ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan got its shutout this time around.
A week after defensive players expressed disappointment in a 28-7 win in which they manhandled UNLV, they got the result they were after in an equally dominant 31-0 victory over No. 22 BYU. Michigan picked up its first shutout since October 2012 against a haggard BYU offense that had no answers for a Wolverines team that is getting better on a weekly basis.
BYU freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum's early season magic didn’t travel to Ann Arbor. He finished 12-of-28 for 55 yards. The Cougars offense totaled only 105 yards and eight first downs. The Wolverines defense, meanwhile, has allowed only 14 points in its past three wins over BYU, UNLV and Oregon State.
Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock had his most productive performance to date in a maize-and-blue uniform. He ran for two touchdowns in the first half and threw another to senior receiver Amara Darboh.
Michigan scored touchdowns on four straight possessions to open a commanding first-half lead, including a 60-yard run from running back De'Veon Smith, who left a trail of hapless Cougars tacklers in his wake en route to the end zone. Smith (16 carries, 125 yards) watched the end of the game in a walking boot after hurting his right foot in the third quarter. A university spokesman said the boot was for precautionary reasons.
What the win means for Michigan: It’s clear now that Michigan has already made significant strides under Harbaugh and his coaching staff. A dominant defense makes this team a dangerous opponent for any team in Big Ten play, which begins next Saturday.
What the loss means for BYU: The Cougars’ aggressive September schedule caught up to them in a big way in Ann Arbor. Things get considerably easier from here on out for a BYU team that didn’t look like itself against the Wolverines.
Top play: Darboh’s spinning one-handed catch in the first quarter looked like a carbon copy of the kinds of catches fans have to come to expect from New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The acrobatic grab on third down went for 21 yards and helped the Wolverines to their first touchdown of the day. Darboh caught a touchdown pass in the second quarter, providing a good ending to a week that also included the Sierra Leone native becoming a U.S. citizen.
Stat of the game: Michigan’s power running game has eclipsed 200 yards on the ground in each of its past three games. After gaining only 76 rushing yards in Harbaugh’s debut, the Wolverines have made vast improvements. They ran for 254 yards against BYU, 254 against UNLV and 225 against Oregon State. They have also had a 100-yard rusher in all three of those games.