Michigan Vs. Illinois: Fitzgerald Toussaint's 192 Yards Lead Wolverines To 31-14 Win

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Michigan's Denard Robinson Leaves Game With Bruised Wrist; Coach Brady Hoke Says Injury Was Not Serious

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson left the Wolverines’ game versus Illinois late in the third quarter with what appeared to be a hand injury. Television replays and close-ups showed that Robinson banged his throwing hand on an Illinois player’s helmet who was rushing the quarterback.

Devin Gardner took over at quarterback and led the Michigan offense to a field goal and two touchdowns, as the Wolverines beat the Fighting Illini, 31-14.

Was Robinson’s injury serious, however? According to head coach Brady Hoke (via Detroit News reporter Angelique Chengelis), Robinson suffered a bruised wrist and could have returned to the game, if needed.

That would seem to indicate that taking Robinson out was more of a cautionary measure, perhaps to prevent further injury. No word on whether or not Robinson was having trouble gripping the football or anything like that. Robinson also briefly left the game earlier when he appeared to fall hard on his right arm while being tackled.

Another consideration may have been that the Michigan offense was moving well with Gardner at quarterback. Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges may have wanted to go with the hot hand, especially since the offense struggled for most of the game as Robinson was once again inconsistent in throwing the football.

Hoke insisting that Robinson could have returned to the game may have been an attempt to thwart any burgeoning quarterback controversy. Some Michigan fans have been eager for Gardner to get more playing time as Robinson seems to be getting worse each week as a passer. However, making a change with two games left in the season seems unlikely. And it’s not like Gardner played flawlessly.

Regardless, Robinson’s status will certainly be worth keeping an eye on throughout next week as Michigan prepares to host Nebraska.

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Michigan Vs. Illinois Final Score: Fitzgerald Toussaint's 192 Yards Lead Wolverines To 31-14 Win

It wasn’t the prettiest performance by a Michigan football team, but the path toward their eighth victory of the season soon became apparent: Give the ball to Fitzgerald Toussaint.

The sophomore running back rushed for 121 yards in the first quarter on his way to a career-high 192 yards, leading the Wolverines to a 31-14 win over Illinois in Champaign. Toussaint’s 27-yard touchdown run with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter put the game away and capped off his best game in a Michigan uniform thus far.

When Michigan wasn’t calling a running play, the offense generally struggled. Denard Robinson completed only 6-of-11 passes for 91 yards and two interceptions. On the ground, he added 42 yards with a touchdown and fumble on 11 carries.

Robinson left the game late in the third quarter with an apparent hand injury. Television replays and close-ups showed that he appeared to hit his throwing hand on an Illinois pass rusher’s helmet. Devin Gardner took over for the rest of the game and led the Wolverines’ offense to two touchdowns and a field goal.

Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News quoted coach Brady Hoke as saying Robinson suffered a bruised wrist and could have come back into the game, if needed. Some Michigan fans will surely call for Gardner to be Michigan’s quarterback over Robinson. But making such a change with two games remaining in the season seems highly unlikely, despite Robinson’s struggles throwing the ball.

Receiver Martavious Odoms reminded everyone he still played for Michigan with two big catches, one of which was a 27-yard grab for a touchdown to give Michigan a 24-7 lead early in the third quarter.

However, besides Toussaint’s big day, the story for Michigan may have been the performance of its defense. The Wolverines hassled Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase throughout the game (sacking him four times) and held the Illini to 50 yards rushing for the game. (Of course, the Illini had to abandon the run in the fourth quarter while trying to get back into the game with quick scores.)

Scheelhasse and tailback Jason Ford each rushed for second-half touchdowns, but Illinois never cut Michigan’s lead to less than 10 points.

With the win, the Wolverines improve to 8-2 on the season and 4-2 in conference play. They’re tied with Nebraska for second place in the Big Ten Legends Division after the Cornhuskers’ win at Penn State, trailing Michigan State, who won big at Iowa on Saturday.

Michigan hosts Nebraska next week in what will be an important game to determine second place (or perhaps even first) in the Legends Division. Game time is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.

