Cox returns to Michigan, with visiting UMass
Everything was backward for Michael Cox Saturday afternoon.
He was in the wrong locker room, he was on the wrong side of the field, and he was definitely on the wrong side of the final score.
Cox and his Massachusetts teammates were routed 63-13 by his former team, No. 17 Michigan. After spending three years as a little-used running back, he got his diploma in Ann Arbor and enrolled as a grad student at UMass. On Saturday, he found himself back in the Big House, this time as a starting tailback.
''It was weird to go to the visiting locker room and to start on the visiting sidelines,'' he said. ''The whole day was a little strange, but it was great to be back and to see so many good friends.''
Cox finished with 76 yards rushing, easily leading the team, but his most important contribution might have been a pregame speech to his teammates, warning them of what was about to happen.
''I told the guys that it was impossible to prepare for playing in front of 110,000 people - I just tried to tell them what it was going to be like,'' he said. ''It's not something you get to do very often.''
It was a much different outcome than two years ago, when UMass, then still a FCS member, took Rich Rodriguez's Michigan to the wire before losing 42-37. The Minutemen are now in their first season as an FBS member, and have been outscored by an average of 48-6 in their three losses.
''It was a sloppy day for us in just about every area,'' Minutemen coach Charley Molnar said. ''Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong.''
The Wolverines scored on Denard Robinson's 26-yard TD pass to freshman tight end Devin Funchess on the game's opening drive. After a punt on the second drive - Michigan's only punt before Robinson left the game - Fitzgerald Toussaint sprinted around left end on an 11-yard score to make it 14-0.
The Minutemen put together a nice drive that spanned the first and second quarters, but stalled inside the 10 and had to settle for a 25-yard field goal. On the next play from scrimmage, Robinson hit Drew Dileo for a 66-yard pass, setting up Vincent Smith's five-yard run.
Things didn't go as well for Robinson on the next offensive drive, as UMass pulled within 21-10 on Christian Birt's 32-yard interception return. The Minutemen, who added a field goal late in the half, had only scored six points in their first nine quarters before getting 13 in the second against the Wolverines.
That was UMass's last hurrah, though. Robinson hit former quarterback Devin Gardner for a 42-yard touchdown pass, ran for a 36-yard score, then set up another touchdown with a 49-yard rush to the Minutemen 2. That gave the Wolverines a 42-13 lead at the half.
Robinson played Michigan's two drives of the second half, both leading to touchdowns. Michigan scored eight touchdowns in his 10 drives, including the last five in a row. Still, like his coach, he wasn't satisfied.
''I left a couple throws out on the field, and there was the pick-6,'' he said. ''I read that play perfectly, but I made a terrible throw.''
Robinson finished with 397 yards of total offense and accounted for four touchdowns.
''We didn't have any way to prepare for him, because there's no one like him on our team,'' Molnar said. ''Actually, there's no one like him in the country.''