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Whew!

Michigan's perfect season is still intact.

We've been talking about it all year long — Michigan's passing attack — or lack thereof. Could Michigan pass the ball in order to win a game if the running game suddenly stopped working? The answer, it turns out, is yes, but just barely. 

A lot of people called what we we've been doing complaining, whining, focusing on the negative or flat out being downers. But really what we were doing was talking about the obvious issue surrounding this team. All year long Michigan was reluctant to open it up through the air. Through 10 games, it didn't matter, because Blake Corum and the offensive line imposed their will on mostly inferior opponents. However at the same time, JJ McCarthy and the wide receivers appeared to be regressing. The downfield accuracy wasn't there for McCarthy, wide receivers weren't getting open and the passing attack, that most thought would be much better, was actually less productive than last year's through 10 games. On Saturday against Illinois and for the first time, Michigan wasn't able to lean on Blake Corum for four quarters, and it was a problem. We had been worried about it all year, and it finally reared its head. But when it mattered most, McCarthy and his receivers made a few plays, got Jake Moody into position and Michigan pulled it out against a motivated, scrappy and efficient Illinois team.

Corum went down late in the first half with a left knee injury and only carried the ball once after that. With Donovan Edwards already out, Michigan's vaunted running game was severely hindered and dependent upon true freshman CJ Stokes, sophomore Tavi Dunlap and walk-on Isaiah Gash. Illinois started loading up the box on the less capable runners, and U-M could not do enough through the air until the final drive of the game. McCarthy looked off all day long and couldn't find any level of consistency in the cold and wind, but on the final drive of the game, needing just a field goal, McCarthy led the offense down the field and gave Jake Moody a chance to win the game. McCarthy finished the day 18-of-34 for 208 yards and no scores.

Jim Harbaugh's philosophy of running the ball all day long, which was 100% effective through 10 games, almost proved to be too one-dimensional once a team was able to take it away (or once Corum was injured) — however it happened, it happened. After its biggest scare of the year, Michigan is 11-0 and still has a chance at making the Big Ten Championship game and the College Football Playoff.

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