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Saturday, October 8, 2011
Northwestern up 10 on Michigan at half

By Brian Bennett

Can Northwestern hold on to a second-half lead?

The Wildcats couldn't do it last week at Illinois despite leading 28-10 in the third quarter. If they can do it tonight, they'll register the biggest upset in Big Ten conference play so far.

A terrific game plan by Pat Fitzgerald and his staff, plus some rather large help from Denard Robinson, has Northwestern leading No. 12 Michigan 24-14 at halftime. The offense has used every tool in the shed, with Kain Colter occasionally spelling Dan Persa to run the option and Venric Mark lining up everywhere (including on defense). The Wildcats should be up 28-14, but Rashad Lawrence dropped a sure touchdown pass with two seconds left in the half, forcing Northwestern to settle for a field goal.

Northwestern is forcing Robinson to throw, and his results have been both great and terrible. Robinson has two touchdown passes, but he has also thrown three interceptions deep in Wildcats territory to end potential scoring drives. None of the throws were particularly close to the intended target, and even if the Wolverines mount a comeback, this is a troubling sign for the Michigan offense.

There's a lot of time left, and Northwestern has been shaky with big leads before. Expect plenty more twists and turns before this one ends.