Michigan ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan safety Jeremy Clark tackles Brigham Young running back Nate Carter in the third quarter.

Michigan’s defense, coming off a shutout of BYU, is ranked No. 2 nationally.

The Wolverines’ defense dominated No. 22 BYU last Saturday and held the Cougars to 105 yards, 4-of-15 on third down and had eight three-and-outs.

It was Michigan’s first victory over a ranked team since defeating No. 14 Notre Dame, 41-30, in 2013 and the program’s first shutout since defeating Illinois 45-0 in 2012.

The rout of the nation’s No. 22 team returned Michigan to the Associated Press Top-25 national rankings released Sunday. The Wolverines are now ranked No. 22 in the AP poll and received votes in the Coaches’ Poll but fell just short at No. 26. They last appeared in the AP poll on Oct. 25, 2013 when they were No. 23, but finished that season with two losses in their final three regular-season games and, obviously, out of the Top 25.

Michigan cracks Top 25 at No. 22; MSU steady at No. 2

During the “Inside Michigan Football” show on Sunday, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh offered praise for the Wolverines’ defensive performance.

“I don’t want to pat ourselves on the back too much, but you really have to tip of the cap to our defense, our coaches,” Harbaugh said on the television show.  “We feel like we’re getting better and playing really well. Our players, they’re competitive, but they’re playing as a team. It’s not self-centered type of competitiveness.

“Heck of a job. Can’t remember being a part of a shutout that only gave up 105 yards. The amount of three and outs we had … it was really good. But now it’s onward to the Big Ten season and preparing for Maryland.”

Michigan travels to Maryland for a prime-time game Saturday. The Wolverines are 3-1 and on the cusp of breaking into the coaches top 25 poll. They technically are ranked No. 26.

The Michigan defense has been stifling and has allowed only 14 points in the last three games. The Wolverines are ranked No. 4 nationally in scoring defense (9.5 points per game), No. 5 in passing yards allowed (121.8 yards per game) and 10th in rushing defense (82.0).

Only Boston College, at 118 yards allowed per game, is better nationally that Michigan (203.8) in total defense.

For the second straight game, Michigan rushed for 254 yards. Lead back De’Veon Smith, who left the game with a right ankle injury, had 125 yards on 16 carries, and had a bruising 60-yard touchdown run. Smith was wearing a protective boot after the game but assured he would be ready for the Big Ten opener.

Four tight ends caught passes against BYU — Khalid Hill, Jake Butt, whose 41-yard reception was the longest of the season from quarterback Jake Rudock, Ian Bunting and A.J. Williams. Versatile Henry Poggi also had a catch, and Harbaugh praised the tight ends for playing some at fullback considering Joe Kerridge is out with an ankle injury and Sione Houma had what Harbaugh described on the show as a “cramp issue”.

Harbaugh also mentioned senior tight end Mike Jocz (Novi High) getting in the game. Jocz, he said, “may be our smartest guy on the team.” He is majoring in electrical engineering.

All the running backs had carries. Derrick Green had 10 for 28 yards, Drake Johnson had five for 26, Ty Isaac had nine yards on two carries and Ross Douglas had seven yards on three carries.

“They all want the ball more, and they’re stating their case every time they get the ball,” Harbaugh said on the show. “They’re hungry, and that’s a good thing for us.”