ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Ronnie Bell had a 76-yard touchdown reception and returned a punt 31 yards before being injured in Michigan’s 47-14 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday.
The Wolverines (1-0) won the game easily, but they may have lost their best player for a while.
Bell was hurt on a punt return in the second quarter and kept weight off his right leg as he was helped off the field by a teammate and staff member. The senior receiver was later carted off the field and up the tunnel toward the team’s locker room to be further evaluated.
The Broncos (0-1) started strong — making it 7-all on La’Darius Jefferson’s 2-yard run and trailing by just three points after the first quarter — but could not sustain success on either side of the ball.
Michigan pulled away with 17 points in the second quarter, scoring on Bell’s catch, Hassan Haskins’ 22-yard run and Jake Moody’s 20-yard field goal.
Blake Corum, who had 111 yards rushing, opened the scoring with a 14-yard reception and his 30-yard touchdown run put the Wolverines ahead 40-7 early in the final quarter.
Michigan’s Cade McNamara completed 9 of 11 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Highly touted freshman J.J. McCarthy escaped a sack on a 69-yard touchdown pass to Daylen Baldwin, a graduate transfer from Jackson State, midway through the fourth.
Kaleb Eleby was 20 of 37 for 191 with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Corey Crooms with 3:30 left in the rout.
Western Michigan: The Mid-American Conference team should be able to gain some confidence from the way it started the game, but it can learn a lot from the way the Wolverines were able to pull away.
Michigan: Bell’s injury silenced a crowd of 109,295 and seemed to stunt what should have been a feel-good afternoon at the Big House.
Western Michigan: Plays Illinois State, a program in the second tier of Division I college football known as the Championship Subdivision, on Sept. 11 at home.
Michigan: Hosts No. 20 Washington, which will likely be favored to win to give Jim Harbaugh a chance to improve on his 0-11 record as an underdog with the Wolverines on Sept. 11.