Michigan blanks Illinois
Ann Arbor, MI (Sports Network) - Denard Robinson threw for two scores and ran for two more as the 25th-ranked Michigan Wolverines trounced their conference foes, shutting out the Illinois Fighting Illini at the Big House, 45-0.
On just 11 passing and rushing attempts, Robinson threw for 159 yards and ran for another 128, outgaining the entire Illinois offense by himself. With his rushing touchdown in the second quarter, Robinson became the eighth player in NCAA history to amass 40 passing and rushing touchdowns in a career.
Fitzgerald Toussiant added 62 yards and a score on 18 carries for the Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten), who won their second consecutive game in blow out fashion after defeating Purdue, 44-13, last week. Jeremy Gallon and Devin Funchess each caught a touchdown pass for Michigan.
Illinois (2-5, 0-3) not only lost its fourth straight contest on Saturday, but its starting quarterback as well. Nathan Scheelhaase left with an apparent head/shoulder injury and did not return. Backup Reilly O'Toole couldn't solve the Fighting Illini's offensive problems, finishing 5-of-10 for 25 yards and an interception.
Donovonn Young ran for 49 yards on 16 carries for Illinois, which remains winless in conference play this season.
Michigan quickly opened up the scoring on its first possession. Following four running plays, Robinson hooked up with Gallon for a 71-yard touchdown strike to give the Wolverines a 7-0 lead.
After forcing the Fighting Illini to a three-and-out, Michigan once again used the run to set up the pass. They crossed midfield after three rushes, the first a 12-yard gain by Toussaint, and two plays later Robinson connected with Roy Roundtree for a 33-yard completion to the Illinois' 9.
The drive stalled for the Wolverines, however, and they settled for a Brendan Gibbons 18-yard field goal.
Illinois kicker Taylor Zalewski missed a 50-yard attempt with 8:37 to play in the second quarter.
On 3rd-and-5, Scheelhaase scampered for 23 yards to the Michigan 38, but was injured on the play and Illinois couldn't pick up another first down. Forced to try a long field goal, Zalewski's attempt sailed wide right.
With 8:37 remaining in the second quarter, the Wolverines ran all nine plays on their ensuing possession, highlighted by a 33-yard sprint by Robinson to the Fighting Illini' 10. Robinson ran it in from six yards out three plays later to cement his place in the record books and to give Michigan a 17-0 lead.
"Denard is a great football player," said Illinois coach Tim Beckham. "He made people miss tonight -- he made people miss tackles. He did some very good things and is a very, very good football player, and I guess we didn't defend well enough because he had a spectacular football game."
Illinois would cross midfield just one more time for the rest of the game.
With O'Toole in the game at quarterback, he completed a pass to Josh Ferguson for a 9-yard gain to reach the 50-yard line. Ferguson took the next two carries and picked up nine yards, but O'Toole and Young were stuffed for no gain on the next two plays and Illinois turned it over on downs.
On Michigan's first possession of the second half, Robinson scored again with his feet, running for a 49-yard touchdown on an option play.
The game came undone for Illinois following Michigan's touchdown. On the Fighting Illini's first play from scrimmage of the second half, O'Toole was intercepted by Kenney Demens deep in Illinois territory.
"He had seen the formation, he jumped the route," said Michigan coach Brady Hoke regarding Demens' interception. "He knew what the play was going to be. It tells you about the kids and the teachers they have as coaches, who are doing a great job with them."
The Wolverines took over on the Illinois 27 and Robinson connected with Toussaint for a 15-yard completion before hitting Funchess in the end zone for an 8-yard score to make it 31-0.
Illinois got pinned back deep in its own territory after forcing Michigan to punt and O'Toole turned it over again, this time fumbling following a Jake Ryan sack. Michigan recovered and handed the ball off to Toussaint twice, the second time punching it in for a 2-yard score.
Thomas Rawls broke off a 63-yard touchdown rush with just over six minutes to play to account for the final margin.
After totaling 287 yards of offense on Saturday, Robinson now has over 10,000 total yards for his career ... Wolverine linebacker Jake Ryan tied a career high with 11 tackles and registered 1 1/2 sacks on Saturday ... Michigan improved to 69-23-2 in the all-time series against Illinois, who has lost 42 of the previous 50 meetings ... Illinois was outgained on Saturday 134-527 and managed just seven first downs.
10/13 19:54:53 ET