LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — For a first road game, Saturday couldn’t have gone much better for second-ranked Michigan.
J.J. McCarthy passed for two touchdowns to Roman Wilson and ran for another, and the defense shut out Nebraska until the final five minutes in a 45-7 victory in record heat at Memorial Stadium.
Michigan (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) made fast work of the Cornhuskers (2-3, 0-2), scoring on its first three possessions and leading 28-0 at half.
“It was an important task, critical that we come in here on the road and play good football, and I thought our guys did that, and then some, in all phases,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Can’t start a game better than we did today.”
On a sunny afternoon when the temperature reached a record high of 96 degrees shortly after kickoff, Michigan went 75 yards in 11 plays on the first series. The Wolverines converted a fourth-and-1 two plays before McCarthy threw a dart to Wilson in the back of the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown.
Safety Omar Brown just missed getting a hand on the ball as he ran in front of Wilson in coverage. Wilson somehow pulled the ball in with safety Isaac Gifford hanging all over him.
“What a catch that was,” Harbaugh said. “The guys up in the press box were telling me just how good it was when they were watching in on the replay, keeping his feet inbounds. Amazing.”
McCarthy said he thought Gifford would be called for pass interference and was surprised Wilson was able to hang on.
“I didn’t even know he caught the ball,” McCarthy said, adding that he knew something good happened when he saw offensive lineman Karsen Barnhart’s raised arms. “I was just like, ‘Man, that’s God, and Roman Wilson.’ ”
The Wolverines got the ball right back when defensive lineman Kenneth Grant intercepted a tipped ball, and Blake Corum scored on a 20-yard burst up the middle three plays later.
McCarthy broke off a 21-yard TD run and found Wilson in the left corner of the end zone for a 16-yard TD just before half.
“You hate these kinds of losses,” Nebraska coach Matt Rhule said. “They all count the same, but they hurt when you have this type of loss.”
McCarthy led a long touchdown drive on Michigan’s first series of the second half and then turned the game over to his backups, Indiana transfer Jack Tuttle and Jayden Denegal. McCarthy finished 12 of 16 for 156 yards.
Corum had 74 yards on 16 carries to lead a Michigan rushing attack that produced a season-high 249 yards. The Huskers entered the game second nationally in rushing defense, having allowed none of their first four opponents to run for more than 58 yards.
Wilson’s two touchdown receptions gave him a Big Ten-leading eight for the season.
Nebraska, which has scored in 344 straight games since 1996, ended Michigan’s shutout bid when Joshua Fleeks ran 74 yards for a touchdown with 4:17 left.
The Huskers, who came in as the top rushing team in the Big Ten, was held to a season-low 106 yards on the ground.
“We can’t sit around and pout about this game,” Gifford said. “You’ve got to take it out on the next team you play.”
Michigan: The Wolverines extended their conference win streak to 17 games, longest in the nation.
Nebraska: The Huskers have lost 23 in a row against Top 25 opponents since 2016.
Michigan is all but assured of maintaining its season-long No. 2 ranking after a dominant and turnover-free performance.
Linebacker Luke Reimer, who was injured last week but was expected to play, was taken to a hospital Saturday morning when he began experiencing pain at the team hotel. Rhule did not have an update on his condition or whether he remained hospitalized Saturday night.
Michigan: visits Minnesota next Saturday.
Nebraska: visits Illinois on Friday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll