12:00 PM ET, October 28, 2006
Michigan Stadium, ANN ARBOR, MI
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- For Michigan, it was another day to rely on the tough running of Mike Hart and its swarming defense for a rain-soaked victory.
For Northwestern, it was progress.
|Next season||12-0*||???||* -- Won AP National Championship|
The second-ranked Wolverines' 17-3 win Saturday was tougher than expected, but kept them on track for a potential No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup at Ohio State on Nov. 18. Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) faces Ball State next week, then Indiana.
The Wildcats (2-7, 0-5), who were 30-point underdogs for the homecoming game at the Big House, hung tough a week after collapsing in a record-setting way by blowing a 35-point lead against Michigan State.
Northwestern trailed only 10-3 midway through the third quarter when the game turned on a miscue by Wildcats quarterback C.J. Bacher, who was making his second career start.
Michigan cornerback Leon Hall, who had a fumble recovery earlier, intercepted Bacher's pass and set up the Wolverines at the Northwestern 36. Hart gained 23 yards off left tackle on fourth-and-2 and, two plays later, he ran untouched into the end zone from the 3 to make it 17-3 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
Northwestern again had a chance to cut into Michigan's lead when Wildcats defensive tackle John Gill recovered Brandon Minor's fumble at the Michigan 24 just seconds into the fourth quarter. But Bacher was picked off by Willis Barringer in the end zone.
The Wildcats didn't threaten again and lost their sixth straight.
"I thought we ran the ball effectively, and our defense was just outstanding again," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "We had a couple of nice stands in the first half and got some turnovers."
Hart had 95 yards on 20 carries, and Michigan gained 202 yards on the ground.
Hart sat out stretches of the second half after falling on a yard marker after catching a screen pass and being forced out of bounds.
"I was fine. My back tightened up a little, but once I got back out and warmed up I was fine," he said. "There wasn't much need for me to go back out there. The defense was dominating."
The Wolverines came away with three interceptions and two fumbles.
It rained steadily and a swirling wind left the American flag at one end of the stadium wrapped around the pole. The Michigan faithful donned their typical maize and blue, but on this afternoon, the maize was a sea of raincoats.
"It was more of a swirl down there," Michigan quarterback Chad Henne said. "There were times on some screen passes when I felt like I was throwing a balloon."
Bacher, who is the third starting QB Northwestern has used this year, finished 20-of-41 for 204 yards. His first start was a week ago when Michigan State scored 38 straight points to beat Northwestern 41-38.
Bacher was knocked out of the Michigan game with three minutes remaining and replaced by Andrew Brewer, whose only pass was intercepted by David Harris.
"When you're playing the No. 2 team in the nation, you can't have five turnovers," Bacher said. "We really shot ourselves in the foot."
Bacher said he was hurt by a helmet-to-helmet hit and expected to be ready for next week's game at Iowa.
Tyrell Sutton, who had 172 yards rushing against Michigan State, but found very little room against Michigan's top-rated run defense. He was stuffed by Harris for a 2-yard loss on his first carry and finished with six yards on seven attempts. Northwestern rushed for minus-13 yards.
"Their guys were everywhere," Sutton said. "Definitely their front four did a good job of plugging holes, and the linebackers did a great job of flowing. Anything you try to throw at them, they're right there flowing to the ball."
Northwestern pulled to within 10-3 on Joel Howells' 38-yard field goal on its first possession of the second half.
Northwestern's first drive ended when Bacher had the ball stripped by defensive end LaMarr Woodley, who pounced on the fumble at the Michigan 48.
Six plays later, Henne threw a 14-yard pass to Adrian Arrington in the corner of the end zone and Michigan was up 7-0.
Henne was 10-for-20 for 116 yards with star receiver Mario Manningham out again with a knee injury. Henne has only two TD passes the last three games without Manningham.
"It definitely takes away a deep threat," Henne said, "and teams are playing us to take away the big play."
Garrett Rivas kicked a 30-yard field goal to make it 10-0 midway through the second quarter.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Adrian Arrington hauled in a 14-yard TD pass to put the Wolverines up 7-0, leaving the rest to the defense.
Gameball goes to... Michigan's defense. The Wolverines held Northwestern to minus-13 yards rushing while also forcing five turnovers in sloppy conditions.
Stat of the game... 6. One week after rushing for 172 yards vs. Michigan State, Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton was held to six yards on seven carries.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-16||4-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||2-2|
|TD||10:07||ADRIAN ARRINGTON 14 YD PASS FROM CHAD HENNE (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 52 yards.
|FG||7:02||GARRETT RIVAS 30 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 36 yards.
|FG||9:38||JOEL HOWELLS 38 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 33 yards.
|TD||4:05||MIKE HART 3 YD RUN (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 36 yards.