UW Won the First Half; Michigan Won the Game

Michigan was horrible offensively in the first half. Trailing 19-0 through the first 30 minutes, things looked bleak at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. The offense woke up in the second half, however, and the defense continued its strong game as the Wolverines battled back to upset No. 8 Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor -- Michigan turned the ball over five times in the first half. It didn't matter. Michigan tallied just one offensive first down the first 30 minutes. It didn't matter. Michigan moved the ball to the tune of just 21-yards from scrimmage in the first half. None of it mattered.

Trailing against No. 8-ranked Wisconsin (3-1, 0-1) 19-0 at halftime, Michigan (2-2, 1-0) rallied to take a fourth quarter lead and held on late as the Wolverines opened conference play with a win in the 500th game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

The Wolverines offense turned the ball over five times in the first half, including three inside Michigan territory, but the defense held the Badgers to just 19-points in the first half. In the second half the defense scored the eventual go ahead touchdown on a Johnny Thompson interception return for a score, and the team held on with a pair of stops late in the game keyed by pressure from the defensive line.

"I'd like to tell you things looked okay at halftime but they didn't. Wow -- there was no panic. We were just trying to make some corrections, but if there was a hole to crawl into, I'm sure a bunch of us, including myself, would have liked to crawl into it," Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said following the 2-point win.

"But we didn't. We hung in there with the guys and they did a tremendous job on defense to keep us in it. That's why I felt at halftime that we still had a chance, because the defense played so well. If we could just get a first down on offense, get a rhythm and get excited, we had a chance. We got a few plays in the second half, then the big turnover (for a touchdown) by John Thompson and the offense got a few big plays. It is just a great win. I am so proud of these young men."

Michigan freshman tight end Kevin Koger ignited the dramatic Michigan come back. Lined up to the right side of quarterback Steven Threet, Koger beat the press coverage of the Badgers weak side linebacker, and streaked up the middle of the field. Threet hit him between the safeties on a 26-yard score to spark the Wolverines, and the Michigan Stadium crowd.

Then, in the fourth quarter, a pair of Michigan touchdowns just 3-seconds apart made the difference. Starting on its 15-yardline, Michigan capitalized on a drive-saving roughing the passer penalty to eventually score on a 34-yard Brandon Minor touchdown run.

Wisconsin took the ball at the 20 on its next drive, but Allan Evridge's first pass was deflected into the air and caught by Thompson who scored on the return.

"My first goal was to get to the end zone. The ball popped up -- coach tells us to run to the football -- so I ran to the football and got my hands on it and as soon as I did I was thinking end zone."

Wisconsin punted on its next possession, and Michigan scored again, this time a 77-yard drive. Steven Threet accounted for most of the yards. On 1st-and-10 Threet took off for a 58-yard run to the Wisconsin 19-yardline. Sam McGuffie made it a first and goal with a 10-yard run to the five two-plays later and on 3rd-and-goal McGuffie punched it in to make it 27-19.

Wisconsin came within two points on a 22-yard scoring ass with 13-second left on the clock, but a penalty negated a successful Badger two-point conversion, and on the second time around Michigan pressure disrupted an Evridge pass and Michigan held on for the 27-22 win.

The visiting Badgers had control from the opening kick-off. David Gilreath returned the games opening kick-off 55-yards to the Michigan 38-yard line. The Badgers would drive inside the Wolverines 20-yardline before missing a field goal, but Wisconsin went ahead 3-0 despite the wide left kick.

On Michigan's third play from scrimmage, quarterback Steven Threet scrambled towards the first down marker as his protection broke down. Chris Maragos teed up on the Wolverines quarterback, and the ball squirted loose providing Wisconsin with ideal field position yet again. Philip Welch connected on his second opportunity, this one from 23-yards out.

Michigan got its lone first down of the first half on its next drive, a 14-yard run by Steven Threet, but would be forced to punt shortly after. Wisconsin promptly took the ball 43-yards in 11 plays, and Welch connected again, this time on a 42-yard field goal.

Things then continually worsened through the second quarter. Charles Stewart tallied his first interception of the season; one that gave Michigan possession at its own 45-yardline, but Michigan went three-and-out and punted.

On the ensuing Badgers possession Brandon Graham forced another Wisconsin turnover, this time sacking quarterback Allan Evridge and jarring the ball loose. Will Johnson pounced on the ball at Wisconsin's 48. Michigan, again, quickly went three-and-out.

The Michigan defense did its job again, but for the second time of the half a fumble hurt the Wolverines. Bringing a punt back across the Badgers 40-yardline following a Badger three-and-out, Wolverines wide out Greg Mathews fumbled the ball, again giving the ball back to the Badgers.

This time Wisconsin took advantage of the Michigan miscue. With a 46-yard run by John Clay setting up a first and goal inside the Michigan 5-yardline, the Badgers pounded it home, again with a run by Clay, to put the Badgers, a team that hadn't won in Ann Arbor since 1994, ahead 13-0.

It became a 16-0 lead just 59-seconds later. Morgan Trent fumbled the kick-off return, Michigan's third lost fumble of the half, and Philip Welch booted his third field goal, a 41-yarder. Wisconsin added three more points before the end of the half, another field goal following a Steven Threet interception that gave Wisconsin the ball at Michigan's 35-yardline.

Michigan returns to Michigan Stadium next weekend to face the No. 22 Illinois Fighting Illini to try and improve to 2-0 in the Big 10 conference.

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