Halftime update: Wisconsin 19, Michigan 0

September, 27, 2008
9/27/08
5:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A bye week clearly didn't teach Michigan how to respect the football.

After giving away the Notre Dame game with seven turnovers, the Wolverines have fumbled six times in the first half today, losing three. Redshirt freshman quarterback Steven Threet topped off the turnover spree by tossing two interceptions within the final two minutes. That's absolutely pathetic, especially after a two-week break in which I'm sure Rich Rodriguez and his staff stressed the importance of limiting turnovers. And it's not just young players. Senior Morgan Trent fumbled a kickoff return.

How bad has it gotten for the Maize-and-Blue faithful? They sarcastically cheered kickoff returner Martavious Odoms for simply hanging onto the ball on a short runback with five minutes left in the half. I just walked by several "Old Blues" in the press box who are saying this is the worst they've ever seen Michigan play at the Big House, and it's the 500th game.

Can Michael Phelps start taking snaps for Michigan?

And it's not like the Wolverines are doing anything when they keep the ball. Michigan finished the half with 21 total yards and minus-7 passing yards. Can you say Notre Dame of 2007?

Barring a dramatic turnaround after halftime, Michigan will find itself at the bottom of the Big Ten power rankings on Monday.

Wisconsin is doing what Wisconsin does best: dominating the line of scrimmage and capitalizing on an opponent's mistakes. The Badgers don't get much respect nationally because they aren't flashy, they don't run a spread offense and their quarterbacks are fairly anonymous. But this defense should start generating some buzz. They're laying the wood to Michigan right now on almost every play. LinebackersJonathan Casillas and DeAndre Levy have been fabulous. Sam McGuffie has no room to run, and Threet is constantly under duress.

John Clay is healthy, by the way. The Badgers' third-string running back sat out several practices with back spasms but looked just fine on a 46-yard scamper that set up a P.J. Hill touchdown. Clay could be Wisconsin's most talented back, but Hill is the established starter and has another year of eligibility left. It will be interesting to see how Wisconsin uses the two backs as Clay gains more experience. Nice problem to have.

Credit the Michigan defense for hanging in there. Linebacker Jonas Mouton is having a solid game, and the veteran-laden line had done its best. But when the offense gives the defense no chance, there's only so much you can expect.

All-American tight end Travis Beckum remains on the sideline, his helmet now no longer on his head. The Badgers don't need Beckum the way they're dominating this game. Save him for Ohio State next week. This one looks like it's over.

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