In the inaugural George Jewett Trophy game, the No. 6 Michigan Wolverines returned from the bye with a 33-7 victory over Northwestern. The Wolverines improved to 7-0 while remaining undefeated in Big Ten play.
The first half, while forgettable, reflected the nature of coming off a bye. The Maize and Blue didn’t score until the second quarter, where they were finally able to break into the end zone with a 1-yard run from Blake Corum. Michigan ended the first half with 10 points thanks to a 20-yard field goal from Jake Moody. Northwestern was able to rattle off a 75-yard rushing touchdown run courtesy of Evan Hull in the second quarter, so the Wolverines went into half up 10-7.
After halftime, there was a more noticeable shift in the game as Michigan found more of a rhythm, scoring 17 points in the third quarter alone. The passing game was less than ideal, as no throw exceeded 18 yards and there were no passing touchdowns. But the backfield had themselves a day and carried the offensive charge. Both Corum and Hassan Haskins rushed for two scores with 119 and 110 rushing yards, respectively.
In the third quarter, cornerback DJ Turner got called for a questionable pass interference call, but if anything, it galvanized the defense. Northwestern was within field goal range after the call, but missed the 39-yard field goal. When the defense returned to the field a couple of series later, it forced Northwestern to another three and out. While Northwestern was executing a punt, Cornelius Johnson leapt in front of the ball and blocked it. The defense went on to shut out Northwestern the remainder of the game.
Johnson’s blocked punt set up the rest of Michigan’s 23 points and reignited the spark within the Michigan defense, earning this week’s turning point of the game. It helped set up another impressive turnover highlight from the contest. This would be Turner’s interception in the fourth quarter, as an excellent blocked pass and display of athleticism forced another turnover. He went for another 23 yards after the catch to line Michigan perfectly for another shot at the end zone.
That interception was a close second turning point of the game, but the noticeable momentum shift fell to the special teams when they forced the blocked punt. They pulled their weight to serve as an almost wake up call for the offense and defense. It was another instance of not backing down when the game wasn’t going their way and having each other’s back.
There are questions surrounding Michigan’s overall first-half performance, and if the passing game has what it takes to take on the top teams of the Big Ten East. For now, Michigan fans can revel in a brand new trophy, blow out win and an undefeated season. Now, on to undefeated Michigan State.