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Michigan Wolverines hope to end Big 10 football title drought starting Saturday

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

ANN ARBOR — No. 19 Michigan enters Big Ten play trying to focus only on Rutgers, and yet its school-record conference championship drought is tough to ignore.

The Wolverines (3-0) have not won a Big Ten title since 2004, surpassing the span they went without a conference championship from 1950 to 1964.

While Michigan certainly can’t win a championship on Saturday at home against Rutgers (3-0), a setback would make it difficult for the team to recover from in coach Jim Harbaugh’s seventh season.

Wolverines defensive back Brad Hawkins said his teammates are squarely focused on big goals.

“Just continuing to win games, beat the teams that a lot of people think we can’t beat,” Hawkins said. “Win the Big Ten, make it to the playoffs, things like that. Just continue to grow, prove people wrong.”

The Scarlet Knights are off to their best start since 2012, a year after Greg Schiano’s final season of his first stint at the school.

“We have to go and show that we belong, and we haven’t done that yet,” said Schiano, who returned to the school last year. “We won a couple games, but as I’ve said before, I don’t feel like 2020 was real. I feel like you didn’t get a real picture of every team, but this is real.

“It’s weekends like this that made me want to be in this league. We’re excited about the opportunity. We’re going to go out there and see how we stack up.”

Rutgers has not beaten a ranked team since defeating No. 23 South Florida in 2009.

WHAT A RUSH

Michigan is leading the nation in rushing with a tandem of running backs and a line that seems to be getting better each week.

Blake Corum, who leads the nation’s position players with eight touchdowns, ranks third in the country with 135.7 yards rushing a game. Hassan Haskins is averaging 93.7 yards rushing per game.

Corum is the school’s first running back to have three straight 100-yard games on the ground since current assistant coach Mike Hart did it 11 years ago.