Throwback style working as No. 25 Michigan awaits NIU
If it’s good enough for George Patton, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is here for it.
Michigan is playing an old-school brand of Big Ten football. The results are working just fine for Harbaugh, who reminded the masses he does not care about style points.
The Wolverines have relied on a run-based attack while defeating Western Michigan and Washington by a combined 54 points. They’ll look to go 3-0 in nonconference games when they play host to Northern Illinois on Saturday.
Michigan ran the ball 43 times for 335 yards and three scores in its 47-14 season-opening victory over the Broncos. The Wolverines expanded their ground-and-pound philosophy in a 31-10 win over the Huskies, rushing 56 times for 343 yards and four touchdowns.
Harbaugh isn’t offering any apologies. The Wolverines moved into the national rankings at No. 25.
“Heard a little bit of noise about it. ‘Why so much running? You’ve got to throw more.’ That kind of thing,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a lot of ways to travel. Some people choose to travel on the ground, some people by air.
“George Patton was able to get his job done on the ground. Neil Armstrong through the air,” he added. “Last Saturday night, we chose to grind it out on the ground and were also able to get our mission accomplished.”
Michigan has developed a nice 1-2 punch at running back, featuring the speed and shiftiness of 5-foot-8 Blake Corum and the power of 6-1 Hassan Haskins. Corum is averaging 8.1 yards on 35 carries with four touchdowns. He’s also scored a receiving touchdown. Haskins is averaging 5.6 yards on 40 carries with two scores.
Starting quarterback Cade McNamara has only attempted 26 passes.
“Throwing the ball might be more enjoyable to watch but playing in it as an offensive linemen, I love running the ball every play,” offensive tackle Andrew Stueber said. “Being able to come off the ball and reduce the defenders physically, it’s something I take a lot of pride in. I think everyone does as well.”
Northern Illinois (1-1) opened its season with a one-point win over Georgia Tech, then lost 50-43 to Wyoming on Saturday.
The Huskies were down 26 points in the third quarter, staged a furious rally to take the lead but allowed a touchdown with 1:35 remaining.
“I love the resiliency of our guys, they competed for four quarters,” head coach Thomas Hammock said. “They didn’t let the score affect them one way or the other, they just got ready for the next play.”
Quarterback Rocky Lombardi will try for an unprecedented double against the Wolverines. Last season, Lombardi led Michigan State to a 27-24 upset of its in-state rival at Michigan Stadium, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
Lombardi transferred to Northern Illinois and is now the Huskies’ starting quarterback. Just like Saturday’s game, his upset with Michigan State last season was at Michigan’s famed Big House.
Lombardi passed for 233 yards and a touchdown against Wyoming but was also intercepted three times.
“They really look like they got things going. They’re a team on the move, both offensively and defensively,” Harbaugh said. “Doing a great job executing, playing their systems.”
The teams have only met once, a Wolverines victory in 2005. Michigan is 34-1 all-time against Mid-American Conference opponents.
–Field Level Media