The No. 4 Michigan Wolverines absolutely crushed the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in New Jersey, wining 78-0 and moving to 3-0 in Big Ten play. The dominant performance marked Michigan’s largest margin of victory in over 75 years.
Michigan’s first couple possessions were sloppy at best. With the rain coming down, the offense struggled to a pair of punts and a De’Veon Smith fumble to lead off the game. However, Rutgers was finding success just as difficult to come by, as the Michigan defense forced a trio of three-and-outs.
The Wolverine offense was finally jump-started by, guess who, Jabrill Peppers. Coming from a Wildcat formation, Peppers burst down the sideline for a 63-yard gain. On the very next play, Ty Issac took a pitch from four yards out into the end zone for the game’s first score. A Kenny Allen extra point made it 7-0 Michigan with 7:44 to go in the first.
On the next Rutgers punt, Peppers made an electric 47-yard return for a touchdown that was negated by a block in the back. Michigan ended up scoring anyway, as Wilton Speight threw a perfectly placed ball in the end zone that fell into the outstretched arms of Jehu Chesson. The 30-yard connection helped Michigan go up 14-0 with 4:27 left in the first.
The first quarter ended with a Rutgers’ fumble recovered by Bryan Mone. Quarterback Zach Allen had enough for the Scarlet Knights’ first first down of the game, but instead the turnover gave Michigan the ball at the 7-yard line. Rutgers ended the quarter with -1 total yards, compared to Michigan’s 138.
Though his punt return did not count, Peppers found his way onto the score sheet, coming out of the Wildcat again. The New Jersey product’s juke and scamper five seconds into the second quarter gave Michigan a 21-0 advantage.
The next Michigan possession saw Chris Evans take a handoff and streak 44 yards down the field. Multiple spins and broken tackles left Evans just inches short of the goal line, and Khalid Hill punched it in for his sixth touchdown of the year. A fake on the extra point by holder Garrett Moores put Michigan ahead 29-0 with 11:57 left in the second.
Though Speight struggled with some accuracy early on, he threw a great deep ball to Amara Darboh for 48 yards down to the Rutgers 8-yard line the next time Michigan at the ball. On fourth down Hill found the end zone again, and with 7:18 left, Michigan was up 36-0.
For the fourth-straight possession, Michigan quickly drove down the field to score. Again it was Peppers playing out of the Wildcat, scoring from four yards out. The scoreboard showed 43-0 Michigan with 2:10 remaining in the second quarter.
The stats were not pretty at halftime. Michigan had 309 total yards; Rutgers had six on the air and zero on the ground. The Scarlet Knights completed a total of one pass and went 0-for-10 on third downs. It was an absolute domination through 30 minutes.
John O’Korn came out under center to start the second half. He hit Hill on a short pass for an 11-yard touchdown -- Hill’s third of the day -- to give Michigan a 50-0 lead five minutes into the third quarter.
Shane Morris was the third quarterback to take the field in the game (excluding Peppers, of course). A 57-yard run by Evans put him over 150 yards on the day, and Karan Higdon’s rush from 15 yards out made it 57-0 Wolverines with 8:17 to go in the third.
Meanwhile, the Michigan defensive line continued to be in complete control, racking up the sacks, quarterback hurries, and tackles for loss. Rutgers was unable to sustain any sort of drive and entered the fourth quarter still without any first downs. They sat at 16 total yards through 45 minutes.
Bobby Henderson got his first carry of the season and took it for a touchdown, diving in from 13 yards out. With 12:45 left in the game, the score stood 64-0 Michigan. Three minutes later, Higdon took a handoff on a third down and sprinted 44 yards for a touchdown virtually untouched, making the score 71-0.
51 minutes into the game, Rutgers got their first first down of the game. Three plays later, they punted.
Isaac added another touchdown on a 34-yard run with 3:46 remaining in the game. Michigan went ahead an astounding 78-0.
When it was all said and done, six different Wolverines found the end zone. Michigan outgained Rutgers 600 yards to 39, and the Scarlet Knights earned just two first downs and finished 0-for-17 on third down conversion attempts.