12:00 PM ET, November 19, 2011
Michigan Stadium, ANN ARBOR, MI
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan played one of its better games in years.
The Wolverines (No. 18 BCS, No. 20 AP) hope they've saved their best for the last game of the regular season against Ohio State.
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Denard Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores to help Michigan rout Nebraska (No. 16 BCS, No. 17 AP) 45-17 Saturday.
"We have to celebrate this one first, then we'll be all Ohio," Robinson said.
The Robinson-led offense did whatever it wanted, the Wolverines were stingy on defense and outplayed the Big Ten newcomers on special teams.
"It's probably as well as we've played in all three phases," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.
Hoke and his players hope their performance is even better next week at home against the Buckeyes, who have won seven straight in the storied rivalry.
Their fans do, too.
Some of the 113,718 fans at Michigan Stadium on Saturday broke out a "Beat Ohio!" chant in the fourth quarter -- and again after the game.
"It's exciting," Hoke said with a grin.
The Wolverines (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten) moved into second place in the conference's Legends Division and kept their chances of playing in a BCS bowl for the first time since the 2006 season.
The Cornhuskers (8-3, 4-3) lost any hope of playing in the Big Ten's first title game.
Michigan State clinched its spot in the Dec. 3 game in Indianapolis with a win over Indiana and Michigan's victory against Nebraska.
Denard Robinson has 33 career rushing TDs, the sixth-most in Wolverines history. Robinson's four games with two rushing TDs and two passing TDs since the start of last season are matched only by former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.
Most Rushing TDs - Michigan History
The Wolverines, who lost to the Spartans this year, can't win their division, but they have plenty to play for against their archrival.
"We had our opportunities," Hoke said. "Part of competitive sports and completive life is, you have to take advantage of the opportunities."
The Wolverines didn't waste many chances against Nebraska, turning a close game into a rout with 21 straight points after it was tied at 10 and with two more TDs in the fourth quarter.
Robinson, a stingy defense and Cornhuskers miscues -- including three turnovers -- had a lot to do with that.
"You can't play that way on the road and hope to win," coach Bo Pelini said.
Robinson was 11 of 18 for 180 yards with two TDs and an interception. He ran for 83 yards and two scores in three-plus quarters.
"He's a good player," Pelini said. "He made us miss a few times, but we made him a better passer."
Robinson ran for his second TD early in the third quarter to make it 24-10 after Nebraska's Kenny Bell lost a fumble on the kickoff.
The Wolverines had a chance to take a 17-point lead on their next drive but faked a field goal against the flat-footed Cornhuskers with holder Drew Dileo running for a first down to set up Toussaint's 1-yard TD run.
Nebraska pulled within two TDs on the ensuing drive, capped by a crafty play that started with a handoff to Rex Burkhead and finished with an option pitch to Ameer Abdullah for a 3-yard score, but couldn't get closer.
Michigan's defense, which has improved under Hoke after struggling the previous three years with Rich Rodriguez, didn't allow the Cornhuskers to convert a third down until late in the third quarter after they failed on their first seven chances.
"Our mindset has just changed 360 (degrees) and now it's showing," senior defensive tackle Mike Martin said.
And just when it looked as if Nebraska might get some momentum in the game, shutting down Michigan on consecutive drives, Wil Richards was called for roughing the kicker on a punt and the Wolverines put the game out of reach.
Robinson converted a third down in a big way, perfectly heaving a pass from just inside the 50 to the back of the end zone into the hands of Martavious Odoms to make it 38-17 with 10:14 left in the game.
"A lot of people doubt his throwing because he can run so well," Odoms said.
Nebraska's Tim Marlowe lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Taylor Martinez fumbled the next time the Cornhuskers had the ball just after he completed two passes in a row for the first time in the game.
On the next snap, Toussaint ran for a 31-yard TD to make it 45-17.
"I thought our guys were ready to play," Pelini said. "I don't have an answer why we put the ball on the ground twice in the second half. We gave away two possessions."
All in all, the Cornhuskers' first game at Michigan Stadium since 1962 was simply miserable and it might've reminded them of their Big Ten debut this year -- a 48-17 loss at Wisconsin.
Burkhead was held to a season-low 36 yards and didn't score for the first time this season. Martinez was 9 of 23 for 122 yards with a TD and a fumble, one of a season-high three for the Cornhuskers.
"With all the turnovers, it threw us off balance," Martinez said.
The only thing that didn't go well for Michigan was the power supply at the Big House. It went out more than an hour before kickoff, leaving one of the two video boards without power for much of the first half.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... The second half started. Michigan pulled away after leading only 17-10 at the half.
Gameball goes to... Denard Robinson. The Michigan QB threw for 180 yards and two scores and ran for two more.
Stat of the game... 238. The Wolverines dominated on the ground, gaining 238 yards to 138 for Nebraska.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-13||8-18|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||1-1|
|TD||08:17||Jeremy Gallon 6 Yd Pass From Denard Robinson (Brendan Gibbons Kick)||0||7|
|FG||02:03||Brendan Gibbons 42 Yd||0||10|
|TD||01:17||Brandon Kinnie 54 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Brett Maher Kick)||7||10|
|FG||12:12||Brett Maher 51 Yd||10||10|
|TD||06:05||Denard Robinson 14 Yd Run (Brendan Gibbons Kick)||10||17|
|TD||11:23||Denard Robinson 1 Yd Run (Brendan Gibbons Kick)||10||24|
|TD||05:03||Fitzgerald Toussaint 1 Yd Run (Brendan Gibbons Kick)||10||31|
|TD||00:53||Ameer Abdullah 3 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||17||31|
|TD||10:14||Martavious Odoms 38 Yd Pass From Denard Robinson (Brendan Gibbons Kick)||17||38|
|TD||07:33||Fitzgerald Toussaint 31 Yd Run (Brendan Gibbons Kick)||17||45|
Denard Robinson has 33 career rushing TDs, the sixth-most in Wolverines history. Robinson's four games with two rushing TDs and two passing TDs since the start of last season are matched only by former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.[+]
Most Rushing TDs - Michigan History
Denard Robinson now has 10 career games with at least 2 rush TD. That's the most of any Michigan player since 2000.
ESPN Stats & Information