Karan Higdon turned 22 on Saturday, and Michigan's offense spent 30 minutes building what amounts to a massive cake.
The Wolverines' senior captain running back racked up a cool 156 yards before halftime, pacing a breezy bounce back day for No. 22 Michigan in a 49-3 romp over visiting Western Michigan at Michigan Stadium.
A week after struggling to muster anything offensively against a touted Notre Dame defense, the Wolverines found much more room against an over-matched Broncos team by racking up 308 rushing yards among 451 total yards.
Michigan junior quarterback Shea Patterson went 12 of 17 for 125 yards and three touchdowns. His 44-yard pass to sophomore Nico Collins in the second quarter was the first receiving touchdown by a Michigan wideout in 364 days.
Higdon finished with 156 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts, all in the first half. Chris Evans had 86 yards on 10 carries with two TDs.
Defensively, Michigan kept WMU to just 161 yards of total offense before rotating in its reserves early in the fourth quarter. Rashan Gary made six tackles, including his first sack of the year. Linebacker Josh Ross had two tackles for loss. Western Michigan avoided the shutout with a 35-yard field goal from Josh Grant with 2:34 left.
WMU quarterback Tim Wassink went 16 of 34 for 85 yards. The Broncos finished with 208 total yards.
The Wolverines (1-1) are back home next Saturday against SMU (3:30 p.m., BTN).
Things started a bit shaky on the first drive, as the Wolverines had to burn a timeout on the second play from scrimmage before getting behind the chains with a false start — resulting in a few boos from the Michigan Stadium crowd.
But after the defense responded with a three-and-out, everything was easy-going from there for Jim Harbaugh and company.
Higdon's 43-yard run off right tackle sparked the first scoring drive of the day, resulting in a 17-yard touchdown pass to Sean McKeon — Patterson's first TD pass at Michigan — to make it 7-0. Higdon was at it again a drive later, taking the first snap 67 yards off left tackle for a score.
And after a Noah Furbush interception put the Wolverines in good field position, Chris Evans made it 21-0 with a 27-yard scamper — giving Michigan three touchdowns in less than seven minutes of game action.
Evans added a 2-yard TD run after a blocked punt on the next possession before Patterson went over the top to Collins on a play-action pass from the 44-yard strike.
Michigan's wide receivers, who caught just three touchdown passes all of last season, had not made a touchdown reception since Grant Perry hauled one in from Wilton Speight in a win over Cincinnati on Sept. 9, 2017.
Patterson's final scoring act of the day came midway through the third quarter, when he passed on what appeared to be an open slant route to fire a perfect sideline route into the arms of Donovan Peoples-Jones to make it 42-0.
It was the first touchdown reception of Peoples-Jones' career and easily the best throw of Patterson's short run with the program. Peoples-Jones finished with four receptions for 30 yards and a TD.
Michigan backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey also tossed the first touchdown pass of his career, an 18-yarder to Jake McCurry in the fourth quarter.
Contact Nick Baumgardner: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NickBaumgardner.
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