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No. 4 Michigan wallops Rutgers 78-0

By Everett Merrill, The Sports Xchange
No. 4 Michigan wallops Rutgers 78-0
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. (YouTube)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Taco Charlton said he wants to prove that the Michigan defense is the best in the country.

It would be hard to argue with the Wolverines defensive end after No. 4 Michigan's 78-0 drubbing of Rutgers on Saturday night before 53,292, the fourth-largest crowd at High Point Solution Stadium.

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Michigan, 6-0 for the first time since 2011 and 3-0 in the Big Ten, allowed 39 yards and two first downs -- both in the fourth quarter -- in 18 Rutgers' possessions. Charlton registered two of the Wolverines four sacks. Michigan had 13 tackles for loss totaling 49 yards.

The Wolverines yield 10.3 points per game.

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"We set the bar high," Charlton said "It can't just stop with Rutgers. We have to go out every week and prove we're the best (defense)."

Rutgers (2-4, 0-3) has been outscored 136-0 in its last two games. It lost to Ohio State 58-0 on Oct. 1.

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The margin of victory was the third-highest in Michigan history and the second-highest since 1920 when it defeated the University of Chicago by 85 points in 1939. In 1947, Michigan held Pittsburgh to one first down.

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Michigan piled up 600 yards -- 481 on the ground.

Running back Chris Evans led the onslaught for the Wolverines with 11 carries for 153 yards. Karan Higdon, Khalid Hill, Ty Isaac and Jabrill Peppers each scored two touchdowns as six different players scored for Michigan.

Peppers, returning to New Jersey for the first time since a standout career at Paramus Catholic, ignited the offense with 74 yards on three carries, and was a spark on defense where he recorded a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry in a half's worth of work.

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"If there's a better player in the country (than Peppers), I don't know who it is," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. "There's nothing he can't do.

"In my humble opinion, we're looking at the Heisman Trophy winner."

The Scarlet Knights appeared to score on the last play of the third quarter, but linebacker Deonte Roberts' interception return was called back because the officials ruled the ball hit the ground before he caught it.

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"I'm not concerned about the score," first-year Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. "I'm concerned about our kids. We've got a bunch of good kids in that locker room and I feel awful for them right now.

"They have done everything we've asked them to do. They have grinded really hard and they kept a good attitude throughout this game, last game, and I feel really bad for them."

With Michigan comfortably ahead at the half, quarterback Wilton Speight (6-of-13, 100 yards, touchdown) was lifted for John O'Korn and Shane Morris for the second half. Each of the backups directed a TD drive early in the third quarter for a 57-0 edge.

The Wolverines scored on all four of their second-quarter possessions, taking a 43-0 lead at the half. Peppers and Hill recorded two TDs apiece in the quarter.

Michigan outgained Rutgers 309-6 in the first half.

Michigan took a 14-0 lead with 4:27 left in the first quarter thanks to a 30-yard touchdown pass from Speight to wide receiver Jehu Chesson, who made a diving over-the-shoulder catch in the corner of the end zone.

Isaac provided the Wolverines with a 7-0 lead when he scampered 4 yards around right end with 7:44 left in the first quarter. The score was set up by a 63-yard career-long run by Peppers, who took the direct snap and raced through traffic down the left sideline.

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After completing 1 of 8 passes, Rutgers starting quarterback Chris Laviano was replaced by Zach Allen. The Scarlet Knights had six three-and-outs in the first quarter and were held to minus-1 yard.

NOTES: Michigan's nine rushing TDs tied a program record established in the 1939 game against Chicago. ... Wolverines RB Ty Isaac has four touchdowns in his last four games. ... Rutgers' P Michael Cintron punted 16 times for 603 yards. ... Scarlet Knights LB Greg Jones will miss the rest of the season because of a neck injury he sustained Oct. 1 at Ohio State. ... Rutgers offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer, 28, is the youngest play-caller in a power-five conference. ... Michigan's Jabrill Peppers has played 13 different positions this season. ... The Wolverines' roster features nine players from New Jersey. ... Michigan is in the top 10 in the nation in scoring offense and scoring defense.

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