Wolver­ines fire on all cylin­ders in rout of Wild­cats

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY LARRY LAGE

ann ar­bor, mich. — Jim Har­baugh tries to tem­per the en­thu­si­asm about his rapidly im­prov­ing team. Af­ter Michigan’s latest win, though, the coach couldn’t help but heap praise.

“The fel­las re­ally came out ballin’ right from the start,” Har­baugh said. In­deed. Jehu Chesson re­turned the open­ing kick­off 96 yards for a touch­down and the 18th-ranked Wolver­ines scored on of­fense and de­fense to build a four­touch­down lead by half­time in a 38- 0 vic­tory over No. 13 North­west­ern on Satur­day.

“Great per­for­mance by them in all three phases,” Wild­cats Coach Pat Fitzger­ald said.

Michigan (5-1, 2- 0 Big Ten) has won five straight since its open­ing loss at Utah un­der Har­baugh, build­ing mo­men­tum go­ing into a show­down at home next week against No. 4 Michigan State.

“We’ll move on even more quickly than usual be­cause it is such a good and wor­thy op­po­nent,” Har­baugh said. “And, we’ll be look­ing for­ward to it.”

The Wild­cats (5-1, 1-1) were giv­ing up a na­tion-low seven points a game and gave that up in the first 13 sec­onds. They al­lowed a sea­son-high 21 points in the first quar­ter alone and strug­gled on of­fense, too.

Michigan has shut out three straight op­po­nents for the first time since 1980.

“Yeah, it’s very mean­ing­ful,” Har­baugh said.

It also seemed to mean a lot to the maize-and-blue clad fans, many of whom stayed for the fi­nal sec­onds and chanted, “De­fense!” and clapped three times in uni­son on North­west­ern’s fi­nal drive.

TheWolver­ines scored TDs on a kick­off re­turn, in­ter­cep­tion and of­fense for the first time since 1991 at Bos­ton Col­lege, ac­cord­ing to STATS.

With a home­com­ing crowd al­ready fired up, Chesson kept them buzzing when he raced across the field and up the side­line un­touched for a score that seemed to stun the Wild­cats.

Jabrill Pep­pers said it was a “big mis­take” to kick away from him and to­ward Chesson to open the game.

“That def­i­nitely sparked ev­ery­thing,” Pep­pers said.

Michigan ran for scores on its first two pos­ses­sions on Drake John­son’s 1-yard plunge and Jake Ru­dock’s 2-yard scram­ble to make it 21- 0. Jour­dan Lewis picked off a pass, snatch­ing the ball away from the in­tended tar­get, late in the sec­ond quar­ter and re­turned it 37 yards for a score.

CAR­LOS OSO­RIO/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Safety Jabrill Pep­pers andMichi­gan ground No. 13 North­west­ern as theWolver­ines (5-1, 2-0) record their third con­sec­u­tive shutout.

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