Rapid Recap: No. 6 Michigan 33, Northwestern 7

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Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern defensive end Samdup Miller tackles Michigan running back Hassan Haskins. The Wolverines defeated the Wildcats 33-7 behind 457 yards of offense.

Patrick Andres, Senior Staffer


Football


ANN ARBOR, Mich.Northwestern kicked off the second half of its season Saturday afternoon against No. 6 Michigan, seeking a program-changing upset in one of college football’s toughest environments.

The Wolverines (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten), however, dispatched the Wildcats (3-4, 1-3) in a businesslike fashion, riding a physical performance to a dominant 33-7 win.

Northwestern’s first scrimmage play was a rousing success, as sophomore quarterback Ryan Hilinski found junior wide receiver Malik Washington for a 29-yard gain. The Wildcats couldn’t get anything going after that and punted. Sophomore safety Brandon Joseph blew up Michigan’s first drive with the first sack of his college career. An exchange of punts followed and the two teams ended the first quarter locked in a 0-0 tie.

The Wolverines went to the ground to score their first points, as running back Hassan Haskins shook nearly the entire NU defense to pick up 19 yards on Michigan’s fourth play of the drive. Running back Blake Corum, his running mate, made two men miss on an 11-yard run before punching it in to give Michigan a 7-0 lead.

The Cats couldn’t get anything going on the ensuing drive, and the Wolverines bled the clock of 8:44 on the ensuing possession en route to kicker Jake Moody’s 20-yard boot. On the very next scrimmage play, sophomore running back Evan Hull raced 75 yards for a touchdown to put NU on the board. Michigan mounted another charge before the half, but sophomore defensive back Coco Azema stripped wide receiver Mike Sainristil on third and goal. Graduate student linebacker Chris Bergin recovered as the half drew to a close.

After nearly coughing up the opening kickoff, the Wolverines rode their running backs to another score. Haskins touched the ball three times and Corum four times as Michigan went up 17-7 on the latter’s five-yard run.

The Cats survived an early third and long on their next drive and benefited from a close defensive pass interference call, but came up empty when graduate student kicker Charlie Kuhbander bricked a 39-yard field goal for his fifth miss of the season.

After the Wolverines punted on their ensuing possession, NU stalled out and ran graduate student punter Derek Adams on to punt. Adams’ kick was blocked by Michigan wide receiver Cornelius Johnson, and Haskins waltzed into the end zone three plays later to give the Wolverines a 24-7 lead.

Befitting the two teams playing in it, the rest of the game was largely academic. Moody added another field goal, Haskins punched in another touchdown, and Michigan set up a showdown next Saturday afternoon with unbeaten Michigan State in East Lansing.

Takeaways:

1. Michigan’s two-headed monster runs to glory

Michigan’s heralded duo of Corum and Haskins, who entered averaging 183.7 yards per game combined, gave NU fits throughout the afternoon. Corum piled up 119 yards on 19 carries, while Haskins added 110 yards on 23 carries. The Wolverines mixed and matched Corum and Haskins carries to devastating effect, and even backup quarterback JJ McCarthy ripped off a 23-yard run late in the third quarter.

2. Hull’s adventurous year continues

Hull, expected to be the Cats’ bell cow after sophomore Cam Porter’s injury, began 2021 by touching the ball just twice in the first half against Michigan State. Against Ohio, he recorded NU’s longest run in 60 years. On Saturday, he combined elements of both games, dashing 75 yards to record the Cats’ only touchdown while picking up just six yards on his other five carries.

3. Where have you gone, Charlie Kuhbander?

Kuhbander, one of NU’s longest-tenured players, missed three field goals in 2017, four in 2018, four in 2019, and three in 2020. He has already missed five in 2021, making just four of his nine field goals on the year thus far. Against Michigan State, Rutgers and Michigan, he missed all of the field goals he attempted. The once-reliable Kuhbander’s struggles haven’t helped the Cats’ already scuffling red-zone offense, which ranked 124th in the nation entering the afternoon.

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Twitter: @pandres2001