Updated at: 10/13/2012 7:05 PM
By LARRY LAGE
(AP) ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Illinois has lost five games by an average of more than four touchdowns.
Despite that fact, Fighting Illini quarterback Reilly O’Toole still thinks this team has a chance to have success if it learns from mistakes from last year.
Denard Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores, leading No. 25 Michigan in a 45-0 win over Illinois on Saturday.
"We have to stay together," O’Toole said. "That’s a big thing we didn’t do last year."
The Fighting Illini (2-5, 0-3) won their first six games last year, then lost six straight in a slump that cost Ron Zook his job.
Illinois might have to bounce back this season without starting quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase, who was knocked out of the latest loss with a concussion in the second quarter.
"I grabbed Nate when he came off the field and he said he was all right and wanted to go back in the game," coach Tim Beckman said. "But he did some things that proved he wasn’t all right. Our doctors made the right decision."
Scheelhaase completed two passes for 4 yards and ran six times for 34 yards, including a 23-yard gain in which he was injured when he landed face first in the turf when Jibreel Black hit him from behind. He was replaced by O’Toole, whose two turnovers in the third quarter helped Michigan pull away.
The Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) got a scare when Robinson left the game with an undisclosed injury late in the first quarter. He missed just one-plus possessions, though, and returned to score on a 6-yard run to put Michigan up 17-0 late in the first half.
Robinson, who wouldn’t elaborate on the injury after the game, ran for a 49-yard score _ giving him 10,000-plus career yards of offense _ on the Wolverines’ first drive of the second half and tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Devin Funchess on their next possession to make it 31-0.
Robinson was 7 of 11 for 159 yards with two TD passes, including one on his first drive to Jeremy Gallon, who turned a short toss into a 71-yard score. He ran 11 times for 128 yards, his 18th career 100-yard game on the ground, and scored on a juke-filled, 49-yard run along with a 6-yard run on a play designed to be a pass.
In the first half, Illinois had chances to keep it close.
Beckman chose to attempt a 50-yard field goal _ instead of going for a fourth-and-4 from the Michigan 32 down by 10 points _ and Taylor Zalewski missed the kick, ending the drive in which Scheelhaase was hurt. The Illini turned the ball over on downs on their next possession when running back Donovonn Young was dropped for a loss by Kenny Demens on a fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 41.
The Wolverines turned the lopsided game into a rout with 21 points in the third, turning two turnovers into TDs and forcing the Illini to lose 9 yards in the quarter.
"It’s embarrassing," Illinois center Graham Pocic said. "We can’t put it all together."
On Illinois’ first snap of the second half, O’Toole threw an interception to Demens and the linebacker returned it 13 yards to the Illini 27 to set up Robinson’s perfectly lofted pass to Funchess. Toole avoided getting sacked by Jake Ryan later in the third quarter, but held onto the ball long enough for the outside linebacker to get back to him to force a fumble at the Illinois 6.
Michigan got its first shutout since beating Minnesota 58-0 a little more than a year ago.
Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com/larrylage
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)