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Michigan football’s non-conference finale showed they are ready for Big Ten play

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The Wolverines have done and proved everything they can to this point.

NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 Michigan coasted past the Northern Illinois Huskies in a 63-10 victory on Saturday, giving the Wolverines a 3-0 start heading into Big Ten play. The team appears to have pulled a complete 180 from last season.

Trying to come up with a moment that defined this win or sealed NIU’s fate seems to mitigate the overall thumping NIU received. Maybe the stat lines created by the collective effort of the entire team were the star of this win.

Michigan continued with their rush heavy offense. While Blake Corum had 125 yards for 3 TDs, his co-part Hassan Haskins found the endzone twice within the 1-yard line. Cornelius Johnson’s 87-yard TD felt like a troll on Michigan’s fanbase who spent the majority of last week genuinely concerned about the Wolverine’s passing game. Cade McNamara was accurately depicted as efficient where it counted on 8-11 throwing with 191 yards on the game.

The Wolverines finished the game with 606 yards of total offense, running up the score on NIU after their short-range field goal within the ten-yard line. Michigan led nine drives that resulted in 9 TDs and they never punted once the entire game. Freshman QB JJ McCarthy entered at the start of the third quarter and continued where McNamara left off. This resulted in 2 TDs from Donovan Edwards, his firsts wearing the Maize and Blue.

Michigan’s defense shut out the Huskies for two quarters after their field goal in the first. They had a pick thanks to Gemon Green that set up another Michigan touchdown. They played so many players off the roster that almost everyone was getting in on the action. It is not accurate to discredit the defense for allowing NIU’s lone touchdown to come in the fourth as it was led by those that rarely see game action. If anything, the defense was solid no matter who was in. This bodes well moving forward both in terms of the season and in general for the program.

There was not a lot about this game that Michigan fans couldn’t like. It was odd to see the Big House so empty in a game that was so heavy in Michigan’s favor, but everyone knew that there wasn’t a doubt that Michigan was going to win. While blow-outs aren’t always the thrillers that fans remember, this particular one felt refreshing and necessary.

Michigan will return home once again to take on Rutgers. Heading into Big Ten play calls for Michigan to continue with the momentum they are building and seeing how far they can go with it. The same questions will appear for Michigan’s opponents on whether or not they have an answer on how to contain their run game. Rutgers carries the sentiment of a cakewalk in the eyes of Michigan fans, which needs to be reconsidered after last season. Last year Michigan barely squeaked out one of their two wins and just because it was Rutgers in triple OT did not make it a guarantee. Michigan looks more ready than they have recently heading into conference play. A lot of this appears to stem from the fact that the Big Ten East, as it currently stands, is anyone’s for the taking. Michigan is now favored in all of their remaining games, except for Penn St, according to current power index predictions. The fact of the matter now is that Michigan is in contention to play in Indy and they can’t afford to pass it up.