Toussaint leads No. 17 Michigan over Purdue 36-14
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan had a throwback game, giving the ball to running back Fitzgerald Toussaint 20 times and shutting down Purdue on defense.
Toussaint ran for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns to lead the 17th-ranked Wolverines in a 36-14 win over the Boilermakers on Saturday.
Michigan gave up a TD on the opening drive of the game, then scored 36 straight points thanks to a dominant defensive line and a relentless running game.
"Playing defense and then running the football and being able to knock people off the line of scrimmage - that, in my mind, is what Michigan football is," coach Brady Hoke said.
The Wolverines (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) bounced back from their first loss of the season, two weeks ago at Michigan State, and moved into a first-place tie with the Spartans and Nebraska in the conference's Legends Division.
"They responded a bit," Hoke acknowledged.
Purdue (4-4, 2-2) hasn't won or lost consecutive games this year, but is two victories from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.
Toussaint had 155 yards rushing through three quarters, helping Michigan find a rusher to take some of the load from quarterback Denard Robinson. Backup Michael Shaw ran for a 37-yard TD on his first carry early in the fourth for a 36-7 lead.
"They did a very good job of taking the ball out of Denard's hands and spreading it around," Boilermakers coach Danny Hope said. "They got their backs to the perimeter and we were thin out there."
"We thought we were going to be able to keep that going," TerBush said. "I don't think they did much to stop us. We just didn't do the things we needed to keep moving the ball. That's on us."
The Boilermakers wasted their first good chance to end the drought early in the fourth when TerBush was stopped inside the Michigan 1 on a fourth-down run.
Michigan moved on from its 28-14 setback in East Lansing with a performance that might help college football's winningest program prevent another late-season slide. The Spartans handed the Wolverines their first loss in each of the previous two years, touching off six- and seven-loss finishes that eventually brought about the firing of Rich Rodriguez and hiring of Hoke.
Robinson, his teammates and coaches are confident this season will be different.
"We don't really care about what other people think," Robinson said. "It's about this team."
Michigan has tried to re-establish a traditional power running game this season and gotten mixed results - until pounding Purdue with a heavy dose of Toussaint left, right and up the middle.
"I wish it looked like that every week," Hoke said.
Robinson completed five of his first six passes, before locking in on a target and throwing an interception in Purdue territory. He finished 9 of 14 for 170 yards. Robinson ran 15 times, his third-lowest total this year, for 63 yards and a score on Michigan's first drive that made it 7-all midway through the first quarter.
Devin Gardner threw an interception on his first attempt, an ill-advised throw into coverage that sailed high and fell short of the receiver near the end zone. Gardner completed a 26-yard throw on his only other pass and gained experience while giving Robinson a break in the fourth quarter.
Mike Martin brought down TerBush in the end zone to put Michigan ahead for the first time, early in the second quarter, and the defensive tackle led his linemates with two sacks and seven tackles.
Toussaint's first TD and Brendan Gibbons' two field goals gave the Wolverines a 22-7 lead at halftime.
The shifty running back took a pitch to the left from Gardner, who faked a handoff to Robinson, and cut back across the field for a 59-yard run that put Michigan ahead by more than three TDs.
"Credit goes out to the offensive line," Toussaint said.
Purdue played both of its QBs as planned.
TerBush was 9 of 13 for 156 yards with a TD. Marve was 8 of 14 for 66 yards with a TD and an interception.
The Boilermakers didn't have a player with more than 58 yards rushing or receiving.
"We wanted to attack the perimeter because other teams have done that against them and it is something we do normally," Hope said. "But they did a great job of forcing our running attack inside. We just weren't physical enough."
Updated October 29, 2011