<
>

Hart, Michigan hold off rain, Northwestern at home

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.

At 9-0, Michigan is experiencing quite a turnaround from last year's disappointing season when the Wolverines lost three Big Ten games for the first time since 1996. Coach Lloyd Carr is probably hoping another mid-90s trend continues. Here is a comparison between 1996 and 2005. Will 2006 mirror 1997?

1996
2005

Overall W-L

8-4

7-5

Conf. W-L

5-3

5-3

Bowl game

Lost

Lost

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."

Jerome Jackson ran for 59 yards on nine carries, and Kevin Grady
added 23 yards while spelling Hart.

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.