By JACK VANASSCHE, Editor-in-Chief
Despite sloppy play on all sides of the ball during Michigan’s game over the University of Cincinnati on Saturday, the Wolverines were able to pull away late for a 36-14 win over the Bearcats.
Michigan fans slowly trickled in to the first home game of the season on Saturday expecting to see quarterback Wilton Speight and the young Wolverines (2-0) to take a step forward from their dominant win over Florida a week ago.
Instead, fans found themselves booing a Michigan offense that couldn’t muster up a decent drive for much of the first half against a Cincinnati (1-1) team that nearly lost to an FCS opponent a week before.
Ty Isaac helped the Wolverines to victory on a career-high day with 133 rushing yards, while Speight threw for two scores.
The senior quarterback had trouble early on, fumbling twice in the game and struggling to pinpoint his throws all game long.
He finished 17-for-29 passing for 221 yards, 2 touchdowns and a QBR of 38.0.
Receivers Kekoa Crawford and Grant Perry had big games for the Wolverines, breaking through with big catches when frustration was just starting to boil over.
Crawford took a 43-yard deep pass from Speight through blown coverage over the top straight into the end zone early in the first quarter to put Michigan up 7-0 immediately.
Tyree Kinnel then intercepted Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore and returned it for a 28-yard touchdown just five minutes later. The pick-six was Kinnel’s first career interception and first career score. Kinnel led the Wolverines on defense with nine tackles on the day, including a sack.
With a 14-0 lead, the Wolverines were expected to continue to cruise over the Bearcats, but instead lost their gear.
Cincinnati scored a touchdown on the Wolverines following a special teams turnover, the first the defense had given up so far this year.
After a stalled red zone trip for the Wolverines, kicker Quinn Nordin added three for Michigan with a 28-yard field goal.
However, the Bearcats struck back with a 10-play, 85-yard drive that ended in the endzone to cut Michigan’s lead to 14-7 to begin the third quarter.
Soon, the 34.5-point favorite Wolverines pulled away with a decisive 36-14 victory after a Grant Perry touchdown, a safety on a Cincinnati mishandled snap, and another pick-six from Michigan’s defense.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh understood the frustration of some fans during the game, but stressed the importance of his young team staying on the field to gain experience.
“You can’t get experience without playing,” he said. “Some people call it stubbornness. Well, I call it patience.
“There was a lot of good, and there were a lot of times that the screens were going a little fuzzy and we weren’t doing our assignments.”
Harbaugh also said the team will continue to run a serious playbook, and vowed not to “dumb it down, Barney-style” for his young team.
Michigan will look to progress as they host Air Force on Saturday.