back Karan Higdon.
Higdon led the way for the running backs, finishing the game with 106 yards and one touchdown.
U-M forced the Illinois offense into two turnovers in a game where, once again, the defense shined when the first team was playing. The defense allowed 172 total yards and made life difficult for George, forcing him to make difficult throws. Meanwhile, the offense compiled over 500 total yards and 27 first downs on Saturday
Saturday's win marks the first time since 2006 that the Wolverines have started the season 7-0.
Next week, the Wolverines head to East Lansing to take on Michigan State at noon.
News and Notes:
Running back Chris Evans appeared to be concussed after a hit suffered in the second quarter and did not return to the game.