ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jim Harbaugh tries to temper the enthusiasm about his rapidly improving team. After Michigan's latest win, though, the coach couldn't help but heap praise.
"The fellas really came out ballin' right from the start," Harbaugh said.
Jehu Chesson returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and the No. 18 Wolverines scored on offense and defense to build a four-touchdown lead by halftime in a 38-0 victory over No. 13 Northwestern on Saturday.
"Great performance by them in all three phases," Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
Michigan has won five straight since its opening loss at Utah under Harbaugh, building momentum going into a showdown at home this week against No. 4 Michigan State.
"We'll move on even more quickly than usual because it is such a good and worthy opponent," Harbaugh said. "And we'll be looking forward to it."
The Wildcats were giving up a nation-low-average 7 points a game and gave that up in the first 13 seconds. They allowed a season-high 21 points in the first quarter alone and struggled on offense, too.
Michigan has shut out three straight opponents for the first time since 1980. "Yeah, it's very meaningful," Harbaugh said.
It meant a lot to the maize-and-blue-clad fans, many of whom stayed for the final seconds and chanted, "Defense!"
The Wolverines scored touchdowns on a kickoff return, an interception and on offense for the first time since 1991 at Boston College, STATS said.
With a homecoming crowd already fired up, Chesson kept them buzzing when he raced across the field and up the sideline untouched for a score that seemed to stun the Wildcats.
Jabrill Peppers said it was a "big mistake" to kick away from him and toward Chesson to open the game. "That definitely sparked everything," Peppers said.
Michigan ran for scores on its first two possessions, on Drake Johnson's 1-yard plunge and Jake Rudock's 2-yard scramble to make it 21-0. Rudock passed a test against a highly touted defense, completing 17-of-23 for 179 yards without a turnover. "He's playing his best football," Harbaugh said.
NO. 1 OHIO ST. 49, MARYLAND 28: Cardale Jones passed for two touchdowns, J.T. Barrett scored three times and the host Buckeyes remained unbeaten. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had two touchdowns for the Buckeyes, who were tied at 21 in the third quarter before shaking free of the Terrapins and extending the nation's longest winning streak to 19. Ohio State has won 26 straight regular-season conference games. Coach Urban Meyer juggled his quarterbacks, using Jones to start drives and Barrett to finish them. "I'm very happy with it," Meyer said, referring to the two-QB, red-zone scheme that is reminiscent of what he used at Florida with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow that resulted in a national title in 2006.
No. 2 TCU 52, Kansas St. 45: Trevone Boykin threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, the second a 55-yard strike to Josh Doctson with 1:10 left as the visiting Horned Frogs rallied from a 35-17 halftime deficit. Boykin also ran for 124 yards and two scores. Aaron Green added 124 yards and two touchdowns rushing, and Doctson caught eight passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. None was bigger than his catch-and-run 30 seconds after Jack Cantele had connected on a 37-yard field goal for the Wildcats to tie it at 45.
NO. 3 BAYLOR 66, KANSAS 7: Seth Russell threw three touchdown passses and Shock Linwood ran for 135 yards and a score for the visiting Bears. Russell threw for 246 yards, all in the first half. Two of the scoring strikes went to Corey Coleman, pushing his nation-leading total to 13, and the other to 6-foot-7, 410-pound tight end LaQuan McGowan, helping the Bears to a 52-7 halftime lead in the Big 12 matchup.
No. 4 Mich. St. 31, Rutgers 24: Freshman LJ Scott scored on a 3-yard run with 43 seconds left as the visiting Spartans won ugly for the second straight week. Scott, who did not play in the first half, also scored on a 1-yard run to help the Spartans win their 10th straight. They overcame an impressive return by suspended Rutgers receiver Leonte Carroo, who caught three TD passes.
No. 21 Okla. St. 33, W. Va. 26 OT: Backup quarterback J.W. Walsh scored on a 2-yard run in overtime and the Cowboys held the host Mountaineers scoreless on their possession in the extra period. It was the third straight close finish for OSU, which won its two previous Big 12 games on last-minute field goals. Skyler Howard brought West Virginia from 15 points down with a 3-yard scoring run with 2:44 left to send the game to overtime.
NO. 22 IOWA 29, ILLINOIS 20: Jordan Canzeri rushed for 256 yards on a school-record 43 carries to lead the host Hawkeyes to their sixth straight victory. C.J. Beathard had 200 yards passing and two touchdowns for Iowa, which has already taken down four Power 5 opponents. Canzeri's 75-yard touchdown run put Iowa ahead 23-13 late in the third.
NO. 24 TOLEDO 38, KENT ST. 7: Terry Swanson ran for 161 yards and a touchdown, and Kareem Hunt had two scores for the host Rockets, who got off to a shaky start but remained unbeaten. Swanson carried 16 times, and Hunt had 16 carries for 85 yards. Rockets and former Plant High QB Phillip Ely was 19-for-32 for 205 yards and two TDs.
No. 25 Boise St. 41, Colo. St. 10: Thomas Sperbeck caught two long TD passes and fellow receiver Jeremy McNichols scored his 13th and 14th touchdowns of the season for the visiting Broncos.
Wis. 23, Nebraska 21: Rafael Gaglianone made a 46-yard field goal with four seconds left after missing from 39 yards about a minute earlier to propel the visiting Badgers. Andy Janovich broke a 55-yard touchdown run with 3:38 left to give the Cornhuskers the lead, but for the second straight week they couldn't put away their opponent. All four of their losses have come on their opponent's final offensive play.
Wash. St. 45, Oregon 38 2 OT: Luke Falk passed for a season-high 505 yards and five touchdowns, including a scoring pass in the second overtime, and the visiting Cougars snapped an eight-game losing skid to the Ducks. Tied at 38, an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Ducks helped the Cougars in the second OT, then Falk appeared to hit River Cracraft with a pass, but it landed in the hands of fellow receiver Robert Lewis for a 4-yard TD.
Penn St. 29, Indiana 7: Christian Hackenberg passed for 262 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for two more for the host Nittany Lions. He was 21-of-39 and hit Brandon Polk and DaeSean Hamilton on 39-yard scoring strikes. He also turned a bootleg into a 1-yard touchdown run.
Minn. 41, Purdue 13: Shannon Brooks rushed for 176 yards and changed the game with a 71-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter for the visiting Gophers.
Dartmouth 35, Yale 3: Dalyn Williams passed for a career-high 435 yards and four TDs for the host Big Green in an Ivy League matchup of 3-0 teams. He became Dartmouth's career leader in total offense (7,525), passing former NFL QB Jay Fiedler (1991-93).
Harvard 40, Cornell 3: Scott Hosch passed for three touchdowns and ran for another to lead the undefeated Crimson to its 18th straight win.