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Michigan Vs. Illinois Score: Fighting Illini Close Margin To 17-7 In 3rd Quarter

How ugly was the third quarter between Michigan and Illinois? Both backup quarterbacks saw action, whether it was due to injury or poor performance.

Denard Robinson appeared to aggravate a right arm (elbow?) injury midway through the quarter, and was taken out of the game in favor of Devin Gardner. But Robinson’s performance could also have been a factor in the decision. After three quarters, he’s completed 6-of-11 passes for 91 yards and two interceptions.

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was also taken out of the game on the offense’s second possession of the quarter, with Reilly O’Toole taking over. He completed 1-of-3 passes for seven yards before Scheelhaase came back into the game. And after returning, he appears to have found a bit of a rhythm. Overall, Scheelhaase has thrown for 96 yards on 9-of-18 passing.

Illinois finally broke through and scored a touchdown before the end of the quarter on a Scheelhaase 13-yard run, cutting Michigan’s lead to 17-7.

After a dominant first quarter running the ball, Michigan has struggled to crank out consistent yardage in the rushing game. Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 121 yards on nine carries in that first quarter, but has managed 36 yards on 15 carries since then. What yardage the Wolverines have been able to grind out has been largely from Robinson.

Michigan has the ball as the fourth quarter begins.

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Michigan Vs. Illinois Score: Wolverines Lead 14-0 At Half, But Squander Chances For More

None of us know what Illinois coach Ron Zook will say to his team at halftime, but his remarks could begin with, “We’re lucky to only be down 14-0. So we’re still in this game.”

The Fighting Illini trail Michigan by 14-0 at halftime, but the Wolverines squandered several opportunities to build a much bigger lead.

First and foremost was a 1st-and-goal at the three-yard line early in the second quarter, after Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson completed a 39-yard pass to tight end Kevin Koger. Two subsequent rushes by Fitzgerald Toussaint lost five yards. Robinson then ran around left end for a seven-yard run and appeared to get the ball over the pylon for a touchdown.

However, replay showed that Robinson stepped out of bounds inside the Illinois two-yard line, negating the score and giving Michigan a fourth down. The Wolverines opted to skip the field goal and go for the touchdown. Unfortunately, the offense looked badly out of sync on an option play and lost three yards.

Michigan again had a chance to extend their lead after Jordan Kovacs forced a fumble by Illinois running back Jason Ford. Safety Thomas Gordon recovered at the Illini 13-yard line. But a fake reverse and outside run by Michael Shaw lost eight yards and Robinson fumbled on the next play under a heavy pass rush.

Yet another scoring opportunity presented itself when the Michigan defense forced Illinois into a three-and-out. A 19-yard pass from Robinson to Martavious Odoms moved the Wolverines to the Illini 19-yard line. But Toussaint lost two yards on a running play, and Robinson followed up with two incomplete passes. Brandon Gibbons finished the failed drive by missing a 38-yard field goal.

Michigan has outgained Illinois 259 yards to 42. The Wolverines have 168 rushing yards to the Fighting Illini’s 2. Illinois had only one first down in the first half. Taking all that into consideration, they should probably be happy at trailing by only two touchdowns.

Illinois gets the ball to begin the second half. Virtually anything from their offense would be an improvement. But give credit to the Michigan defense and coordinator Greg Mattison for timing blitzes and well and mixing up coverages to confuse Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.

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Michigan Vs. Illinois Score: Toussaint Runs Wolverines To 7-0 1st Quarter Lead

After one quarter in Champaign, Ill., the football game between Michigan and Illinois has been the Fitzgerald Toussaint show.

The sophomore tailback has rushed for 121 yards on nine carries, including a 65-yard on the Wolverines’ second offensive play of the game. Michigan compiled 172 yards of total offense in the quarter, so 51 yards from players other than Toussaint were sprinkled in there.

Denard Robinson completed both of his first quarter passes for 16 yards. He contributed another 24 yards rushing with two touchdowns, though he also fumbled late in the quarter while trying to fight for extra yardage. Michael Shaw added 11 yards on two carries.

Illinois only managed 13 yards of total offense in the first quarter. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase completed one pass for six yards and rushed for only four. Two other Fighting Illini running backs have run for just three yards on three carries.

Michigan has the ball as the second quarter begins.

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