ANN ARBOR, Mich. — San Diego State assistants and players shook hands and hugged Brady Hoke one by one after he beat them.
Instead of being bitter about Hoke bolting the beach to coach at the Big House, the Aztecs were praising him and raving about Michigan's future.
"Brady will win a national championship here," Aztecs coach Rocky Long said after No. 22 Michigan beat San Diego State 28-7 Saturday. "I don't know how long it will take, but he will win one here."
Hoke helped San Diego State beat Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl last year for its first bowl win since 1969 and led the program to nine wins for the first time since 1977.
The Aztecs put pictures of Hoke and other former assistants on cards they used to signal plays in what they intended to be a sign of respect.
In the days before the game, Hoke publicly downplayed facing his former players. Hoke, though, didn't treat the postgame like just another one with warm embraces and encouraging words.
"That part of it is, I guess is being a human being," Hoke said.
San Diego State (3-1) did not make its players available for interviews after the game.
The Aztecs allowed quarterback Denard Robinson to run for three scores in the first half to give Michigan a three-touchdown lead and let him finish with a season-high 200 yards rushing.
The Wolverines (4-0) sputtered on offense after halftime because Robinson struggled again in the passing game. He completed just 8 of 17 passes for 93 yards and two interceptions, leaving Long wishing he had started with a different game plan.
"We are a very aggressive defense and in the first half, we were too aggressive," Long said. "That was my fault."
Though the Wolverines forced three turnovers, they turned the ball over four times and were fortunate Ryan Lindley couldn't hit open Aztecs.
After Lindley missed a teammate on fourth down midway through the fourth quarter, Robinson's 30-yard sprint set up Vincent Smith's 7-yard run to give Michigan a 28-7 lead.
San Diego State won its first three games for the first time since 1981, then became the first team to not start strong against the Hoke-led Wolverines this year.
"I thought we played a terrible first half," Long said. "They had a lot to do with us playing poorly."
The Aztecs avoided a shutout when Lindley made a 16-yard pass to Colin Lockett with 4 seconds left in the third, taking advantage of Michigan's third turnover in the quarter.Comment on this story
The Aztecs, though, failed to maintain momentum on their next drive and settled for their sixth punt after Lockett dropped an over-the-shoulder pass deep in Wolverines territory.
Lindley, who fumbled once, completed 23 of 48 passes for 253 yards and a TD. Hillman ran for 109 yards on 21 carries and fumbled twice.
Long hoped the Aztecs didn't get too fired up to show Hoke what he was missing.
"If it wasn't just another game for our players, then the players made a huge mistake," he said. "If you let emotions get in the way, you're making a mistake."