UM’s Magnuson: ‘Something very special could happen’

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
The third-ranked Michigan Wolverines travel to Columbus to face the second-ranked Buckeyes on Saturday.

Piscataway, N.J. — Michigan scorched Rutgers, 78-0, on Saturday and now has a bit of time to heal but not relax before playing again.

The Wolverines don’t have a game this week and return Oct. 22 to face Illinois at Michigan Stadium. They are 6-0 (3-0 Big Ten) and that includes a victory just more than a week ago against then-No. 8 Wisconsin, the Wolverines’ first victory over a top-10 team since 2008.

As they sit six weeks into the season, the Wolverines boast the nation’s top-rated defense, holding teams to an average of 212.8 yards a game. Rutgers wasn’t that lucky. The Scarlet Knights, shut out on 17 third-down attempts, didn’t get a first down until late in the game. They were held to 39 total yards.

Michigan players sense something special brewing but also know that after the off weekend, they have a six-game stretch that includes road games at Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State.

“Yeah, I mean last week with our first top-10 win I’ve been part of since I don’t know how long it’s been since Michigan’s beat a top-10 team but it’s been a while, and then (against Rutgers) with a record night offensively with nine rushing touchdowns and all those yards we had (600), something very special could happen,” right tackle Erik Magnuson said after the game.

“But we’ve got to keep this up. We’ve got a bye week. (We) can’t let that get to us.”

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Fullback Khalid Hill, who accounted for three touchdowns against Rutgers, including two rushing, said the team overall is more balanced, but then pointed to the Wolverines’ slow start against the Scarlet Knights. They punted the first two series and fumbled on the third.

“There’s still improvements to make,” Hill said. “We didn’t come out as fast as we wanted to. We had those two drives with punts, but our defense held it down.”

Is something special brewing?

Michigan is tied for 34th nationally in total offense, averaging 470.0 yards a game, is 14th in rushing offense (255.0), 85th in passing (215.0) and fourth in scoring (50.0).

“It’s not like we think it. We’re doing it, but we’re not even noticing,” Hill said. “We’re just working as hard as we can every day in practice and doing the most we can to get better as a team. That’s our goal at the end of the day.”

The players agree the bye week is coming at an ideal time. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh calls it an “improvement week.”

“Great time,” Magnuson said of the bye. “Six weeks into the season, everyone is getting pretty sore, beat up. It couldn’t come at a better time, especially coming off a big win.

“(It’s) very beneficial, especially for the guys who start and play a lot. We’ve played six games but we’ve had four weeks of camp. So almost 10 weeks now of straight football, so your body’s hurting.”

Hill said it’s a time to rest but not relax.

“That bye is needed. The bye is well-needed,” Hill said. “It’s also coming at a time where we’ve got to not take too much advantage of it.

“After this bye week, it’s going to get real. Real, real. We’re going to take this time and enjoy it, but we’re still going to have to work.”