The Michigan Wolverines struggled early with Eastern Michigan on Saturday. But gradually, over the course of 60 minutes of play, Michigan's meat-grinder rushing offense wore down the Eagles with several big rushing plays and an improved second half defensive effort to defeat the Eagles (Hurons) 45-17 with over 107, 903 fans in attendance.
Michigan's 28 point margin of victory against EMU on Saturday was the most decisive for a Wolverine football team since a 2007 victory over Notre Dame 38-0. It was also the offensive highest point total achieved to date by Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, and the second highest point total for a Michigan offense since the 2007 victory over Purdue 48-21.
Eastern Michigan kept the game respectable in the first half, closing the gap to 17-24, aided by the running of both quarterback Andy Schmitt and a fleet-footed tailback named Dwayne Priest, who had 91 yards rushing and 1 TD.
But Eastern simply had no answer for the Wolverines' own rushing onslaught. Eight different Michigan players carried the football on Saturday and half of them found the end zone at least once. By game end, Michigan had tallied 380 yards on the ground. The Wolverines were sparked by spectacularly quick runs from senior tailback Carlos Brown who had 187 yards in just 13 carries and two touchdowns, including a 90 yard TD jaunt in the second quarter.
Defensively, Michigan struggled to stop Eastern Michigan's ball control offense in the first half. The Eagles matched Michigan in first downs achieved (17). Most astonishing was that the gamestrategy of EMU head coach Ron English had managed to keep Michigan's explosive offense on the bench for 40 minutes of the game. Michigan worked to make the most of their few opportunities, scoring 45 points in the remaining 20 minutes of ball possession in the game. Michigan's defense gave up 3.7 yards per carry, but kept EMU's passing game under wraps most of the day, surrending 15 catches for only 106 yards. With Schmitt and Priest, Eastern Michigan accumulated 285 yards in total offense against the Wolverines - an average outing for the Eagles thus far this year. Wolverine defensive coordinator Greg Robinson emphasized some key read adjustments at halftime. His players responded by shutting out EMU on the scoreboard in the second half.
The hero of Michigan's last two games, quarterback Tate Forcier, was slightly off Saturday, hitting on only 54% of this throws for a meager 68 yards. Michigan's second quarterback, Denard Robinson was 0 for 4, and threw two interceptions. Robinson eventually redeemed himself via two electrifying touchdown runs of 13 yards and 36 yards in the second half.
By vanquishing EMU on Saturday, Rich Rodriguez and Michigan have already tied last year's win total of three. Also, at 3-0 Michigan is one of only 5 remaining teams in the Big Ten that is undefeated. Penn State, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa are all 3-0.
Some other items of interest:
- After 3 games Michigan leads the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 38 points per game compared with 18.7 points per game this time last year
- After 3 games Michigan leads the Big Ten in rushing with 812, and is basically tied for first place in the conference with Purdue in total yards per game (439 yards per game).
- After 3 games, Michigan has yet to lose a fumble in 2009. By game 3 of 2008, Michigan had already lost 6 fumbles and had 3 interceptions.
- After 3 games, Michigan's total defense is currently ranked 9th in the Big Ten giving up 359 yards per game on average. In scoring defense, Michigan is currently ranked 5th giving up only 19.3 points per game.
- Michigan moves up from 25th in the AP poll to 23rd this week following the win over EMU.