Today, Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins had 103 yards receiving, the fifth time that he has hit the C-Note this season. He's now tied for fourth all time in school history for 100 yard games; in both a season and career. But you wouldn't guess that from watching how the offense played today. Overall, that side of the ball is really struggling in Champaign.
67-65 in multiple overtimes (last year's score) 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.
“It’s more about the team, everyone looked each other in the eyes and said, ok let's go do this, let's finaly come together and let's do this,” said Michigan Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison.
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.
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.
Really, it was all about the Michigan D stuffing the Illini, and Scheelhaase, who up until the four games had been an explosive dual threat.
“They (Michigan defense) kept going, and that takes a lot, when you have a guys that scrambles like him, and is explsive with the ball, they played assignment football to keep up from getting hurt by the quarterback running the ball,” Mattison continued.
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