Wolverines fire on all cylinders in rout of Wildcats
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.
Safety Jabrill Peppers andMichigan ground No. 13 Northwestern as theWolverines (5-1, 2-0) record their third consecutive shutout.