FINAL: Michigan 45, UI 0
ANN ARBOR — Denard Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores, leading No. 25 Michigan in a 45-0 win over Illinois on Saturday.
The Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) got a scare when Robinson left the game with an undisclosed injury late in the first quarter. He missed just one-plus possessions, though, and returned to score on a 6-yard run to put Michigan up 17-0 late in the first half.
Robinson, who wouldn’t elaborate on the injury after the game, ran for a 49-yard score — giving him 10,000-plus career yards of offense — on the Wolverines’ first drive of the second half and tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Devin Funchess on their next possession to make it 31-0.
The Illini (2-5, 0-3) lost their starting quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase, because of an undisclosed injury in the second quarter.
Robinson was 7 of 11 for 159 yards with two TD passes, including one on his first drive to Jeremy Gallon, who turned a short toss into a 71-yard score. He ran 11 times for 128 yards, his 18th career 100-yard game on the ground, and scored on a juke-filled, 49-yard run along with a 6-yard run on a play designed to be a pass.
Scheelhaase completed two passes for 4 yards and ran six times for 34 yards, including a 23-yard gain in which he was injured when he landed face first in the turf when Jibreel Black hit him from behind. He was replaced by Reilly O’Toole, whose two turnovers in the third quarter helped Michigan pull away.
In the first half, Illinois had chances to keep it close.
Illini coach Tim Beckman chose to attempt a 50-yard field goal — instead of going for a fourth-and-4 from the Michigan 32 down by 10 points — and Taylor Zalewski missed the kick, ending the drive in which Scheelhaase was hurt. The Illini turned the ball over on downs on their next possession when running back Donovonn Young was dropped for a loss by Kenny Demens on a fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 41.
The Wolverines turned the lopsided game into a rout with 21 points in the third, turning two turnovers into TDs and forcing the Illini to lose 9 yards in the quarter.
On Illinois’ first snap of the second half, O’Toole threw an interception to Demens and the linebacker returned it 13 yards to the Illini 27 to set up Robinson’s perfectly lofted pass to Funchess. Toole avoided getting sacked by Jake Ryan later in the third quarter, but held onto the ball long enough for the outside linebacker to get back to him to force a fumble at the Illinois 6.
Fitzgerald Toussaint, who had 62 yards rushing on 18 carries, scored on a 2-yard run two plays later to put the Wolverines ahead 38-0.
Michigan put backup Russell Bellomy, who replaced Robinson when he was hurt, back in and he fumbled on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Bellomy handed off to Thomas Rawls up the middle and he did the rest, breaking two tackles on a 63-yard run to give Michigan a 45-0 lead later in the fourth.
Michigan got its first shutout since beating Minnesota 58-0 on Oct. 1 last season.
Just before kickoff, college football’s winningest school unretired the jersey worn by former President Gerald Ford. The Wolverines allowed linebacker Desmond Morgan to wear No. 48 with a “Michigan Football Legends,” patch and he made a tackle on Illinois’ first play.
Michigan gave its fans a lot of reasons to cheer on a chilly, rainy day, but they were loudest when it was announced that rival Michigan State lost earlier in the day at home to Iowa. The Wolverines will host the Spartans on Saturday, hoping to snap a four-game losing streak in the series.
HQ Live Report — Michigan 38, Illinois 0 — End of the third
Third-quarter star: Devin Funchess. For the time being, he's under-the-radar. But the freshman tight end from Farmington Hills, Mich., will be drawing an NFL paycheck some day. His catch and tippy-toe in the endzone made it 31-0 for Michigan and surely earned a spot on Sportscenter.
Third-quarter goat: Next year's schedule. There's not much nice about it. Illinois gets the two so-called winnable games on the road (Indiana, Purdue) and tough ones at home (Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin). It could get worse before it gets better.
What we're thinking: There were 57 media members at Michigan basketball's media day this week, a notable number only because it was far more than Michigan expected. So Illinois isn't the only program hoping basketball season can hurry up and get here — if for different reasons.
By the numbers
99 — Jersey number of Michael Buchanan, who was warned by an official after shoving a Michigan lineman after the play
1 — Turnover today, a fumble by Reilly O'Toole, who was under heavy pressure, again, when he was hit inside the Illini 10
25 — Passing yards by Illinois today
1 — Text message from a longtime season ticket-holder: "Please make it stop."
