Michigan starts slow, finishes strong in win over Rutgers
ANN ARBOR (AP) — Jim Harbaugh’s return to the sideline coincided with No. 2 Michigan playing his favorite way, establishing the run and slowing down opponents on the ground.
Blake Corum ran for two touchdowns and 97 yards on 21 carries, helping the Wolverines pull away and beat Rutgers 31-7 on Saturday with Harbaugh coaching after his school-imposed three-game suspension for NCAA recruiting infractions.
Michigan had 201 yards rushing, averaging 5 yards a carry, and gave up just 3.3 yards per run for a total of 77 yards.
“That’s the kind of game Bo Schembechler would’ve been really proud of,” said Harbaugh, who played quarterback for the late coach in the mid-1980s.
The Wolverines (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) started slow and didn’t take their first lead until late in the second quarter when J.J. McCarthy threw a tiebreaking, 18-yard touchdown pass to Semaj Morgan.
Michigan went ahead by 17 points on Mike Sainristil’s 71-yard interception return with 4:31 left in the third quarter, two plays after officials waved off a flag against the Wolverines.
The Scarlet Knights (3-1, 1-1) took a 7-0 lead on the third snap of the game on Gavin Wimsatt’s 69-yard touchdown pass to Christian Dremel, but they missed chances to score more in each quarter.
“You can’t really miss opportunities against a team like that,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said.
Corum capped a 94-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to help Michigan pull into a tie on its second possession.
“Rutgers went up 7-0 and we knew we needed to score just for the energy,” Corum said. “That second drive was a huge part of the game.”
McCarthy was 15 of 21 for 214 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers, a week after throwing a career-high three interceptions.
Wimsatt went 11 of 21 for 180 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He ran six times for 28 yards.
Kyle Monangai ran for 27 yards on 11 carries for the Scarlet Knights.
“They’re very gap sound, they’re a disciplined team, they’re physical,” Monangai said. “Anybody who does that, it’s going to be hard to run the ball against.”
The Scarlet Knights, with a chance to take a two-score lead, negated a 27-yard run with a holding penalty and were called for a false start on third down in the first quarter on a possession that ended with a punt.
Rutgers was called for a false start on fourth-and-1, leaving the Knights with a 51-yard field-goal attempt that Jai Patel missed when the score was tied early in the second quarter.
On fourth-and-2 from the Michigan 27 in the third quarter, Wimsatt was picked off on two plays after officials waved off an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Michigan cornerback Will Johnson.
“It’s the human element,” said Schiano, who didn’t share what the officials’ explanation was on the pivotal play. “Is it frustrating? Sure. Everybody gets frustrated. It’s part of it.”
On fourth-and-6 at the Michigan 19 in the fourth quarter, Wimsatt threw an incomplete pass.