Sept. 24, 2011
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan Stadium)
Score: Michigan 28, San Diego State 7
Records: U-M (4-0), SDSU (3-1)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Oct. 1 -- vs. Minnesota (Michigan Stadium), Noon
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Junior quarterback Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) and the University of Michigan football team (No. 22 AP/No. 21 USA Today Coaches) rushed out to a fast start against San Diego State in a 28-7 victory Saturday (Sept. 24) at Michigan Stadium.
Robinson did most of his damage with his legs, racking up 200 rushing yards on 21 carries and tying his career high with three rushing touchdowns, with the trio of scores coming in the first half. It was the third time in his career that Robinson has recorded 200 rushing yards or more and the seventh time he has produced multiple rushing touchdowns in a game. Robinson added 93 passing yards, completing 8-of-17 passes.
The win gives the Wolverines (4-0) a sweep of the non-conference portion of their schedule for the third straight season and extends their September winning streak to 13 games.
Junior running back Vincent Smith (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee) posted nine carries for 47 yards and a seven-yard touchdown run and was Robinson's favorite receiving target with a team-best three catches for 44 yards. Junior/sophomore tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) contributed to Michigan's team total of 320 rushing yards with 13 rushes for 67 yards.
The Michigan defense was relentless throughout the afternoon, shutting out SDSU in the first half and preserving the Wolverines' lead despite being in dangerous, short-field situations in the second half. Junior defensive end Craig Roh (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) made his two tackles count as they both went for a loss, including his third career sack and third career forced fumble. Senior/junior linebacker Kenny Demens (Oak Park, Mich./Detroit Country Day) had a team-high seven tackles and forced a fumble in the first quarter. Junior/sophomore safety Thomas Gordon (Detroit, Mich./Cass Technical) also contributed a team-high seven tackles and recovered a fumble -- his second fumble recovery and third takeaway in the last two games. Sophomore/freshman linebacker Jake Ryan (Westlake, Ohio/St. Ignatius) registered five tackles, including one for a loss, and had the first two fumble recoveries of his career.
After Roh and the Michigan defense stuffed San Diego State to force a three-and-out to start the game, Robinson and Smith accounted for 59 of Michigan's 61 yards -- all rushing -- on the ensuing possession. Each had a big play to extend the drive, with Robinson scrambling 19 yards on third down and Smith breaking multiple tackles for a 32-yard gain. Robinson scored on a designed quarterback run from five yards out following Smith's long run for the first score of the contest and a 7-0 Michigan lead.
The Wolverine defense set up Michigan's second touchdown when Demens forced the SDSU running back to fumble the football, which was recovered by Gordon. Robinson rewarded the defense's effort with his second touchdown run three plays later. Robinson sprinted down the right hash marks a season-long 53 yards untouched on an option play to extend U-M's lead to 14-0 with 6:22 left in the opening frame.
Both offenses stalled on their next few drives with holding penalties negating significant gains that would have entered opposing territory. The Maize and Blue regained its offensive rhythm late in the second quarter with a 12-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in Robinson's third rushing touchdown. Robinson converted a fourth-and-two from U-M's 48-yard line and later scampered 34 yards down to the SDSU 11-yard line. He finished the drive on a naked bootleg to the left, where he sidestepped two Aztec defenders for a one-yard rushing touchdown to give Michigan a 21-0 lead heading into the halftime break.
The second half began with sloppy play from both offenses, resulting in three turnovers in the first six minutes. The most pivotal turnover was committed by San Diego State when the Aztec running back broke off a large gain on a toss sweep, but fifth-year senior defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen (Whitehall, Mich./Whitehall) forced a fumble on his 100th career tackle, and Ryan jumped on it inside the Michigan five-yard line to prevent a SDSU scoring chance. However, the Aztecs took advantage of Michigan's third turnover of the third quarter with a 16-yard touchdown pass with four seconds remaining in the third stanza to cut the Wolverine lead to 21-7.
The Aztecs had an opportunity to cut their deficit to one score, but the SDSU quarterback was unable to connect with his tight end on fourth-and-two from the U-M 43-yard line. Michigan responded four plays later with a seven-yard rushing touchdown by Smith, who seemed to have been stuffed a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage before plowing through a few defenders and reaching over the goal line for a 28-7 advantage with 6:29 left in the game.
San Diego State transitioned into a fast-paced, no-huddle offense and marched inside the U-M red zone late in the final frame, threatening to score. However, Roh sacked the quarterback and knocked the ball loose just before the SDSU signal caller was about to attempt his pass, allowing Ryan to post his second fumble recovery of the game and seal the win for Michigan.
Next week the Maize and Blue opens its Big Ten Conference schedule at home against Minnesota with the renewal of the battle for the Little Brown Jug. Kickoff is set for noon Saturday (Oct. 1) on the Big Ten Network.
Contact: Justin Dickens (734) 763-4423