It was a resounding win, a 37-point drubbing that covered the spread and left no doubt as to who was the better team.
It just wasn’t as flawless as the week before.
Coming off a 63-3 blowout of Hawaii in its season opener, the No. 5 Michigan football team (2-0) was never in any danger against Central Florida (1-1) on Saturday. The Wolverines won 51-14, and after Michigan jumped out to a 31-0 lead, the Knights never came within 24.
But it was hardly perfect. UCF racked up 275 rushing yards, capitalizing on a handful of long runs to show the Michigan run defense it was not impenetrable. Knights running back Adrian Killins had only one rush in the game, but he took it 87 yards to the end zone. Quarterback Justin Holman broke off a pair of long runs before leaving the game with an apparent injury before halftime, and his backup, Nick Patti, held his own too.
Perhaps Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said it best, talking about his team’s offensive and defensive lines.
“I wouldn’t call it dominating,” he said. “Took care of business.”
The offensive line gave up eight tackles for loss, and the running game struggled to find a rhythm, finishing with 119 yards. But, as Harbaugh pointed out, that was largely due to UCF’s apparent emphasis on stopping the run. And that opened up the passing game.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight was strong again, completing 25 of 37 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns, two of which went to senior tight end Jake Butt. Butt’s second score gave him three for the season, matching his total from all of last season, to go with his 86 yards on the day.
Fifth-year senior wide receiver Amara Darboh was on the receiving end of Speight’s other two touchdowns. Redshirt junior fullback Khalid Hill tacked on a pair of scores on the ground, giving the converted tight end a team-high three for the season.
Asked what he would have thought about that fact a couple years ago, Hill said he wouldn’t believe it.
“This is a great feeling,” he said. “It’s a great accomplishment, but I just want to keep getting better and scoring more touchdowns.”
Hill also caught a pass, one of 10 different Wolverines to do so Saturday. Butt led the team with seven catches, and Darboh broke the 100-yard mark with 111.
Darboh made his first catch on a 45-yard ball from Speight, part of a more prominent deep-passing game Saturday, to go up 21-0 in the first quarter. His other touchdown came on a fourth-quarter crossing route, which he took 30 yards to the end zone to cap the scoring.
But for as solid as Speight looked through the air, the Wolverines’ rushing offense left something to be desired. Freshman wide receiver Eddie McDoom, freshman running back Chris Evans and senior running back De’Veon Smith all had their moments, but by and large, UCF seemed to have the right game plan against Michigan’s run game.
“You’ve gotta understand, in this game, you’re gonna always have mistakes, no matter what,” Hill said. “Our defense made some mistakes, but they also corrected those mistakes. Our offense made mistakes, but we also corrected our mistakes. We didn’t just keep doing it over and over.”
And with the score as lopsided as it was, it’s hard to argue.
Fifth-year senior Kenny Allen made his first three field goals of the season, tying a career high, and Michigan altered two UCF punts and two kicks, one of which was an outright block.
Michigan put in its backup quarterback, redshirt junior John O’Korn, with 6:07 remaining, and it wore down the clock still up by a comfortable 37.
The Wolverines did what they were expected to. They took care of business.