College Football and College Basketball Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The hush washed over Michigan Stadium straight away, greater than 100,000 individuals falling silent in response to the horror alongside the sideline. Star working again Blake Corum — he of 1,457 dashing yards and 18 touchdowns in a bona fide Heisman Trophy marketing campaign — lay immobile clutching his left knee following a low sort out from Illinois defensive again Xavier Scott.
As members of Michigan’s medical workers rushed throughout the sector, the gang contemplated the implications of what Corum’s damage meant for at present, subsequent Saturday and past. Would their dominant 10-0 begin to the season dissolve on the cusp of a rematch with No. 2 Ohio State? Would their path towards a second consecutive look within the College Football Playoff be rerouted to one thing much less fascinating?
But 20 minutes later, after a tepid response to the marching band’s halftime efficiency, the followers regained their collective voice. Corum emerged from the locker room unassisted, in uniform and able to partake in second-half warmups. He returned to the sector on Michigan’s second offensive snap earlier than exiting the sport for good a couple of minutes later.
That may have been the tip for head coach Jim Harbaugh’s crew, a gaggle uncovered as a one-trick pony compelled to play with out its thoroughbred. And but a passing assault maligned as a lot for its fleeting presence as its normal ineffectiveness cobbled collectively sufficient within the remaining minutes: positive factors of three yards, eight yards, 5 yards and a vital go interference penalty that handed the Wolverines 15 extra.
They marched from their very own 48-yard line to the Illinois 17, and kicker Jake Moody did the remainder. His 35-yard area purpose with 9 seconds remaining accomplished a fourth-quarter comeback for a 19-17 win. The dream of an undefeated season continues.
Here are some takeaways from Ann Arbor:
Sticky state of affairs at working again
With the potential for an undefeated showdown towards Ohio State on the horizon, the Wolverines’ two main targets on Saturday had been to beat Illinois and keep away from main accidents. The rating, the aesthetics and the exact method of victory had been much less necessary than merely getting the job completed.
Michigan entered the sport shorthanded at working again with Corum’s main sidekick, former five-star prospect Donovan Edwards, unavailable after dropping out of final week’s win over Nebraska. The solely different tailback with respectable expertise this season is true freshman CJ Stokes, an rare contributor with good effectivity.
Corum ignited the gang with a 37-yard burst on the primary play from scrimmage, jump-cutting on the line to discover a gap after which juking defensive again Kendall Smith within the open area. He bookended the drive with three consecutive goal-line carries to plunge into the tip zone for an early lead. By halftime, Corum was averaging higher than 5 yards per keep it up 17 makes an attempt and gained 41 yards on a display screen go from quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
Though Corum returned for just a few snaps firstly of the third quarter, a lot of the second-half carries had been break up between Stokes and reserve tailback Isaiah Gash. An Illinois protection ranked sixth nationally at stopping the run sliced Michigan’s common acquire from 6.7 yards per play within the first half to three.8 within the second because the Wolverines failed to achieve the tip zone within the second half.
No Corum, no explosiveness.
Proving his price
To some extent, the lavish reward heaped on Corum has obscured the exploits of Illinois working again Chase Brown, who arrived in Ann Arbor because the nation’s main rusher with 1,442 yards — practically three dozen greater than anybody else in FBS. Last week’s loss to Purdue was the one time he’s been held under 100 yards this season.
His standing for Saturday was difficult by a leg damage suffered within the remaining minutes towards the Boilermakers, and a remaining resolution on his participation didn’t come till just a few hours earlier than kickoff. He suited up, pounded the ball between the tackles and racked up 140 yards and two touchdowns on 29 makes an attempt to frustrate the most effective defenses within the nation.
Head coach Bret Bielema’s steadfast dedication to the working sport proved instrumental in chipping away on the Wolverines. The Illini gained three dashing yards within the first quarter, 60 within the second and 75 within the third as Brown’s positive factors expanded from 3- and 4-yard dives to bigger chunks that constantly moved the chains. He exploded by means of the proper aspect and into open area for a 37-yard rating that gave Illinois a 17-10 lead late within the third quarter.
The debate over the Big Ten’s greatest working again continues — and Minnesota’s star Mohamed Ibrahim would in all probability like a phrase — however Brown acquitted himself nicely.
Erratic downfield passing assault
For most Michigan followers, the expectation of what this 12 months’s offense would possibly appear like shifted the second Harbaugh declared McCarthy the starter after a protracted competitors with Cade McNamara, the participant who guided the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title in 17 years final season. McCarthy had the larger arm, higher mobility and the kind of game-changing charisma that McNamara, who was extra of a sport supervisor, lacked.
But the dominance of Michigan’s offensive line, coupled with Corum’s excellence and the smash-mouth predisposition of its head coach, meant the Wolverines prolonged their run-heavy method in a sequence of lopsided victories. They entered the weekend ranked fourth nationally in dashing with 2,514 yards and 188 extra working makes an attempt than passes. An argument could possibly be made that an over-reliance on the run — albeit an efficient one — stunted the expansion of a passing offense averaging simply 208.9 yards per sport.
Believers in that speculation may level towards a sequence of off-target throws on Saturday as McCarthy threw excessive, broad and behind receivers on crossing routes over the center. He accomplished simply 18 of his 34 makes an attempt for 208 yards towards Illinois with an extended of 27 on downfield makes an attempt. Improper trajectories and an absence of contact unsettled the Michigan crowd, particularly when he overthrew tight finish Colston Loveland for what may have been the game-winning rating with slightly greater than three minutes remaining. Two display screen passes totaling 61 yards skewed the numbers even additional.
And when McCarthy did throw correct passes — just like the one he dropped in a bucket after the Illinois protection appeared to leap offside — wideout Andrel Anthony allowed it to slide proper by means of his arms for what would have been a landing within the third quarter. Gash additionally dropped a possible landing on a brief go out of the backfield within the fourth.
The passing sport is a respectable concern. There is figure to do earlier than touring to Ohio Stadium subsequent week.
Michael Cohen covers faculty soccer and basketball for FOX Sports with an emphasis on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.
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