CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (Ticker) -- On a day when its passing game was out of sync, No. 13 Michigan found an effective method to move the ball - hand it to Michael Hart.
A true freshman, Hart ran for 234 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries as the Wolverines posted a sloppy 30-19 victory over Illinois, which lost its 12th straight Big Ten Conference contest.
Michigan (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten), which visits No. 5 Purdue next week, has not lost at Illinois since 1983. The Wolverines have won five in a row and eight of nine in the series.
The Wolverines held just a 22-17 lead before Hart, after initially being stuffed by multiple tacklers, lunged for a four-yard touchdown with 8:54 remaining. The play was reviewed but upheld, and Marlin Jackson and Scott McClintock each intercepted Illinois' Jon Beutjer down the stretch to seal it.
Michigan outgained Illinois on the ground, 294-98, and held the ball for 13 more minutes.
"It was pretty hard to throw the ball today," Hart said of the blustery conditions. "We knew it was going to be windy, so we knew we were going to have to run the ball."
Chad Henne, another true freshman, threw a pair of costly interceptions in the second quarter but tossed a touchdown pass to Tyler Ecker and ran for a three-yard score in the third as the Wolverines rallied from a 17-10 halftime deficit.
"I'm very pleased with our team in the second half after getting down, making so many mistakes and not tackling particularly well," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "The good news for us in the second half was we came out and got an early turnover, then got the lead, which is exactly what you want to do on the road."
"We just didn't execute (in the second half)," Illini coach Ron Turner said. "We never got any drives going to get any rhythm. We were constantly in 2nd- and 3rd-and-long. In our three-and-outs in the third quarter we were unable to get anything established."
Henne finished 14-of-27 for just 114 yards and a touchdown, while star receiver Braylon Edwards had three catches for only 18 yards.
"It wasn't my best performance, but the running game picked us up a lot," Henne said.
Michigan held a 10-0 lead before Beutjer tossed a two-yard TD to running back Pierre Thomas midway through the second quarter. Michigan marched down the field but Henne was intercepted in the end zone by Justin Harrison, who returned it to the Michigan 28, setting up a one-yard TD run by Thomas with 3:54 left in the period.
With less than a minute remaining in the half, Henne was intercepted by Kelvin Hayden at the Illinois 35, and the former receiver ran it back to the Michigan 37, setting up Jason Reda's 40-yard field goal with five seconds left.
Beutjer was 20-of-39 for 156 yards with three interceptions for Illinois (2-5, 0-4).
"We feel like we didn't play a complete game," Beutjer said. "We played really well in the first half offensively and defensively. But then we kind of fell apart in the second half."