Editor’s note: This game story has been updated with quotes and a notebook.
Check out a gallery from Michigan’s win over Oregon State by clicking here.
By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
Michigan needed a spark in Jim Harbaugh’s home debut Saturday. Its offense was struggling to move the ball while Oregon State — a 14-point underdog — turned heads early.
De’Veon Smith provided a spark and more in the Wolverines’ 35-7 win over the Beavers.
The junior running back rushed for 126 yards and three scores, leading a powerful running game that totaled 244 yards all four of Michigan’s touchdowns. He became the first Wolverines running back with three touchdowns in a game since Fitzgerald Toussaint scored four times against Indiana in 2013.
But Smith’s biggest play, one that shifted momentum in the Wolverines’ (1-1) favor, came through the air in the second quarter. The team was down 7-3 and faced 4th-and-5 on Oregon State’s (1-1) 28-yard line. A wide-open Smith hauled in 20-yard pass from quarterback Jake Rudock to set up Michigan’s first touchdown.
“I’m happy I caught the ball this time, last week I dropped a ball,” Smith said. “That’s one thing I was trying to work on this week, catching the ball, looking the ball and getting up field.”
Harbaugh praised Rudock’s poise on the pass to Smith.
“That was a big play in the game. A real good call from Coach Fisch. I thought Jake was extremely cool and collected on that play and threw an accurate pass. It was a good play.”
Rudock recovered after a dud of a Michigan debut against Utah. The quarterback went 18-for-26 passing with 180 yards, and tossed an interception in the fourth quarter.
Redshirt junior Amara Darboh led the Wolverines in receiving with 50 yards on four receptions. Second-year freshman Ian Bunting played a greater role at tight end, catching two passes for 33 yards.
For the second consecutive game, Michigan’s special teams play was phenomenal. True freshman Brian Cole came close to blocking several punts and the Wolverines took advantage of an Oregon State miscue to pull away late in the first half.
The Beavers opted to punt on its last drive of the first half and pinned Michigan inside its 2-yard line, but an illegal formation penalty called for a re-punt. On the second attempt, the snap sailed over punter Nick Porebski’s head and the Wolverines recovered the ball on the Beavers’ 3-yard line. The miscue set up Smith’s second score of the game, and the Wolverines never looked back.
Oregon State started strong, totaling 79 yards and a touchdown on the game’s opening drive. But that was it for the Beavers, who immediately stalled against a strong Michigan defense. The Wolverines held their foe to 138 total yards on 12 drives.
Michigan returns to action Sept. 19 against University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Ten months after tearing his ACL for a second time, redshirt junior Drake Johnson made his season debut. He had one carry for three yards in the first quarter.
Derrick Green and Ty Isaac each played a reserve role Saturday. Both backs totaled 35 yards, but Green had two more carries and a touchdown, Michigan’s last of the game.