ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan made Northern Illinois pay for
its mistakes, using turnovers to turn a competitive game into a
Mike Hart ran for 117 yards and a scored two touchdowns, and the
fourth-ranked Wolverines took advantage of five Northern Illinois
giveaways to beat the Huskies 33-17 on Saturday.
A season after leading the nation by losing only one fumble, the
Huskies lost four fumbles and threw an interception while the
Wolverines turned it over only once.
"If you win the turnover battle, statistics say you win 79
percent of the time," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "If the
turnovers were 1-1, the score would've been much different."
The Wolverines led just 14-10 early in the second quarter before
scoring 19 straight points in the opener for both schools.
Michigan hosts Notre Dame next.
"We know there are better teams ahead, and one of them is
coming next week," Carr said.
The Huskies ran for 211 yards and threw for 200, but they were
doomed by the turnovers and a blocked field goal.
"I honestly thought we had a shot if we didn't turn it over,"
said coach Joe Novak, who has built Northern Illinois into a
mid-major power after it lost 23 straight from 1996-98.
Michigan's Chad Henne was 20-of-31 for 227 yards and two TD
passes. Jason Avant had nine receptions for 127 yards and a score.
Hart had 27 carries and ran for more than 100 yards for the sixth
time in his last eight games. He also caught four passes for 49
The Wolverines scored TDs on their first three drives, missed a
field goal on their fourth and led 27-10 at halftime after
converting 8 of 10 third downs.
"Offensively, we played as well in the first half as any team
since I've been at Michigan," said Carr, in his 11th year as head
Adrian Arrington, Michigan's promising No. 3 receiver, was
carted off the field with ice packed on his right ankle after he
returned a kickoff early in the second quarter. Carr said he's
going to miss some time, but didn't elaborate.
Garrett Wolfe had 17 carries for 148 yards and a TD for the
Huskies, but his fumble in the second quarter was the first of
"With my fumble, everything started to turn around," he said.
"The game started to go downhill for us."
Phil Horvath was 17-of-25 for 200 yards with an interception and
Northern Illinois had some success against the Wolverines'
high-powered offense, but not when it counted most on third downs.
Michigan opened with a 14-play drive -- converting four third
downs -- ending with Avant's leaping 4-yard catch in the corner of
the end zone.
The Huskies responded with a 16-play possession, but they missed
their first of many opportunities by stalling at the 7 and settling
for a field goal.
On Hart's 34-yard TD reception, he caught a screen pass, ran
over a linebacker outweighing him by 50 pounds and sprinted past
the Huskies down the sideline.
"I knew Mike was fast, but he surprised me with his power when
I saw him run that dude over," said former teammate Marlin
Jackson, an Indianapolis Colts rookie.
Wolfe scored on a 76-yard run two plays later to make it 14-10
early in the second quarter.
Hart's 2-yard dive over a pile of linemen put the Wolverines
Wolfe ruined a strong drive with a fumble at Michigan's 13.
After the Wolverines' next drive, Shatone Powers fumbled on a
punt return, giving them the ball at Northern Illinois 14. Kevin
Grady's 1-yard dive put Michigan ahead 27-10 with 27 seconds left
in the half.
"The fumble at the end of the first half -- that 14-point swing
-- was a killer," Novak said.
The Huskies' misfortune continued in the second half as they had
a field goal blocked on their first drive.
After stuffing Grady on a fourth-and-1, Jake Nordin's fumble
gave Michigan the ball back. Horvath's high pass was intercepted by
Leon Hall on the Huskies' next possession, and Horvath fumbled the
next time they had the ball.
Garrett Rivas' two field goals early in the fourth quarter gave
the Wolverines a 33-10 lead before A.J. Harris scored a late
touchdown for Northern Illinois.
"I'm disappointed with how we played" Novak said.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... The Wolverines led just 14-10 early in the second quarter when Mike Hart's two-yard TD run ignited a string of 19 straight points.
Gameball goes to... The passing combo of QB Chad Henne (20-of-31, 227 yards and two TDs) and Jason Avant (nine receptions, 127 yards, one TD) couldn't be controlled.
Stat of the game... 4: The number of fumbles that Northern Illinois lost in the game. The Huskies led the nation by losing only one fumble last season.