ANN ARBOR—Denard Robinson overcame his mysterious first-quarter injury and then brushed aside the Illini almost as easily.Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores, leading No. 25 Michigan in a 45-0 win over the Fighting Illini on Saturday.The Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) got a scare when Robinson left the game with an undisclosed injury late in the first quarter. He missed just one-plus possessions, though, and returned to score on a 6-yard run — his second of four touchdowns — to put Michigan up 17-0 late in the first half.
“It was just a boo-boo,” said Robinson, declining to say what sent him out of the game briefly. “It’s all good. It didn’t bother me at all.”
Robinson threw two TD passes, ran for two scores and accounted for 287 yards, giving him 10,000-plus career yards on offense.He was 7 of 11 for 159 yards and connected with Jeremy Gallon, who turned a short toss into a 71-yard score, and perfectly lofted an 8-yard pass to Devin Funchess in the end zone.Robinson ran 11 times for 128 yards — his 18th career 100-yard game on the ground — and the highlight was a juke-filled, 49-yard run that put Michigan ahead 24-0 early in the second half.
“He made people miss tackles,” Fighting Illini coach Tim Beckman said. “He’s a very, very good football player. He had a sensational game.”
The Wolverines were also pretty good on defense. They had their first shutout since beating Minnesota 58-0 a little more than a year ago and held Illinois to 134 yards of offense with just 13 yards after halftime.
“It’s embarrassing,” Illinois center Graham Pocic said. “We can’t put it all together.”
Michigan also made plays on special teams with freshman Dennis Norfleet returning a punt 42 yards, not giving up a yard on four punts, allowed no more than 21 yards on a kickoff return and connected on its only field goal.
“It’s probably as complete as we played,” Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said. “But it’s not nearly good enough.”
Michigan gave its fans a lot of reasons to cheer on a chilly, rainy day, but the fans cloaked in maize and blue ponchos were loudest when it was announced that rival Michigan State lost earlier in the day at home to Iowa. The Wolverines will host the Spartans (4-3, 1-2) on Saturday, hoping to snap a four-game losing streak in the series, but insisted they won’t start thinking about that matchup until Sunday.The Fighting Illini (2-5, 0-3) had their starting quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase, knocked out of the game because of concussion in the second quarter.Scheelhaase completed two passes for 4 yards and ran six times for 34 yards, including a 23-yard gain in which he was injured when he landed face first in the turf when Jibreel Black hit him from behind.
“I grabbed Nate when he came off the field and he said he was all right and wanted to go back in the game,” Beckman said. “But he did some things that proved he wasn’t all right. Our doctors made the right decision.”
Scheelhaase was replaced by Reilly O’Toole, whose two turnovers in the third quarter helped Michigan pull away. O’Toole was 5 of 10 for 25 yards and lost 8 yards on five carries.In the first half, Illinois had chances to keep it close.Beckman chose to attempt a 50-yard field goal – instead of going for a fourth-and-4 from the Michigan 32 down by 10 points – and Taylor Zalewski missed the kick, ending the drive in which Scheelhaase was hurt. The Illini turned the ball over on downs on their next possession when running back Donovonn Young was dropped for a loss by Kenny Demens on a fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 41.The Wolverines turned the lopsided game into a rout with 21 points in the third, turning two turnovers into TDs and forcing the Illini to lose 9 yards in the quarter.On Illinois’ first snap of the second half, O’Toole threw an interception to Demens and the linebacker returned it 13 yards to the Illini 27 to set up another TD. Toole avoided getting sacked by Jake Ryan later in the third quarter, but held onto the ball long enough for the outside linebacker to get back to him to force a fumble at the Illinois 6.Fitzgerald Toussaint, who had 62 yards rushing on 18 carries, scored on a 2-yard run two plays later to put the Wolverines ahead 38-0.Michigan put backup Russell Bellomy, who replaced Robinson when he was hurt, came back in and promptly fumbled the ball away on the first drive of the fourth quarter.Later, Bellomy handed off to Thomas Rawls up the middle and the backup running back did the rest, breaking two tackles on a 63-yard run to give Michigan a 45-0 lead later in the fourth.Just before kickoff, college football’s winningest school unretired the jersey worn by former President Gerald Ford. The Wolverines let linebacker Desmond Morgan to wear No. 48 with a “Michigan Football Legends,” patch and he made a tackle on Illinois’ first play.