ANN ARBOR — Many college football pundits expected this game to be a mere tune-up for a more notable game. At first glance, they were right.
But while the heavily favored Michigan football team steamrolled to a 63-13 win over Massachusetts, the Wolverines still found some faults, even as quarterback Denard Robinson had another noteworthy Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Robinson accounted for 397 of Michigan's 585 yards, more than double UMass' offensive output.
Photo gallery: Michigan vs. Massachusetts
The senior finished 16-of-24 passing for 291 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He had 10 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown as Michigan recorded its highest scoring output since a 67-65, three-overtime win two years ago against Illinois.
"We needed to get a good win in," said Robinson, who is now second in Michigan career yards (9,210) behind Chad Henne (9,300). "And every day, we need to come out and get better. We came out better, but we still have some things to work on."
The Minutemen still provided the No. 17 Wolverines (2-1) with a few tense moments. Only a few. Those notable instances came in the second quarter -- first, when Brendon Levengood's 25-yard field goal completed a 13-play, 66-yard UMass drive that bridged the first and second quarters.
Less than six minutes into the second quarter, UMass safety Christian Birt intercepted Robinson and cut Michigan's lead to 21-10 on a 32-yard return.
If anyone thought the Wolverines were going to fold -- or if the game would morph into Michigan's 42-37 shootout win over UMass two years ago in Ann Arbor -- the Wolverines (2-1) squashed those thoughts.
"When anybody makes mistakes, whether we're on defense or on the sideline, we preach about sudden change and the defense coming out there and getting that stop," said Michigan free safety Thomas Gordon, who finished with six tackles. "That's a big momentum changer."
Still, UMass (0-3) was overwhelmed in the opening moments, unable to advance past its own 25-yard line until late in the first quarter, and finished with 259 yards of offense, including 112 yards rushing -- nearly three times its average output (40.5 yards) in its first two games as an FBS program.
While the Wolverines' numbers were gaudy in comparison, Michigan coach Brady Hoke still found faults in his team's game: Michigan's offensive and defensive lines still had room for improvement; Michigan's defense has had trouble creating turnovers in its first three games; and despite having seven different players total 294 rushing yards -- including Fitz Toussaint's 85 yards on 15 carries -- the offensive backfield needed to refine its depth as the Wolverines prepare to face No. 20 Notre Dame next weekend in South Bend, Ind.
"They have high expectations," Hoke said. "It's our job to be honest and be real and push them to where they can meet those expectations. I told them … 'It's great to win, but we need to improve. In a lot of areas.' "
After Birt's interception return, Michigan wrapped up the first half by scoring three more touchdowns, including a 36-yard scamper by Robinson in which he faked a pass, then cut his way across the field before finding open space along the UMass sideline to run uncontested into the end zone.
Among those three touchdowns?
Taylor Lewan's fumble recovery in the end zone with 19 seconds left in the half -- an anomaly of sorts, as Lewan is an offensive tackle.
Drew Dileo, who finished with three catches for 91 yards, contested the touchdown in jest.
"For the record, I'm pretty sure it was Elliott Mealer's touchdown, and not Taylor's," said Dileo, whose team led 42-13 at halftime and scored three second-half touchdowns.
Robinson and Michigan's starters played until the fourth quarter, when he was replaced by Russell Bellomy with 13 minutes, 48 seconds left in the game.
"This is all about trying to get a mindset of the team and a mentality to win a championship," Hoke said of keeping his starters in. "And letting them finish."
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.