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Michigan starts slow but finishes strong in win over Rutgers

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — J.J. McCarthy threw a tiebreaking, 18-yard touchdown pass to Semaj Morgan late in the first half and No. 2 Michigan went on to beat Rutgers 31-7 on Saturday with coach Jim Harbaugh on the sideline for the first time since serving a school-imposed three-game suspension.

The Wolverines (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) went ahead by 17 points on Mike Sainristil's 71-yard interception return with 4:31 left in the third quarter. Blake Corum's second rushing touchdown of the game — his eighth score of the season — put Michigan up 31-7 early in the fourth.

The Scarlet Knights (3-1, 1-1) took a 7-0 lead on the third snap of the game on Gavin Wimsatt's 69-yard touchdown pass to Christian Dremel, but they missed chances to score more in each quarter.

Corum capped a 94-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to help Michigan pull into a tie on its second possession and the All-American running back finished with 97 yards on 21 carries. McCarthy was 15 of 21 for 214 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers, a week after throwing a career-high three interceptions.

Wimsatt completed 11 of 21 for 180 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He ran six times for 28 yards.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

The Scarlet Knights, with a chance to take a two-score lead, negated a 27-yard run with a holding penalty and were called for a false start on third down in the first quarter on a possession that ended with a punt.

Rutgers was called for a false start on fourth-and-1, leaving the Knights with a 51-yard field-goal attempt that Jai Patel missed when the score was tied early in the second quarter.

On fourth-and-2 from the Michigan 27 in the third quarter, Wimsatt was picked off on two plays after officials waved off an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Michigan cornerback Will Johnson. On fourth-and-6 at the Michigan 19 in the fourth quarter, Wimsatt threw an incomplete pass.

THE TAKEAWAY

Rutgers: Wimsatt can make plays through the air and with his legs. Early in the game, he fooled Michigan's defense by keeping the ball on read-option plays.

Michigan: Harbaugh's return from a suspension for breaking NCAA rules coincided with the team having some communication breakdowns on offense, leading the Wolverines to use some timeouts that may have been costly if the game was closer.

THE STREAK

Michigan has 19 consecutive home victories, its longest run since winning 21 in a row from 1998-2001. The Wolverines have won 29 of their last 32 games.

UP NEXT

Rutgers: Hosts Wagner, an FCS program, on Saturday.

Michigan: In first road game, plays Nebraska on Saturday.

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Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/larrylage

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll