67-65 in multiple overtimes this was not. This meeting between the Illini and Wolverines was much less “college basketball on AstroPlay” than last year. Michigan still won; this time with a different style.
Out of the gates Michigan dominated. They held a 172-13 yardage advantage after one quarter of play; 249-30 at the half. UM tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint had 121 yards rushing, on just three carries at the end of the first period. Yet the Michigan lead was only 14 at intermission.
The Memorial Stadium attendance was 60,676, a sellout- first one this season. And they had reason to come alive when the Illini cut it to 17-7 on Nathan Scheelhaase‘s TD run. However, that optimism was short-lived when Scheelhaase threw a pick-six on the next Illini offensive series.
It took awhile for the Illini offense to wake up; and it didn’t happen in the first half- again. It’s a familiar story; four games in a row Illinois has not scored in the the first half. Their last points in the first two quarters came October 8th versus the Indiana Hoosiers.
“I thought our defense played really well the entire game. We had the one drive at the end of the game where we helped them a little bit with a pass interference call. Greg really mixed in some calls, with some pressures and those kind of things that really helped us,” Michigan Coach Brady Hoke said.
The Wolverines are now 8-2, 4-2 in conference.
After starting 6-0 and rising to #16 in the national rankings, the Illini are now 6-4, 2-4 in the Big Ten.
The Michigan defensive line had their way with an over-matched Illini Offensive line all day. Illinois came in the game ninth in the league in sacks allowed, and you can trace the decline in the play of the offense these past four games directly to the degeneration of the OL performance.
“There is not a lot to say,” Illini Coach Ron Zook said after the game.
“Once again, I thought we had some things fixed and obviously we don’t. Like I just told them in the locker room, we have to push through this. We are in a funk for some reason and it is something particularly on the offensive side of the football, that we have not seen since I have been here. I thought that after we got going the defense played extremely well having their back up against the wall the way they did. I thought we were only down 14 at halftime we had a chance because it could have been 48 to nothing at halftime,” Zook continued.
For Michigan, Toussaint finished the game with 192 yards rushing on 27 carries, two touchdowns. Single threat quarterback Denard Robinson had two rushing touchdowns and 42 yards on the ground. He threw 6-11 for 91 yards and two picks, although one was an end of half desperation heave. Robinson left the game early with a shoulder injury of some sort. It was thought he might return, but instead Devin Gardner finished the game out at QB for the Wolverines.
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks