ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)Blake Corum made plays without the ball in his hands, drawing a safety on a fake to set up one of J.J. McCarthy’s touchdown passes and paving the way to help him run for a score.
Corum also ran for 162 yards and scored a touchdown of his own, helping No. 3 Michigan stay undefeated with a 34-3 win over Nebraska on Saturday.
Instead of constantly handing the ball off to Corum near the end zone as the Wolverines have many times, they used him as a decoy to set up McCarthy’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Bell and as a lead blocker for the quarterback on a designed run for another score.
”That was something different, right?” coach Jim Harbaugh asked.
The Wolverines (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten, No. 3 CFP) have won their first 10 games for the first time since 2006, when they closed the regular season as the second-ranked team with a loss to rival and top-ranked Ohio State.
In two weeks, Michigan will play the Buckeyes on the road with the Big Ten East Division title and likely spot in the College Football Playoff at stake.
”It’s a joyful, happy ride that we’re on,” Harbaugh said. ”It’s a mssion, but it’s a happy mission. It’s not one that has any anxiety or anger or any kind of fear.”
Michigan was in control from the start against the Cornhuskers (3-7, 2-5) and opened with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that Corum capped with a 2-yard run for his 18th touchdown.
Nebraska started quarterback Chubba Purdy in place of Casey Thompson, who missed a second straight game with an elbow injury, and he left the game in the second quarter after appearing to injure his right ankle.
Logan Smothers filled in and after fumbling a snap, the Cornhuskers settled for a field goal and 14-3 score.
”He’s been banged up (for) two weeks, but he’s a tough kid and he’s going to play,” interim coach Mickey Joseph said.
Purdy was 6 of 12 for 56 yards and ran for a team-high 39 yards. Smothers was 4 of 8 for 15 yards for the Cornuskers, who finished with just 146 yards of offense.
”We tried to go more to the run game with Logan and tried to show some more option,” Joseph said. ”But we were trying to make sure that he didn’t take any direct hits.”
Nebraska offensive coordinator Mark Whipple was carted off the field at halftime and taken for X-rays after Michigan receiver A.J. Henning ran into him behind the sideline in the second quarter.
Also in the first half, Cornhuskers running back Alante Brown tried to hurdle Mike Sainristil and the cornerback hit his trail leg, sending him higher into the air where defensive back D.J. Turner hit him.
”That wasn’t a smart hurdle by him,” Corum said. ”Mikey was not going low. He could’ve snapped his neck.”
Michigan defensive back Gemon Green played sparingly, returning to the field for the first time since being hit by at least one Michigan State player two weeks ago during the melee in the Michigan Stadium tunnel.
The police investigation into the melee in has been turned over to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office for review, it was announced Saturday night.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers were hoping for a spark under Joseph, but he is 2-5 since replacing Scott Frost after he was fired in September with a 16-31 mark in four-plus seasons.
”We’ve got to keep going,” Joseph said. ”We’re not gonna quit.”
Michigan: The passing game has a lot of improving to do, and not much time to pull it off, to improve the team’s chances of winning at Ohio State for the first time since 2000. McCarthy was 8 of 17 for 129 yards with two touchdown passes.
Nebraska: Hosts Wisconsin and plays at Iowa to end the season.
Michigan: Plays No. 21 Illinois, which will likely fall out of the AP Top 25 after losing to Purdue, in a final tuneup before traveling to Ohio State.
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