ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight didn't get the immediate beginning he wanted after winning a months-long quarterback competition to start under center for the No. 7 Wolverines.
After that, not much else went wrong for Speight or the Wolverines. The junior quarterback threw for 123 yards with three touchdowns to three different receivers as Michigan rolled up a 35-0 halftime lead. He finished 10-of-13 for 145 yards as the Wolverines cruised to a 63-3 victory.
While it took a full offseason for head coach Jim Harbaugh to publicly state his confidence in Speight as the starter, that faith didn't falter with the rocky start. Speight said the coach almost laughed when he made it to the sideline after throwing the interception.
"Obviously that wasn't the start I was imagining," Speight said. "I was kind of rolling to our sideline and my momentum carried me right into Coach. He just grabbed me and held me and kind of starting laughing."
Harbaugh said he was much more concerned with seeing how Speight would bounce back from his first major mistake of the year. Michigan started the following drive on its own 2-yard line, and the redshirt sophomore engineered a 98-yard touchdown drive capped off by a corner route pass to Grant Perry in the end zone that the coach said "couldn't have been thrown any better."
"He responded in tremendous fashion," Harbaugh said. "He had total command, and I think it bodes really well for our team and it bodes really well for his career."
Three other quarterbacks -- Shane Morris, John O'Korn and Alex Malzone -- all played in the Wolverines' blowout victory Saturday. Morris and O'Korn completed all seven of their combined passing attempts for a total of 61 yards between them. Harbaugh said the competition among all the quarterbacks during August helped push each individual higher.
Speight said he isn't sure exactly when he won the starting job, but he went into training camp with the confidence that it was his to lose. Harbaugh said he and the team had decided on Speight as their man last week, but the decision was "not for public consumption" before Saturday's first snap.
"You just kind of read body language and how practice is going and stuff like that," Speight said Aug. 23. "I think guys will have a certain mindset going into the game. You just kind of feel it out."
Speight played in six games as a backup last season, most notably leading a game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against Minnesota.
Harbaugh also had opted to keep his starting quarterback private for last season's opener, ultimately deciding to go with fifth-year senior Jake Rudock. He went on to throw for 3,017 yards and 20 touchdowns as Michigan won 10 games in Harbaugh's first season as coach of his alma mater.
In other news for the Wolverines, top running back De'Veon Smith left the game early with a midsection injury but should be ready for next week's game against Central Florida. Harbaugh said it was a coach's decision not to play All-America cornerback Jourdan Lewis at all in the first game of the season because of a minor injury. Lewis was in full pads on the sideline and is also expected to return next week.
Starting defensive linemen Bryan Mone and Taco Charlton, however, are more in doubt for next week. Mone, who missed all of last season with a broken leg, will get an MRI for an unspecified injury. Charlton injured an ankle Saturday.