Just when everyone in Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium expected to go into overtime, a critical mistake by a Badger defensive back gave the Wolverines a chance to win.
With just 15 seconds left, Michigan punted to Wisconsin. Brett Bell, a back-up defensive back, was covering Brandon Williams who was rushing down to cover the punt. Hayden Epstein's punt bounced off Bell's leg and Williams pounced on it at the 15 to give Michigan the ball and the chance to stay in control of the Big 10 race.
Epstein then kicked a 31-yard field goal with 10 seconds left to win. Just a minute earlier, Wisconsin kicker David Neuser had a chance to seal the win for the badgers but missed the uprights from 31 yards out by the width of a ball.
Illinois came from behind earlier in the day to beat Ohio State 38-22 so the Wolverines had to win to stay ahead of the Illini for the Big 10 title.
"Anything can happen as long as there is time on the clock," said Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr just after the game. "I am drained. I have never been through anything like that." he added.
Call it luck, call it fortune, call it anything, but good teams find ways to win even when they get outplayed. This was such a game. Neither Michigan running back gained 100 yards and Marquise Walker, dropping balls all over the place, was held to just three catches. UM QB John Navarre looked nervous at times and overthrew his receivers all day long. He was also sacked four times.
"It was a great football game," Carr said. "My hat is off to Wisconsin. They are a very well coached team. Both teams played hard."
Wisconsin Freshman running back Anthony Davis ran a record-tying ninth hundred yard game against a Michigan defense that once was the best in the country against the rush. Davis gained 103 yards.
But Michigan's defense made enough plays when they had to, even though the offense could not move the ball in the second half. The Wolverines twice had the ball inside the Wisconsin 25 yard line, once on the five, and couldn't score. A B.J. Askew touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty.
Michigan went into the locker room with a 14-7 lead after missing a 46 yard field goal attempt.
Now Michigan turns to its season finale with Ohio State. If UM wins, the Wolverines are outright Big 10 champs by virtue of their win over the Illini. But Michigan has a lot to work on before they face a Buckeye team that has pointed to its date with Michigan as THE game of their season.
"Seven days," Carr said.