NCF Nation: Michigan football


TAMPA, Fla. -- Quick thoughts after South Carolina's wild 33-28 victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl:

It was over when: South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson found receiver Bruce Ellington wide open down the field with 11 seconds left, scoring a 32-yard touchdown. Michigan had scored with 3:29 left on a pass from Devin Gardner to Jeremy Gallon, all part of a fast-paced fourth quarter.

Game ball goes to: South Carolina wide receiver Ace Sanders. The 5-foot-8 wide receiver had a massive game, catching two touchdown passes and breaking a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown. Sanders had nine catches for 92 yards and accounted for three of the Gamecocks’ four touchdowns.

Stat of the game: Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson finished his four-year career with 4,495 rushing yards, setting an NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback. He passed former West Virginia quarterback Pat White, who rushed for 4,480 yards. The two quarterbacks have always been linked because of the coach who recruited them both, Rich Rodriguez.

Turning point: With 8:15 left in the game, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney broke through the Michigan rush and hit Vincent Smith as he took the handoff, crushing Smith, sending his helmet flying and causing a fumble that Clowney recovered. On the next play, Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Sanders that gave South Carolina a 27-22 lead.

Record performance: Jeremy Gallon had a career-high nine catches for 145 yards to go along with his two touchdowns. He was the only Michigan receiver with more than 27 yards and consistently made big plays and grabs. His first touchdown came in the back corner of the end zone and the second one, which gave the Wolverines a late lead, came on a slant in which he beat his defender inside.

Pregame: Outback Bowl

January, 1, 2013
1/01/13
11:08
AM ET
Michigan (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten) vs. South Carolina (10-2, 6-2 SEC)

Who to watch: South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Against a somewhat suspect Michigan offensive line -- other than future NFL first-round tackle Taylor Lewan -- Clowney could have a huge day. He tied for second in the FBS with 13 sacks, and was second in tackles for loss (21.5, 1.95 per game). Between the Wolverines’ line and a running game which rarely produced this season, this sets up well for Clowney.

What to watch: Michigan’s offense. One of the bigger questions for the Wolverines is where senior Denard Robinson will line up and how often. Michigan likely plans on using Robinson at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. In addition to it being Robinson’s last college game -- and a potential preview of what he’ll try to do in the NFL -- he needs 85 rushing yards to tie former West Virginia quarterback Pat White for the FBS quarterback rushing record.

Why to watch: Besides the NFL-level matchup between Clowney and Lewan and the potential explosiveness in Robinson’s last game, this could be a chance to see South Carolina, one of the more promising teams next year, jump-start a run for the 2013 season. The Gamecocks should return most of their offense next season, along with Clowney and a few others on defense, which could set them up for another successful year in the SEC. On the Michigan side, if quarterback Devin Gardner has a good day -- he’s averaged 251.25 yards passing in his four starts -- it could set him up for a special 2013 season.

Prediction: While Michigan’s offense could be very fun to watch and explosive with Robinson moving all over the field, the Wolverines still have the same issues with their running backs and offensive line that they’ve had all season long. Add into that a secondary missing starting cornerback J.T. Floyd because of suspension, and it could be a tough day for Michigan. Gardner and Robinson keep it close on offense, but South Carolina has too much. South Carolina 24, Michigan 17.

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.
Michigan finished off its Big Ten opener by handily beating Purdue, 44-13, in the Wolverines’ first win outside of Ann Arbor this season. The Boilermakers, meanwhile, lost their Big Ten opener.

It was over when: Michigan sophomore cornerback Raymon Taylor intercepted a tipped pass thrown by Caleb TerBush and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown, giving the Wolverines a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. It was the second straight game Taylor intercepted a pass.

Game ball goes to: Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. The senior needed a rebound performance after accounting for five turnovers in a loss to Notre Dame two weeks ago. He did, completing 8 of 16 passes for 105 yards and rushing for 235 more yards. He also showed improved decisions, actually throwing the ball away when pressured and going out of bounds instead of absorbing big hits.

Stat of the game: Purdue’s 56 rushing yards. The Boilermakers were never able to really establish any sort of ground game, led by 34 yards from Akeem Shavers on 10 carries. The lack of a running game made the Boilermakers, who trailed the majority of the game, very one-dimensional.

What it means: For Michigan, it was the best game it had played all year both on offense and defense. The Wolverines were efficient on offense and save for one poor exchange, didn’t turn the ball over. On defense, they flustered Purdue and overall put themselves in position to be a contender in the Legends Division. Purdue might leave Saturday with questions of who to play at quarterback, TerBush or Robert Marve, and some concerns about its previously strong defense.

Record performance: Robinson had another standout day on the ground and became the Big Ten’s career quarterback rushing leader with 3,905 yards, passing former Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El, who had 3,895 yards. He also moved into fourth place in the FBS quarterback rushing career list, passing Randle El. Next up on that list is former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick with 4,112 yards.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan did what it was supposed to do Saturday against UMass, flattening the first-year FBS program 63-13 with another big performance from its quarterback.

The Wolverines were able to build some defensive confidence, play a lot of their younger players and establish some sort of running game before next week's matchup against Notre Dame.

It was over when: Denard Robinson cut across the field on a scramble and ran 36 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The touchdown run gave the Wolverines a 35-10 lead and also gave Michigan complete control after Robinson threw an interception that resulted in a UMass touchdown earlier in the quarter. From there, Michigan routed.

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan was hoping for a strong rebound performance Saturday against Air Force.

It didn't quite get it. But the Wolverines did get a 31-25 victory in a game that came down to the final moments.

It was over when: Michigan redshirt sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan batted down a Connor Dietz pass with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover on downs and giving the Wolverines the win. Air Force had been driving with a chance to win. Ryan also had a career-high 11 tackles.

Game ball goes to: Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. The Wolverines would have lost without him. He accounted for four touchdowns and 426 total yards of offense. He also was Michigan's sole running producer as starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint had just 7 yards on eight carries.

Stat of the game: Michigan freshman tight end Devin Funchess had four catches for 106 yards, the first time a tight end has had 100-plus yards for the Wolverines since Sept. 13, 1997, when Jerame Tuman had five catches for 126 yards.

What we learned about Michigan: Michigan could have some major issues on defense. The Wolverines' defensive line struggled with being cut by Air Force's offensive line and then couldn't get around blocks when they weren't. The linebackers struggled to read the Air Force pitch correctly. The Falcons gashed their way to 290 yards rushing and left the Michigan front seven with questions for the second consecutive week. Robinson, though, played a lot better than he did against Alabama. He completed 14 of 25 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

Record performance: Robinson had the fourth 200-yard rushing game of his career. His two touchdown passes gave him 43 in his career, moving him past Steve Smith (42 touchdown passes) into fifth in school history.

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