Dixon Leads Ducks Past Michigan
Sept. 8, 2007
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Oregon coach Mike Bellotti posed for a picture on the block M in the middle of the field at Michigan Stadium, a scoreboard looming in the background.
'Make sure you get the score in there,' Bellotti said.
Oregon 39, Michigan 7. Another embarrassment for the Wolverines. Another opponent celebrating at the Big House.
A week after getting stunned by Appalachian State, the Wolverines were handed their worst beating since before Bo Schembechler worked the sideline at the Big House.
Dennis Dixon accounted for 368 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, helping the Ducks build a 25-point lead at halftime and cruise to an easy victory.
'It's a good win because I think there were some questions about how Michigan was going to bounce back, and whether we would be competitive,' Bellotti said. 'I think our players took that to heart.'
The Ducks (2-0) beat Houston handily in its opener, then were even more dominant against a once-proud program that boasts the most wins and best winning percentage in college football.
Michigan (0-2) has opened a season with two straight losses at home for the first time since 1959 and has dropped four straight for the first time in four decades.
Unlike the stunning loss to the second-tier Mountaineers, the Wolverines didn't even keep it close against Oregon.
The 32-point setback was Michigan's worst since losing 50-14 at Ohio State in 1968, the season before Schembechler's coaching debut in Ann Arbor.
'We have good kids and they're hurting,' Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr said. 'If losing doesn't make you hurt, you shouldn't be at Michigan.'
The Wolverines haven't won a game since Schembechler died the day before the Ohio State game last year.
'We'll be all right,' said Michigan's Mike Hart, who ran for 127 yards. 'I'm not worried about it. We'll bounce back.'
In fact, Hart predicted the Wolverines won't be winless after hosting Notre Dame.
'I guarantee we win next week,' Hart said.
Michigan was confident after losing to Appalachian State, too, and experiencing an unprecedented fall in The Associated Press poll from No. 5 to being unranked.
The talk rang hollow.
Dixon led the way with his arm and feet, throwing for 292 yards and tying a career high with three passing TDs -- to three receivers -- and running for 76 yards and a score. He connected perfectly on 85-, 61- and 46-yard touchdown passes.
'When you give up big plays with a three-deep zone, you have problems,' Carr said.
Jonathan Stewart ran for 111 yards and a TD against a defense that looked confused at times and slow at others.
'It's kind of funny. I was looking at one of their D-lineman and was like, `He's about to quit,' ' Stewart said.
Michigan's Chad Henne sailed an ill-advised pass into double coverage that was intercepted with the ease of a punt return on the game's opening drive. A lower-leg injury knocked the senior quarterback out of the game for the second half and will probably keep him sidelined against the Fighting Irish.
'I think he's very doubtful,' Carr said.
Henne was just 12-of-23 for 172 yards with a touchdown, which tied John Navarre's school record of 72.
The Wolverines led 7-3 late in the first quarter on Henne's touchdown pass and stopped the Ducks on a fourth-and-goal at the 1 early in the fourth.
Between those two plays, Oregon seemed to do whatever it wanted against Michigan.
The Ducks led 32-7 at halftime and coasted to the victory against little resistance.
Michigan Stadium's aisles filled with fans that had seen enough after Oregon made it 39-7 in the third quarter and the Big House was so quiet that a small pocket of Oregon supporters could be heard chanting: 'Let's Go Ducks! Let's Go Ducks!'
'I hope it's not just one statement, but a paragraph,' Bellotti said. 'We just have to build on this.'
Dixon and the Ducks' spread offense, which is similar to what Appalachian State runs, had its way. Oregon racked up 624 yards, the second-highest total by a Michigan opponent in its 128 years of football.
'I would say our whole offense was in the zone,' Dixon said.
While Michigan was expected to struggle defensively, many envisioned its offense -- widely regarded as one of the nation's best a little more than week ago -- to create a shootout.
The Wolverines spent much of the first half driving into Oregon territory, needing to punt only once because of a penalty, but had little to show for it.
'I was surprised we only scored seven points,' Hart said.