ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)—Michigan has won its first two games by an average of 22 points.
The 10th-ranked Wolverines beat Central Michigan 41-17 Saturday after handling Vanderbilt in their opener, but still don’t know if they are merely good or potentially great.
Michigan is about to find out because its next game is at No. 4 Notre Dame.
“It’s huge,” said Mike Hart, who ran for 116 yards and matched a career high with three TDs. “It’s not your season per se, but it shows you how good your team is.”
Even though the score was lopsided, the Wolverines (2-0) did not look impressive during much of the tuneup before playing the Fighting Irish.
Michigan had a fourth down on each of its first three drives and rarely was sharp in its passing game against the Chippewas (0-2). The Wolverines gave up some big plays on defense and a couple of long kickoff returns. Both sides of the ball combined to commit nine penalties for 73 yards.
“In every phase, we can certainly get better,” coach Lloyd Carr said. “But, I like where we are.”
Dan LeFevour threw for 153 yards with two TDs and two turnovers for the Chippewas.
The game was delayed an hour late in the first quarter because of lightning. It was the first weather interruption at Michigan Stadium—where the Wolverines have played since 1927—according to the school.
“It was like a halftime,” said Michigan defensive end LaMarr Woodley, who had two sacks, forced a fumble and recovered one. “We made some corrections, and just sat around.”
The game drew 108,712 fans and many returned to their seats after the delay.
After the rare delay, Hart’s second TD—an 18-yard run—gave Michigan a 14-0 lead.
“I thought it was going to be tough, but I came out energized,” Hart said. “We were all excited to get back out there and play.”
The Wolverines led 24-10 at halftime and 41-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Central Michigan had chances to make the game tight in the first quarter, but made too many mistakes.
LeFevour drove the Chippewas to Michigan’s 14 on their first drive, but fumbled. After stuffing Hart on the Wolverines’ third fourth down, an offsides penalty gave them a first down.
Running back Ontario Sneed fumbled late in the first quarter, giving Central Michigan four turnovers in three quarters—including the second half of the 31-24 loss to Boston College—after it had just 10 turnovers last year a total that tied for the fewest in Division I-A football.
“If I start out with, ‘We made a lot of mistakes today,’ it would not give Michigan due credit because they certainly had something to do with it,” Central Michigan coach Brian Kelly said.
Michigan improved to 21-0 against Mid-American Conference teams.
Henne was 11-of-19 for 113 yards—the lowest total of his career—without a TD or a turnover. The junior moved into fourth place in school history, passing Jim Harbaugh, with 5,517 yards passing.
He was still throwing passes in the middle of the fourth quarter ahead by four touchdowns, but Carr denied it was because he was unhappy with the passing game.
“For Notre Dame, we’re going to have to be a lot more balance,” Henne acknowledged. “We’re going to have to throw the ball and keep running. They’re going to stop the run, so we’re going to have to pass the ball.”
Hart had his second straight 100-yard game on 19 carries and matched the TD total he had against Northwestern two years ago as a freshman. The Wolverines are 11-1 when Hart runs for 100 yards, with the lone setback coming last year against Minnesota.
LeFevour was 17-of-36 after the freshman quarterback made his debut last week against Boston College when Brian Brunner left the game with a concussion.
“Playing two great teams like these, it just shows me things that I need to work on,” LeFevour said.
Central Michigan is hopeful Brunner can play next week at home against Akron.