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Michigan’s rushing duo leads Wolverines past Washington, 31-10

It was the Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins show

NCAA Football: Washington at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Plocher Dan Plocher contributes to Maize n’ Brew in several areas including podcasts, game previews/recaps, and various YouTube videos.

The Michigan Wolverines earned a signature win in dominating fashion against the Washington Huskies on Saturday night. The rushing attack led by Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum was too much to handle for Huskies’ defense as the Wolverines combined for 343 rushing yards on 56 carries in the 31-10 blowout. Combine that with a sea of fans decked out in maize and the players on the field in all-blue uniforms under the lights in the Big House, and this game felt big. But, it didn’t come without its hiccups.

The Huskies were feeling the Big House crowd early in this one. A false start and a timeout were forced on the first two drives of the game for the visitors. Not only that, but the Wolverines’ defensive pass rush was having its way, too, causing Washington drives to be very short at the open. The first quarter ended with Washington picking up only 18 yards on 11 plays.

On the other end, Washington’s defense was bending, but not breaking. The first points on the board came from a career-long 52-yard field goal from Jake Moody following a 5-play, 20-yard drive. It was highlighted by a 16-yard run from Hassan Haskins that helped put Michigan in a position to go up 3-0.

The Michigan offense marched the ball down the field at the end of the first quarter. A nice play by Cornelius Johnson for 33 yards on 3rd & 15 propelled the Wolverines into the red zone. Hassan Haskins was stuffed three times within the 2-yard line including a leap to the endzone on 4th down. A 13-play, 59-yard drive resulted in no points.

It was 99-yards to go for Washington, but a mistake by Chris Hinton on a roughing the passer penalty gave the Huskies some breathing room. A 3rd & 15 conversion for the Huskies was their first of the game on a 16-yard pass from Dylan Morris to Taj Davis. The Wolverines stuffed Washington back Cameron Davis on 3rd & 1. They originally decided to go for it, but a Michigan timeout had them thinking otherwise as they elected to punt.

It would have been a three-and-out for Michigan, but a fake-punt run Michael Barrett gave the Wolverines new life. It may have been the turning point of this game. In the next play, Blake Corum saw a hole on the left side and put on the jets for a 68-yard touchdown run putting the maize and blue up 10-0. One team didn’t go for it, the other team did, and it paid off for Jim Harbaugh and company.

Washington’s coach Jimmy Lake had a change in philosophy after seeing the fourth down success for Michigan. On the next drive, Washington went for it in the do-or-die situation twice. The first extended their 12-play, 42-yard drive into Michigan territory. The second attempt on a 4th & 4 was halted after an impressive strip-tackle for loss by Aidan Hutchinson. Michigan’s defense continued to step up in the most important moments in the second half.

With momentum and the football, Michigan had the chance to put an exclamation mark on this first half. But things didn’t go accordingly. A chop block set the Wolverines back 15 yards and on 2nd and 3rd down, Michigan ran the football to the chagrin of fans.

After Aidan Hutchinson continued to do Aidan Hutchinson things on the defensive end, Michigan got the ball back with just under a minute and a half to go. The Wolverines were hesitant to open things up via the air after just ten attempts from Cade McNamara in the first half earning only 30 yards. For the first time, it looked like the Wolverines were feeling the sting of losing Ronnie Bell. And the playcalling made it seem like they didn’t want to finish off the Huskies really early in this game. Still, it was a good first half for Michigan who headed to the locker room with a 10-0 lead at halftime.

Coming out in the second half, it was all business for the Wolverines as the offensive line started to take control of this game. An 8-play, 73-yard drive was all run plays from Michigan as Corum punched in another touchdown. The statement drive gave the Wolverines a three-possession lead at 17-0.

Finally, there was a response from the Husky offense as they had their best drive of the game midway through the third quarter. After 15 plays and 72 yards, Washington got on the board for the first time with a field goal making it 17-3. The Huskies' offense got better as the game went along, but the Michigan defense continued to make the plays when necessary to stop any kind of comeback.

On the ensuing Michigan drive, the Wolverines were playing very conservatively once again. A botched handoff put McNamara and the offense behind the sticks. On 3rd and long, McNamara hit Corum on a short dump-off that would have ended the drive had Washington corner Dominique Hampton not been called for taunting for standing over Corum after making a play. It was an opportunity for Washington to try and turn things around but the mistake by Hampton proved costly. Michigan took advantage and capped off the 14-play drive with a Haskins 6-yard run around the left edge into the endzone to take a 24-3 lead.

The gravity of the taunting penalty was even heavier as Washington stayed hot on the offensive side. An unnecessary roughness penalty against the Wolverines put the Huskies around midfield. Then, Morris found Giles Jackson for 33 yards down the middle of the field. A few players later, Morris hit Terrell Bynum for a 22-yard score to make it a two-possession game once again at 24-10. The Huskies continued to hang around.

To their credit, the Huskies never gave up. Their offense continued to carve up the Michigan defense through the air, picking apart both the zone and man-to-man looks that Mike Macdonald threw at them. It started with Washington’s offensive line doing a better job of protecting Morris. The Washington quarterback would finish the game with 293 yards passing and a touchdown. However, it wasn’t quite good enough as Michigan’s defense stood tall midway through the 4th quarter forcing four straight incompletions. They regained possession of the football up two touchdowns.

The game plan stayed the same throughout the game: pound the rock down their throats. On the next drive, Haskins surpassed 150 yards on the day, setting a career-high for the distinguished senior back. Haskins matched the play of Corum who for the second-consecutive game surpassed 200 total yards. Corum set a career-high in rushing yards himself finishing with 171 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He capped off a late touchdown drive that milked over five minutes of game time off the clock. It’s clear that the sophomore back is a budding superstar in Ann Arbor.

McNamara was nearly perfect in the win over Western Michigan last week. This week was a much different story. In the absence of Ronnie Bell, McNamara was just 7-of-15 and threw for only 44 yards in this game. The Wolverines have made it apparent that they can move the ball on the ground, but they need to start throwing the ball down the field at some point. It wasn’t necessary for much of tonight’s game, but there will be games in the future that they will have to show more balance.

Either way, Michigan got a big win tonight against a solid PAC-12 team which can’t be said about other teams in the Big Ten this week. Their focus will now turn to former Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi and the Northern Illinois Huskies next week. NIU lost to Wyoming in a shootout early on Saturday, 50-43. The kickoff of that game is at 12:00 PM ET in the Big House.