No. 6 Michigan tops Northwestern 33-7

Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins combined for 229 yards rushing and four touchdowns, carrying No. 6 Michigan to a 33-7 win over Northwestern on Saturday.

The Wolverines (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) closed strong after a sluggish start. They led by just three points at halftime, looking as if they were peeking ahead to next week’s game against ninth-ranked Michigan State on the road.

Michigan pulled away from the Wildcats (3-4, 1-3) by outscoring them 23-0 in the first 16:40 of the second half.

Corum finished with 119 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Haskins ran for 110 yards and two scores. Cade McNamara was 20 of 27 for 129 yards for the Wolverines.

Northwestern quarterback Ryan Hilinski, a South Carolina transfer, completed 14 of 29 passes for 114 yards with an interception. He was replaced early in the fourth quarter by Carl Richardson.

Evan Hull had a 75-yard touchdown late in the second quarter, making it 10-7 and nearly doubling the yards the Wildcats had in the game at that point.

THE TAKEAWAY

Northwestern: The defense, which has improved steadily this season, held a potent offense in check during the first half before wearing down because the Wildcats struggled to sustain drives offensively.

Michigan: Coming off a bye and before playing the Spartans, a lackluster start was understandable even if coach Jim Harbaugh and his players refuse to make excuses for it.

STRONG START

Michigan has won its first seven games for the first time since 2016, Harbaugh’s second season, when it started 9-0 and finished 10-3 with a loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

DOING IT ALL

Wide receiver Cornelius Johnson blocked a punt in the third quarter, setting up Haskins’ 13-yard run that gave Michigan a 24-7 lead. He also caught three passes for 30 yards, drew at least one flag for a first down, and had a 6-yard run.

Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, the Big Ten’s top defensive player at midseason, recovered a fumble early in the fourth after sharing a sack, deflecting a pass and getting credit for two quarterback hurries.

TROPHY GAME

The Wolverines won the newly created George Jewett Trophy, honoring the first Black football player at both schools. Jewett played for Michigan during the 1890 and 1892 seasons, then left Michigan for Northwestern in 1893 to finish his medical degree. He played two seasons for the Wildcats.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Michigan doesn’t have much room to move up, but will close the regular season with plenty of chances against Michigan State, No. 7 Penn State and No. 5 Ohio State.

UP NEXT

Northwestern: Hosts Minnesota.

Michigan: Plays at Spartan Stadium in a highly anticipated matchup of undefeated rivals.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.