1 — Illinois basketball staff that was pleased with the effort of the players in the team's season-opening practice on Friday
Back at the final horn.
HQ Live Report — Michigan 17, Illinois 0 — Halftime
Second-quarter star: None. Illinois is out of its league again. The Michigan undergrad that just ran onto the field — and soon was apprehended by security — had a better chance of reaching the endzone than this offense.
Second-quarter goat: Critics of Nathan Scheelhaase. Criticisms aimed at the third-year starter are misguided. He's not getting any help, running for his survival on each snap and has remained positive through it all. Perhaps the play that best symbolized all of this was a brilliant effort on a third-and-long. Scheelhaase came under pressure but hit Darius Millines right between the numbers. The pass was dropped. The QB's not the savior, but he's not the problem, either.
What we're thinking: The mysterious usage of Jonathan Brown continues. Arguably the Illini's best defensive player — arguably — Brown is said to be injured. He didn't start last week at Wisconsin or today at Michigan. Yet he plays the majority of the game. Odd.
By the numbers
2 — Drops by Michigan receivers on Bellomy's first complete series at quarterback
1 — Cheerleader leveled by Denard Robinson on a run out-of-bounds; Doubt she minded
68 — Yards on Michigan's scoring drive that ended with a Robinson touchdown sprint
2 — Starting quarterbacks injured in the second quarter
1 — Did not return to the game, and it appears Illinois will move forward with Reilly O'Toole in place of Scheelhaase
3 — Beach balls bouncing across the drenched crowd like a body-surfer
239 — Total yards for Michigan's offense
121 — Total yards for Illinois' offense
0 — Turnovers through 30 minutes
Back in a few.
HQ Live Report — Michigan 10, Illinois 0 — End of first quarter
First-quarter star: Chris Beatty. Perhaps in response to the wet and slippery weather, the co-offensive coordinator featured the running game on the Illini's first series. Six rushes, two passing plays. That should please Donovonn Young, who publicly addressed the playcalling last week. To at least be competitive today, the Illini will need to keep Denard Robinson and his merry band of track stars off the field.
First-quarter goat: Illinois defense. First, Michigan brought defenders to the line with four consecutive running plays. Next, Robinson hit Jeremy Gallon for a 71-yard catch-and-run that put the Wolverines on the board and showed why this was a 25-point spread at kickoff.
What we're thinking: The animosity between Michigan and Michigan State goes far beyond any rivalry Illinois football deals with. When the State score was announced — Iowa 19, MSU 16 (OT) — the crowd erupted as though Robinson had just raced through the Illini secondary.
By the numbers
16 — Jersey number of the injured Denard Robinson, who went to the sideline holding his hand with 2:36 left in the quarter
8 — Jersey number of backup QB Russell Bellomy , who is throwing on the sideline and looks to return under center when Michigan is on offense; Bellomy was the No. 3 quarterback heading into training camp
246 — Receiving yards from Roy Roundtree in Michigan's 67-65 win against Illinois in 2010
33 — Yard highlight-reel catch by Roundtree in the first quarter
90,000 — something Michigan fans currently drenched in a full-on downpour here at Michigan Stadium; Most open seats are on the north side
1 — Writer laughing at his own joke, Marcus Jackson, who responded to Drew Dileo's introduction by saying, "What's the dealy-o?"
1 — Optimistic Loren Tate, who referred to the defense's goal-line stand as "a moral victory"
Back in a few.
Illinois at No. 25 Michigan — Kickoff
Former President and Michigan alum Gerald Ford just had his No. 48 jersey un-retired. Members of President Ford’s family were on the field to participate in the ceremony. How cool is it that a former president played here?
What un-retirement means is that a special UM football player will get the honor of wearing No. 48 in the future. No pressure comes with that. Today, Desmond Morgan will wear No. 48 for the remainder of his career.
It’s 48 degrees here (how fitting) with a windchill of 45 here at kickoff with some water falling out of the sky. The wind is blowing 7 mph out of the southeast.
The Illinois captains today are Ashante Williams, Jon Davis (yes, he’s still on the team), Graham Pocic and Justin Green.
Michigan won the toss and deferred to the second half. Illinois will receive going south.
John Beilein’s Top-5 Michigan basketball team was introduced on the field a few minutes ago. Those dudes are going to be really good.
Paul Klee, who’s a lot smarter than me, will take over from here. Enjoy.
