By Chance McBride / @CertifiedChance
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Homecoming at any level always has the extra bells and whistles and Saturday was no different. Wolverine country simply has a different feel right now and it is something that fans haven’t felt in a long time. From the alumni band, to alumni players, everyone was out for the most anticipated game in recent memory for both of these ranked squads.
Michigan lost the toss, took the ball, and saw Jehu Chesson take the opening kickoff back almost untouched for the entire 96 yards to paydirt. When asked about kicking away from Peppers to Chesson, Peppers knew the play was coming.
“Big mistake,” Peppers said. “Jehu is a top speed guy on the team and I could tell the ball was coming to him based on how he teed it up, so I told him I got your block follow me.”
Northwestern would take the field just outside of their own 20 yard line. One stuffed run and two incomplete passes later, Michigan would start their next drive just outside of the 50 yard line. De’Veon Smith broke it loose to get the Wolverines in scoring range. Jake Butt would slip open on a bootleg to get them inside the 5 yard line, and Drake Johnson would cap off the drive for the teams second touchdown of the afternoon. With ten minutes left in the 1st quarter, Michigan lead 14-0.
The Cats finally made some progress on their second possession of the game, driving down the field only to stall out on a 4th and 1 that eventually lead to their first missed field goal of the game. Michigan would get the ball back unscathed.
Joe Kerridge rumbled for a 32 yard run to move the Wolverines back into scoring territory where Chesson got the team inside the 5 yard line. Then, Rudock read the read option correctly and got his first points of the day on a goal line stretch. With 2 minutes left in the 1st quarter, Michigan led 21-0.
After scoring more points in the 1st quarter than the Cats had allowed all season, Michigan started off the second quarter with the ball once more. Faced with a 3rd and 5, the Wolverines continued to slice through the Cats defense, this time by tight end AJ Williams. Quickly, Big Blue was faced with another third down after two minimal gains and the Wolverines failed to convert for the first time all game.
Faced with another 3rd and long, Northwestern suffered a false start penalty to move them back to the 15 yard line and a tough 3rd and 15. Wideout Austin Carr would get the best of Peppers on that one and the Cats converted to keep the drive alive. Another penalty would push them back for a 2nd and 17 and then a 3rd and 15 that they were not so lucky in converting. Chalk up a coverage sack for the defense and the Cats would punt once again.
Jourdan Lewis would not let the fans down in this game either as the first time the ball went up for grabs in his direction, it turned into another touchdown for the Wolverines. Extending their lead to 28-0 with just over three minutes left in the first half. Peppers had some more than kind words about Lewis’ play so far.
“Jourdan is the best corner in the country,” Peppers said. “That makes everyone’s job a lot easier when you have someone who can shut down half the field. It’s expected from him. Jourdan inspires me to play better.”
At halftime, the Wolverines had two rushing touchdowns, a defensive touchdown, and score off of specials teams. The only thing more impressive than that was the continuation of their now 2 1/2 game shutout. The score at the half, 28-0. After about 30 plays a piece, Michigan had outgained Northwestern 213-95.
The Wolverines would get their first field goal for the game around the 10 minute mark in the 3rd quarter. The 47 yarder was a career long for kicker and punter Kenny Allen. That would extend the Wolverines’ extend their lead to 31-0.
James Ross would be ejected shortly after for targeting and will miss the first half of the Michigan State game next week.
Throughout the 3rd quarter, Michigan and the offense put it into cruise control as they ate up as much clock as possible. Extending the time of possession battle in their favor by over seven minutes (24:11 to 17:46). Northwestern would fail to cross midfield once more and were forced to punt.
There wasn’t a weak side of the ball and Michigan could seemingly do no wrong. Northwestern only crossed midfield once the entire game, Michigan did not turn the ball over, and they scored every possible way you can in a football game.