Scheelhaase hurt, Illini shut out by Michigan

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Scheelhaase hurt, Illini shut out by Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Denard Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores, leading No. 25 Michigan in a 45-0 win over Illinois on Saturday.

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.

The Fighting Illini (2-5, 0-3) lost their starting quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase, because of an undisclosed injury in the second quarter.

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.

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 Reilly O'Toole, whose two turnovers in the third quarter helped Michigan pull away.

In the first half, Illinois had chances to keep it close.

Illini coach Tim 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.

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.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, who had 62 yards rushing on 18 carries, scored on a 2-yard run two plays later to put the Wolverines ahead 38-0.

Michigan put backup Russell Bellomy, who replaced Robinson when he was hurt, back in and he fumbled on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Bellomy handed off to Thomas Rawls up the middle and he did the rest, breaking two tackles on a 63-yard run to give Michigan a 45-0 lead later in the fourth.

Michigan got its first shutout since beating Minnesota 58-0 on Oct. 1 last season.

Just before kickoff, college football's winningest school unretired the jersey worn by former President Gerald Ford. The Wolverines allowed linebacker Desmond Morgan to wear No. 48 with a "Michigan Football Legends," patch and he made a tackle on Illinois' first play.

Michigan gave its fans a lot of reasons to cheer on a chilly, rainy day, but they were loudest when it was announced that rival Michigan State lost earlier in the day at home to Iowa. The Wolverines will host the Spartans on Saturday, hoping to snap a four-game losing streak in the series.

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Cubs: The next steps for Kyle Schwarber

Cubs: The next steps for Kyle Schwarber

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Kyle Schwarber might have been the most dangerous hitter in a World Series lineup that featured the National League MVP plus four more All-Stars. After spending more than six months recovering from major knee surgery. Against Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and a dominant Cleveland Indians bullpen.

“He’s not going to play winter ball,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said with a perfect deadpan delivery. “We felt like he proved he can hit major-league pitching.”

The Cubs spent Monday at the winter meetings inside the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, continuing their search for pitching on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. The Cubs are so stacked with hitters that manager Joe Maddon could write out a 2017 Opening Day lineup tomorrow and Theo Epstein’s front office would still have Jorge Soler left over as trade bait.

Schwarber could hit second for the defending World Series champs, and his presence would mean more than any player the Cubs could sign as a free agent. The Cubs expect him to be at full strength by spring training, though it’s unclear how much work, if any, he’ll get as a catcher.

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“That’s the hurdle we haven’t really gone over yet,” Hoyer said. “Can he do it? There’s no question he’s going to want to do it. I think he can do it. I think that we have to have discussions about how heavy a workload we put on him in that regard.

“One of the things we talked about even last year before he got hurt was (how) he’s doing full catching drills, running around the outfield, doing stuff hitting. That’s a lot to put on a guy, sort of like playing two ways in football.”

Schwarber, an all-Ohio linebacker in high school, has a run-through-a-brick-wall mentality and doesn’t like to hear about what he can’t do. He wrecked his left knee in an outfield collision in early April and needed a procedure that reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL.

It took only two warm-up games in the Arizona Fall League before Schwarber made his dramatic return as the designated hitter at Progressive Field, batting .412 (7-for-17) with a .971 OPS during the World Series. 

The Cubs appear to be set with Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero behind the plate, but Schwarber is the type of baseball gym rat who enjoys breaking down video, giving input for scouting reports and being involved in every pitch.  

“We have to talk through all that stuff,” Hoyer said. “We know what his position’s going to be, so we have to figure out what our position’s going to be. I know he’s going to want to catch.

“But he knows he’s coming in as a left fielder next year. And we have to decide how much of the catching drills (he does).”

Slow start to fourth dooms Bulls in loss to Blazers

Slow start to fourth dooms Bulls in loss to Blazers

With his old teammate Robin Lopez in front of him and his feet at the United Center sign on the floor, Damian Lillard threw caution to the wind as he sensed the end was near.

With redemption on his mind and the Bulls on the ropes, Lillard unleashed a long triple that took the air out of the building with five minutes and pushed the Portland Trailblazers lead to 10.

The Bulls got closer but a few disastrous minutes spelled doom in their 112-110 loss Monday at the United Center, their third defeat in four games as they were without Rajon Rondo, who was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team earlier in the day.

Dwyane Wade scored 34 points with four rebounds and four assists in his return from a one-game rest while Jimmy Butler scored 26 with seven rebounds and five assists but the Bulls shot just 42 percent and committed 15 turnovers, many of them unforced against a defense that isn’t known for stopping opponents.

Lillard hit free throws in the final minute after the Bulls pulled to within three with 18.2 seconds left but his triple was a backbreaker.

It gave the visitors the push they needed after trailing to start the fourth, going on a 13-3 run while the Bulls missed 11 of their 13 shots to start the period, halting a relatively smooth offensive game to that point.

And when their offense abandoned them, they couldn’t get enough stops against a potent Trailblazers team that loves playing fast and loose. Chicago native Evan Turner hit two big baskets during the run, as he hit five of six on the night to score 11.

The Bulls harassed Lillard into one of his worst shooting nights of the season in a blowout win a few weeks ago and he made amends with a 26-point, seven-assist night

He looked to start off on the right foot from the jump, taking advantage of Jerian Grant off the dribble.

The Bulls’ defense was confused on rotations, allowing Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe to feast early on. McCollum ran around screens and read a slow-reacting Bulls defense, nailing jumpers over flat-footed defenders.

Crabbe scored 17 off the bench while McCollum hit 10 of 19 to score 24, as the Blazers hit nine triples at 39-percent accuracy.

The trio of guards combined for 45 in the first half and the Bulls needed to make an adjustment.

So Butler started the third quarter defending Lillard and it seemed to throw off the Blazers’ rhythm. The Bulls took a 67-66 lead minutes into the second half and held off the duo until McCollum’s 25-foot triple right at the end of the third.

He dropped in another two minutes into the fourth to give the Blazers a 90-89 lead.

By then, they were in a dogfight and unable to slow down the hot shooting Blazers.