ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Ticker) -- Michigan's defense is ahead of the offense early in the season.
The 10th-ranked Wolverines overcame an inconsistent offense by scoring 21 points off three interceptions and posted a 31-13 victory over Miami of Ohio in their 100th home opener.
"We wanted to show people what we're made off," said linebacker Carl Diggs, who had one of the three interceptions. "We gave up some big plays. We have to improve on that. There's a lot of young guys on the defense who want to show that the team can count on us."
John Navarre tossed a one-yard touchdown pass to Bennie Joppru on fourth down with 24 seconds remaining in the second quarter to give the Wolverines (1-0) a 17-6 halftime lead.
But Michigan had trouble putting away the RedHawks, going three-and-out on its first three possessions of the second half.
"The most disappointing thing today was how we left the defense out there too much in the third quarter," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "I was disappointed with certain things but not disappointed with the team or the win."
Miami (0-1) was its own worst enemy. It had a 40-yard touchdown reception by running back Luke Clemens in the third quarter called back due to an holding penalty.
Later in period, the RedHawks had another chance to close within four, driving to the Michigan 13, but red-shirt freshman Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone by Jeremy LeSueur.
"I thought we played hard, had a lot of heart," Miami coach Terry Hoeppner said. "Our character showed itself today. We can't make the mistakes we made on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game if we want to be a good team. I lost track of the number of mistakes we made. Our defense rose to the occasion but at times we played like a young team on offense, which we are."
The Wolverines finally got their offense untracked and wore down the RedHawks, putting together two long drives in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Calvin Bell's 12-yard TD run with 10:49 remaining capped an 80-yard, 12-play drive before Walter Cross' one-yard TD plunge put the finishing touches on a 15-play, 75-yard drive that consumed more than six minutes.
"The defense was playing great, so we had to pick up our end of it," Navarre said. "We can get better. We've got to improve."
Miami backup Ryan Hawk tossed a meaningless 16-yard touchdown pass to Chauncey Henry in the final minute.
Taking over for Drew Henson, who signed a contract with the New York Yankees, Navarre completed 19-of-32 for 205 yards.
"I didn't have any expectations coming in," Navarre said. "I just wanted to make my reads and get the ball close to the receivers. You can't worry about the yardage."
"His pocket presence is better this year," Carr said of his quarterback. "I thought he looked great in the pocket."
Michigan jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter on B.J. Askew's one-yard TD run and Hayden Epstein's 22-yard field goal.
Miami closed to 10-6 on Roethlisberger's 21-yard TD pass to Eddie Tillitz five minutes into the second period. Roethlisberger, who missed the last two years because of injuries, completed 19-of-35 passes for 193 yards and three interceptions.
"It's a great feeling just to play again, regardless of who it was against," he said. "If I could, I'd take the interceptions back in a heartbeat. Everything happened much faster (than I thought) but as coach said you can't simulate that in practice."
Askew paced Michigan on the ground with 94 yards on 20 carries.
"This was good enough for today," Askew said, "but not got enough for next week (at Washington)."