Illinois at No. 25 Michigan — 15 minutes before kickoff
Well, I was wrong, Iowa scored to tie it at 13 in the final minute and we’re headed to overtime over in East Lansing. The Spartans will be here next week. They’re expecting 110,000-plus for that one.
The alumni band performed in the pregame ceremony. Lots of ponchos out there. Question: Do the alumni band members bring their own instruments, or are they borrowing from the students? It would be kinda weird to be tootin’ someone else’s horn, no?
Michigan’s Denard Robinson leads the Big Ten in rushing, but the quarterback hasn’t had much success on the ground against the Illini. Read about that, and some other keys to today’s contest here .
I caught up with Tim Beckman yesterday at the Big House. Here’s what he had to say.
Got some predictions for you. Warning: They’re not kind to the Illini.
— Colleen Kane from the Chicago Tribune, who nailed last week’s score, says Michigan 38-14.
— Michael Rothstein, who covers Michigan for ESPN’s Wolverine Nation, picked Michigan 41-10, or “By a lot,” as he said. Rothstein has great hair. I’m jealous. He’s got a lot of energy, too. To borrow a line from Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas, who just visited with us, Rothstein makes caffeine nervous.
— John Supinie from GateHouse News Services picked Michigan 38-10. He does not have great hair.
— Herb Gould from the Chicago Sun-Times picked Michigan 41-14. He has unbelievable hair.
— Fletcher Page from Scout.com picked Michigan 35-13. He likes odd numbers, he said.
— Klee picked the Wolverines 45-10.
— I went with Michigan 38-10.
Illinois at No. 25 Michigan — 30 minutes before kickoff
Michigan coach Brady Hoke wore a #ChuckStrong shirt into the stadium today in support of Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano who is in an Indy hospital battling Lukemia.
Illinois is wearing pink Nike wristbands today in support of breast cancer awareness.
This really is an impressive building. As Loren Tate said yesterday when we pulled up “They just dug a hole in the ground and said ‘Let’s play football.’ That’s how you should do it.” He’s so wise.
Loren is beaming from that Cardinals comeback last night. I’m surprised he stayed awake. Those dudes just will not go away. Lots of Michigan fans wearing orange and blue today, but they’re not confused about which team they’re supporting today. They’re geared up for tonight’s ALCS Game 1 between the Tigers and the Yankees.
I’ll be back soon with some predictions and final thoughts before the kickoff. I’m going to assume Michigan State and Iowa won’t dent the scoreboard between now and then.
Illinois at No. 25 Michigan — 45 minutes before kickoff
Just caught up with former Illinois quarterback Kurt Kittner, who wil call today’s game with Brian Barnhart on the radio.
Kittner engineered one of the great comebacks in Illinois history in this building 13 years ago, leading the Illini back from a 20-point deficit. Kittner outplayed a guy named Tom Brady that day. Illinois has had some success at the Big House of late. Read about it here .
I mentioned Toldeo was in town earlier. Illinois’ regular chaplain couldn’t make the trip, so Toledo’s came over and addressed the team today as a favor to his old friend Tim Beckman.
It’s raining here, yet people have been filing to their seats for the last hour. Why the heck would you come early to sit in the rain? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Terry Hawthorne is on the field warming up with the Illini. Beckman sais yesterday the cornerback probably wouldn’t see much action today after that nasty hit last week at Wisconsin.
Check out Jim Rossow’s Big Ten Report  while you get ready for the game.
Illinois at No. 25 Michigan — 60 minutes until kickoff
Good afternoon, folks. Marcus Jackson and Paul Klee joining you from beautiful Michigan Stadium on a bit of a rainy day.
It’s homecoming here, the second straight week Illinois has bee the opponent for homecoming contest. Last week’s attempt at playing spoiler didn’t go so well.
Just realized that Tim Beckman’s former squad, Toledo, is playing a few minutes up the road at Eastern Michigan. I bet Beckman wishes he was coaching against the Eagles today. EMU is 0-5, including a 31-14 loss to FCS Illinois State.
Instead, Beckman gets a Top-25 Michigan team at the Big House.
The Michigan cheerleaders have some pink in their uniforms today. Denard Robinson is wearing pink Beats by Dre headphones. Loren is wearing a pink bow in his hair.
Here’s our Q&A with Jonathan Brown , to get you warmed up for the game.
We’ll be back with more soon.