Michigan races past Purdue with another second-half surge to claim second Big Ten title in a row




INDIANAPOLIS - It was Michigan's formula all season and it didn't change with a title on the line.

Start slow, finish strong.

Donovan Edwards had 185 yards rushing and a touchdown and Kalel Mullings had two more scores on the ground as Michigan beat Purdue, 43-22, for its second consecutive Big Ten championship and an all-but-certain bid in the College Football Playoff.

No. 2 Michigan scored on its opening drive for the 11th time in 13 games to take an early lead before it stumbled its way to the break. For the eighth time in 10 league games, Michigan found itself in a one-possession game at the half.

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But as it had in each of the first 12 games of the season, the best second-half team in the nation showed exactly how it got its reputation.

On the first play of the third quarter Michigan lined up in a three tight-end set, all on the left side of the line. The Wolverines ran Edwards directly behind the overloaded set, he put his foot in the ground and juked past defensive back Reese Taylor before he scampered up the left sideline for a gain of 60 yards.

Four plays later, Mullings pounded in a score from one-yard out, the first of his career, with 12:25 left in the third quarter.

Michigan (13-0, 9-0) forced a three-and-out on defense and was in the end zone less than two minutes later. After J.J. McCarthy found Luke Schoonmaker for a 40-yard gain on a crossing route on the drive's first play, Edwards broke three tackles as he ran in a score from 27 yards out.

That set the tone as Michigan outscored Purdue by 20 in the second half.

Michigan running back Donovan Edwards celebrates a touchdown scored tight end Luke Schoonmaker against Purdue during the first half of the Big Ten championship game on Saturday, Dec.
Michigan running back Donovan Edwards celebrates a touchdown scored tight end Luke Schoonmaker against Purdue during the first half of the Big Ten championship game on Saturday, Dec.  

Purdue scored on consecutive drives to get within nine with 12:37 to play, but freshman Will Johnson's second interception of the game at the Purdue 16 with 9:57 to play set the stage for McCarthy to find Ronnie Bell for an 18-yard touchdown on third-and-11.

A trick play two-point conversion - where every lineman but the center flanked outside the hashes to the left, before McCarthy got the snap, rolled right and connected with Schoonmaker - made it a three possession game.

Michigan would score again late, a three-yard run by Mullings with 1:22 to play to put the game to bed.

McCarthy finished 11-of-17 passing with 161 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Edwards ran 25 times for 185 yards and one touchdown.

Its the first 13-win season in Michigan program history, the first time the Wolverines have won consecutive league titles since 2003-04 and guarantees Jim Harbaugh's program will be in the College Football Playoff for the second season in a row.

Now, the Wolverines await their CFP matchup and destination.

No. 1 Georgia figures to hold onto the top spot and would likely select the Peach Bowl in Atlanta vs. whichever team is No. 4 - TCU, Ohio State or Alabama. That would line the Wolverines up for the Fiesta Bowl against either TCU or potentially a rematch with OSU.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan races past Purdue for second Big Ten title in a row

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