EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- No. 25 Michigan didn't need any late
theatrics to put an end to Northwestern's winning streak.
The Wolverines' defense made its presence felt in the first half
and shut out No. 21 Northwestern in the second, leading the
Wolverines to a 33-17 victory Saturday and their third straight
It was, simply, a dominant performance.
"It's right up there," said cornerback Grant Mason, who had an
interception. "We gave them some things early, but we came back
and fought in that second half. ... When you play defensive
football like that, it's fun. It gets everybody pumped."
Leon Hall returned a fumble 83 yards for a touchdown that made
it 14-0 six minutes into the game, and Michigan held the Wildcats
to a season-low 17 points. Northwestern (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) had its
three-game win streak stopped.
Michigan (6-3, 4-2) held an offense that was fourth in the
nation, averaging 529.3 yards, to 415 yards and intercepted Brett
"I'll put in the top two, at least," Wolverines defensive end
Alan Branch said. "Shutting an explosive team like these guys down
is a tremendous accomplishment. So I feel really great about the
way we played."
Michigan's Jerome Jackson ran for 105 yards on 24 attempts. And
Kevin Grady, starting for Mike Hart, carried 20 times for 64 yards
and a touchdown. Hart, fifth in the Big Ten at 113 yards per game,
was in uniform but did not play after leaving last week's game
against Iowa with a sprained ankle.
Chad Henne completed 17-of-30 passes for 174 yards and a
touchdown, but threw three interceptions for the Wolverines.
Basanez, who had just one interception the first seven games,
was 26-of-49 for 326 yards. Mark Philmore caught nine for a
career-high 139 yards -- six for 137 in the first half -- but
Northwestern never established the running game.
A team that was third in the Big Ten at 213.9 yards rushing had
just 57 at halftime and 89 overall. Wildcats freshman Tyrell
Sutton, second in the conference at 138.6 yards per game, carried
10 times for 50 -- giving him 1,020 this season.
"We needed to score some points, but we just couldn't get it
going," Basanez said.
"Their defense is great," he said. "They all seem to be 6-5,
300 and run a 4.4 40."
After beating Penn State by two on a touchdown at the end of
regulation and squeezing out a 23-20 overtime victory at Iowa last
week, this was a relative breather for the Wolverines.
Michigan scored 10 points in a two-minute span late in the
second quarter to increase its lead to 27-10.
First, Henne hit Mike Massey for a 10-yard touchdown, capping a
Then, a lunging Mason intercepted Basanez along the sideline at
the Northwestern 28. That led to a 19-yard field goal by Garrett
Rivas with 58 seconds left in the half.
Basanez connected with a leaping Philmore for a 35-yard score
that cut it to 27-17 with 11 seconds left.
Michigan drove 74 yards on the game's first possession, with
Grady running it in from the 1 for a 7-0 lead.
Northwestern seemed poised to answer on the ensuing drive, going
from its own 35 to the 13 on just four plays. But Hall jarred the
ball from Sutton, picked it up at the 17 and ran it back for the
Wolverines' second touchdown.
Northwestern answered, with Basanez hitting Philmore for a
62-yard touchdown that made it 14-7.
Basanez completed his first six passes for 149 yards before
Brandon Harrison's interception near midfield. Harrison returned it
to the 17 but fumbled the ball away.
Just when it seemed another wild, back-and-forth Northwestern
game would unfold, the Wildcats' momentum slowed down.
Northwestern vaulted into contention for the conference
championship by beating Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State. That
49-14 rout of the Spartans, put Northwestern in the Top 25 for the
first time since 2001.
But after moving the ball early on against Michigan, the
Wildcats stalled for the first time this season.
"Our defense kept giving us opportunities, but we couldn't get
it going," coach Randy Walker said. "In the second half,
especially in the third quarter, we kept having mental
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Michigan scored 10 points in a two-minute span late in the second quarter on a Chad Henne TD pass and a Garrett Rivas FG to increase its lead to 27-10.
Gameball goes to... Michigan's defense. The Wolverines held Northwestern to a season-low 17 points, intercepted Brett Basanez twice and returned a fumble 83 yards for a TD.
Stat of the game... 89: Northwestern, which entered the game averaging 214 rushing yards, was limited to 125 below its average.