Ann Arbor, Mich. —The Michigan have a lot of things brewing on campus with the suspension of their head coach Jim Harbaugh for three games for breaking NCAA rules, he was able to coach the team during the week, and helped the staff with the game plan. But the Maize and Blue found a way to remained focus at the task at hand.
Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy arrived to the stadium wearing a blue shirt backward, writing “FREE” in black on white athletic tape and placing it on his chest above Harbaugh’s name. He put the shirt back on after the game.
“I just want my coach back,” McCarthy said. “It’s as simple as that.”
McCarthy and company took it the Pirates to the tune of a 30-3 beat down. East Carolina didn’t have a chance against the Maize and Blue today.
Today’s announced crowd of 109,480 was the 309th consecutive game at Michigan Stadium with a crowd in excess of 100,000.
Today’s matchup marked the first-ever meeting between Michigan and East Carolina.
Michigan had a 23-point lead in the first half with three touchdowns and a long 50-yard field goal from kicker James Turner while completely dominating out ECU. It was Turner’s first field goal donning the Maize and Blue.
With the win, Michigan streak has reached 16 straight games, going back into the 2021 season. It is the longest home winning streak under the Jim Harbaugh era and the program’s best since home win streaks of 16 games (2002-05) and 21 games (1997-2000) under former head coach Lloyd Carr.
The Pirates didn’t have an answer to the Wolverines’ (1-0) offensive onslaught, getting pushed up and down the field turf for three touchdowns and 280 yards — ECU simply didn’t have a defensive scheme to stop the Maize and Blue.
“I mean, everyone saw what we did last year. We were smashing, pounding the football, doing our thing,” McCarthy said. “And teams are going to prepare for that, especially ECU that just went all offseason trying to stop that. So it was just an opportunity for us, as a passing game, to capitalize.”
Michigan went to the air early then running back Blake Corum scored from 2-yards out for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Wolverines a 14-0 lead and he finished the game with 122 rushing yards.
Corum coming off knee surgery, ran for 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He showed he still has with runs of 37- and 21-yards.
“It felt great being back out there, making some cuts and some long runs,” Corum said. “That was my first time, honestly, getting hit since the Ohio State game.”
In a blink of an eye the Wolverines were up 30-0 in the third quarter with a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Roman Wilson. Michigan attempted 26 passes compared to 16 rushes. McCarthy’s 280 passing yards was established after an lack of an running game.
The Pirates (0-1) were overmatched against a team with national championship aspirations that’s coming off two straight Big Ten titles and trips to the College Football Playoff.
ECU quarterback Mason Garcia was 11-of-18 passing for 80 yards and had a deflected pass picked off by Mike Sainristil. Garcia split time with Alex Flinn, who was 6 of 11 for 52 yards.
“Mason made some mistakes early,” coach Mike Houston said. “Alex played really well in the second quarter. Alex made some mistakes in the third quarter, and I was really excited about how Mason finished the ballgame.”
The Pirates avoided a shutout when kicker Andrew Conrad booted a 33-yard field goal as time expired.
ECU: Hosts Marshall on Saturday.
UM: Hosts UNLV on Saturday.