7:00 PM ET, October 29, 2005
Ryan Field, EVANSTON, IL
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 win.
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 Basanez twice.
"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 71-yard drive.
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 breakdowns."
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-16||2-13|
|4th Down Conversions||1-3||0-2|
|TD||10:46||KEVIN GRADY 1 YD RUN (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 74 yards.
|TD||9:07||LEON HALL 83 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)||14||0|
|TD||8:30||MARK PHILMORE 62 YD PASS FROM BRETT BASANEZ (JOEL HOWELLS KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||12:39||JOEL HOWELLS 28 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 54 yards.
|FG||9:09||GARRETT RIVAS 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 57 yards.
|TD||2:57||MIKE MASSEY 10 YD PASS FROM CHAD HENNE (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 71 yards.
|FG||0:58||GARRETT RIVAS 19 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 26 yards.
|TD||0:11||MARK PHILMORE 34 YD PASS FROM BRETT BASANEZ (JOEL HOWELLS KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||13:29||GARRETT RIVAS 38 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 38 yards.
|FG||7:11||GARRETT RIVAS 28 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 46 yards.