- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan put the finishing touches on a 45-0 blowout of Illinois, the Wolverines' first shutout since playing Minnesota last season.
Not a lot went right for Illinois, including losing quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase for the game due to injury in the second quarter, while the Wolverines continued to improve defensively for the third straight game.
It was over when: Denard Robinson returned to the game from injury in the second quarter. Robinson was briefly knocked from the game, but he returned and led Michigan on a drive culminating in a 6-yard touchdown run to give the Wolverines a 17-0 lead. Illinois, which had lost Scheelhaase, never threatened after that.
Game ball goes to: Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan. The redshirt sophomore tied a career high with 11 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He also pressure Illinois’ quarterbacks all day and was a constant presence everywhere for the Wolverines defense.
Stat of the game: 11.6 yards per carry. That was all it took for Robinson on Saturday. He scored two rushing touchdowns to tie Mike Hart for third on Michigan’s career rushing touchdown ledger with 41.
Record performance: Again from Robinson, who passed the 10,000-yard barrier for yards gained with his 49-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Halfway through his senior season, Robinson has 10,065 career yards. He was the eighth player in Big Ten history to pass the 10,000-yard mark.
What it means: In a mediocre season for the Big Ten, Illinois is proving to be one of the league’s worst teams. It still has not lost a game by fewer than 17 points. Michigan, meanwhile, continued to prove it might be the league’s second-best team after Ohio State, meaning the Wolverines could be the league’s best bowl-eligible team this season. Michigan’s defense has also held teams under 14 points in its past four games.